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Teach Plus California Fellows Share Recommendations on 2020-21 Proposed State Budget

March 3, 2020

Senator Richard D. Roth, Chair
Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education
State Capitol, Room 5019
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: 2020-21 Budget Request

Dear Chairman Roth:

As classroom teachers and Teach Plus Policy Fellows, we are writing to identify opportunities we see in this year’s budget to build on progress California has made to ensure that every student has the opportunity to achieve their full potential in an education system defined by its commitment to equity, its responsiveness to individual needs, and its ability to prepare students for post-secondary success. We are thrilled to see Governor Newsom’s proposed 2020-21 state budget reflecting our priorities of ensuring that resources get to the students who need them most and that we are investing in building a diverse, well-supported teaching force. We have some suggestions about how we can refine those proposals.

Fiscal Transparency & Accountability
Like the Governor, we believe in the potential for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to address historic inequities by investing more in students who need more support. The State Auditor’s report showed that LCFF is not quite there yet, and we were pleased to see proposals in the Governor’s budget that were consistent with the recommendations we made in the Teach Plus policy memo, “Toward More Effective and Equitable School Funding.” Implementing these recommendations would increase transparency and accountability to help ensure that LCFF meets its promise for addressing inequity. We are also co-sponsors of two bills, AB 1834 (Weber) and AB 1835 (Weber), that would address some of these concerns around fiscal accountability. AB 1835 would make sure that supplemental and concentration funds intended for historically underserved students remain designated for those students even if they are not spent in the budgeted year.

We also appreciate the intent of the Governor’s proposal for an LCAP portal to allow for aggregating and analyzing LCAPs. That has the potential to be a helpful resource for oversight and for identifying different strategies for addressing various student groups in similar districts. But without additional steps, an aggregating portal would not be particularly useful. We must make sure that the collected LCAPs are analyzed in such a way to ensure that educators, families, students and policymakers can identify what is working and what isn’t. This means that there will need to be consistent coding of activities in the portal to provide meaningful information and allow for comparisons between similar LEAs across the state. While the revised LCAP template is an improvement, it is still lacking a consistent tracking within the LCAP that would enable the portal to do meaningful sorting and analysis. We co-sponsored AB 1834 to help address this gap and believe by adding consistent coding into the portal proposal would enhance its impact.

Educator Recruitment and Professional Development Proposals
We appreciate Governor Newsom’s recognition that a well-prepared teacher workforce is one of the most significant factors in improving student achievement and in closing achievement gaps. We believe we must explore a range of recruitment, development, and retention strategies to expand and diversify  the teacher workforce to meet the changing educational needs in the state. Governor Newsom has sent a powerful signal that to improve outcomes for our students, we must invest significantly in developing our teaching force with $900 million in program investments. We support these important strategies and see opportunities to refine these proposals.

Having invested hundreds of millions of dollars in addressing teacher shortages over the last several years, California has already learned some lessons about these programs, particularly the Teacher Residency Grant Program and the Classified School Employees Teacher Credentialing Program. We have learned that the state needs to ensure there is sufficient infrastructure to manage these grant programs, support grantees in implementing the new programs and conduct the necessary evaluation to refine and improve these programs. To this end, we recommend increasing the capacity of the CTC, with at least three more positions to support the management of the grants and conduct necessary analysis of the programs. Currently, there is one consultant position assigned to oversee all the grant programs and any support is being funded by philanthropic dollars. For these programs to be sustainable, the state should both build the capacity of the CTC and explore developing a residency support agency that allows this change to be both scalable, and contextualized based on the local needs. We also recommend investing in the necessary technological improvements to manage applications, reports and relevant data from grantees. With more support, the CTC can do even more to ensure that every teacher is well-prepared and every student has access to an amazing educator. 

We are pleased that the Governor wants to reinvest in what is working but we need to know what is working. Building explicit evaluation systems and criteria, like those outlined in AB 3002 (Rivas), will enable the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to provide feedback to the Legislature to inform future investments in our teaching force. As cited in our policy memo, Making Teacher Diversity a Priority, a growing body of research consistently shows that teachers of color increase success for all students. Many of the strategies reflected in the programs proposed to address teacher shortages have also been cited as promising practices for bringing more teachers of color into the workforce.1 We recommend that future investments should make increasing the number of teachers of color an explicit goal or a measure of success of the program. If state leaders are serious about creating a more representative teaching force, it should be a goal of these programs and an element in the assessment of their impact, as outlined in AB 3002. 

