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Teach Plus Calls on Governor and Legislature to Focus on Equity, Listen to Teachers During Budget Debate

January 11, 2021

Sacramento, CA ―Teach Plus California today issued the following statement as the Legislature begins deliberating the 2021-22 California State Budget.

“Teach Plus and Teach Plus teacher leaders are pleased to see Governor Newsom investing more in our students and schools than ever before in his proposed 2021-22 state budget. Teach Plus is also encouraged to see the Governor focused on prioritizing our students’ social and emotional well-being and investing in building a diverse, well-supported teaching force. “As the Legislature debates the Governor’s proposed budget, we call on it to realize our collective vision for equity and to provide clear oversight of how schools and districts are supporting our most vulnerable students. We support the Governor’s focus on investing in the teacher pipeline as a way to achieve equitable education for all students and we hope that the state listens to teachers as it shapes that investment. We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor, Legislature, and partners to make this vision a reality,” said Sarah Lillis, Teach Plus California Executive Director.  

Deepening support for students’ social-emotional needs
Over the last nine months, Teach Plus teacher leaders have seen both the pandemic and the reckoning with our racist systems take an enormous social and emotional toll on our students. Teach Plus teacher leaders have advocated for using available one-time discretionary funds to support local education agencies to more effectively incorporate a focus on the social emotional needs of students. While we appreciate the Governor’s commitment to students’ mental health by investing in cross agency programs, Teach Plus believes more can be done to make it central to the work of our schools. The state should utilize some of these funds to support schools and districts to implement and provide paid time for ongoing, collaborative, integrated, teacher-led professional learning. As Pleasanton English teacher and Teach Plus California Policy Fellow Jenna Hewitt King said, “Our schools need to be supported in responding to the traumas facing our communities, and social-emotional learning has the potential to help heal our schools during and after the current crisis.” 

Requiring the use of school climate surveys
Teach Plus was also pleased to see the Governor’s proposal to invest in widespread access and use of school climate surveys, which can be a key tool in assessing and improving school culture. Teach Plus believes that state leadership can go further to require a subset of consistent objective measures of school climate throughout the state. As this crisis has brought to bear the critical role that schools play in supporting the whole child, it behooves state leadership to make that priority clear in the expectations set for schools and districts. As West Contra Costa third grade teacher and Teach Plus California Policy Fellow Jesus Galindo said, “What has shifted culture at my school  has been objectives and metrics. If we want to make schools not only safe places for students but spaces that affirm their identities and support their social emotional needs, we need to assess that as well.”

Channelling funding to support our most vulnerable students
Teach Plus appreciates Governor Newsom’s commitment to fiscal accountability. Teach Plus teacher leaders have consistently advocated for ensuring that funding meant to support our most vulnerable students is used for that purpose. Teach Plus hopes that the Governor's new proposal will be able to be instituted with urgency to make sure we meet the promise we have made to our students with the greatest need.

Recruiting, preparing, and supporting a diverse workforce
Teach Plus teacher leaders applaud the Governor’s investment of more than $540 million to recruit, prepare, and support teachers. Teach Plus agrees that the key to advancing equity is investing in educators. Teach Plus urges the Governor to work with teachers in devising the state’s investment in professional development and looks forward to working with him in refining these plans. Teach Plus teacher leaders also recommend, as they outline in their memo, Making Teacher Diversity a Priority, for the state to clarify its goals to actively recruit, retain, and prepare ethnic and cultural minorities to enter the California teaching field, and assess and report on its progress in doing so. Only then can our policymakers ensure that California is cultivating the unique economic, social, linguistic and cultural potential that our students hold.”   

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students. teachplus.org