Educator Workforce Investment Grants
We are pleased that the governor has proposed additional investment in building a strong and coherent professional learning infrastructure to ensure that there is an adequate supply of high-quality, standards-aligned, professional development offerings available to all local educational agencies and schools. In particular, we are pleased to see the proposed investment in professional learning on mental health supports, school climate and supporting English learners. We know that there are many areas on which teachers need support and opportunities to learn. We recommend that the state establish a more explicit process for gathering teachers’ perspectives on the priorities and structures to make sure these professional learning investments are successful. On mental health and school climate issues, professional learning should focus not only on teachers but classified and support staff as well. These grants should also be accompanied by meaningful accountability and support to ensure grantees for all these programs are meeting expectations.  

Again, we are very supportive of the governor’s focus on investing in our teaching force and ensuring LCFF is meeting its promise of educational equity. With some minor investments in our state infrastructure, we can better ensure that these programs enable California’s educators to address the diverse needs of our students and close historic opportunity and achievement gaps. If you have any questions about our recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our names and email addresses are below.

Sincerely,

Sarah Lillis
Executive Director
Teach Plus California
slillis@teachplus.org 
916.761.1385

Jeremy Akiyama
East Palo Alto Charter School, East Palo Alto
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
akiyama.jeremy@gmail.com 
Mariana Morales
Para Los Niños Charter, Los Angeles
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
MarianaM1027@gmail.com
Meaghan Bell
Itinerant LAUSD West, Los Angeles
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
meaghan.bell@lausd.net 
William “Kip” Morales
Alliance Collins Family College-Ready High School, Huntington Park
2019-20 Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow
wmorales@laalliance.org
Kaki Blackburn 
Manzanita Community School, Oakland
2019-20 Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow
kjblackbu@gmail.com 
Briana Nelson
Chollas-Mead Elementary School, San Diego 
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
bnelson@sandi.net 
Jennifer Click
Edison High School, Fresno
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
mrs.jenniferclick@gmail.com 
Christina Nitsos
Lafayette Elementary School, Lafayette
2019-20 Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow
cnitsos@lafsd.org 
Thomas Courtney
Chollas Mead Elementary School, San Diego
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
tcourtney@sandi.net 
Leola Oliver
Colin L. Powell Academy for Success, Long Beach
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
leola.oliver@gmail.com 
Dominique Creer
LPS Oakland R&D, Oakland 
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
dcreer19@gmail.com  
Jamey Olney
Glick Middle School, Modesto
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
jameyolney@empireschools.net 
Nicholas Dewald
San Clemente High School, San Juan Capistrano
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
nicholasdewald@aol.com 
Anna Pilhoefer
Cleveland Elementary School, Santa Barbara
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
apilhoefer@gmail.com 
Erin Fitzgerald-Haddad
San Fernando Institute for Applied Media Pilot Middle School, Los Angeles 
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
erinfitzgeraldhaddad@gmail.com 
Megan Power
Design39Campus, San Diego
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
MPOWERingEDU@gmail.com 
Tamara Frazier
Castle Park Middle School, Chula Vista
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
tamarafrazier1@gmail.com 
Al Rabanera
La Vista High School, Fullerton  
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
alrabanera@gmail.com
Edward Garcia
Bella Vista Elementary School, Monterey Park
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
edwardgarc@gmail.com 
Nadia Razi
Foothill High School, Pleasanton
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
nrazi@pleasantonusd.net​
Margaret Hicks
Oak Tree Community Day School, Palmdale
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
mdhicks@palmdalesd.org 
Meghann Seril
Broadway Elementary School, Venice
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
megpseril@gmail.com
Misti Kemmer
Russell Gifted Magnet School, Los Angeles
2019-20 Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow
mdb9670@lausd.net 
Tamra Simpson
De Anza Elementary School, San Jacinto
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
Tamra.M.Simpson@lead-tms.com
Loed Lacayo
99th St. Elementary School, Los Angeles
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
llacayo@lausd.net 
Elizabeth Villanueva
Luther Burbank High School, Sacramento 
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
elizabeth-villanueva@scusd.edu
Alex Madueña
Susan and Eric Smidt Technology School, 
Los Angeles
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
alexmaduena@gmail.com 
Jessie Welcomer
Montalvin Manor K-8, San Pablo
2019-20 Teach Plus Policy Fellow
jessiemwelcomer@gmail.com

1 Carver-Thomas, D. (2018, April 19). Diversifying the Teaching Profession: How to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color. Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved from: https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/diversifyingteaching-profession-report