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A Letter Regarding Proposed May Revision Cuts to Career Technical Education Incentive Grant, K-12 Strong Workforce Program, and California Partnership Academies Funding

May 29, 2020 | Linked Learning Alliance

May 29, 2020

To: The Honorable Holly Mitchell
Chair, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review CommitteeState Capitol, Room
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Phil Ting
Chair, Assembly Budget CommitteeState Capitol, Room
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Proposed May Revision Cuts to Career Technical Education Incentive Grant, K-12 Strong Workforce Program, and California Partnership Academies Funding

Dear Senator Mitchell and Assembly Member Ting:

It is on behalf of the Linked Learning community that we respectfully submit feedback concerning the proposed cuts to the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG), the K-12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP), and California Partnership Academies (CPA) funding. The proposed roughly 50 percent cuts to categorical programs would have profound consequences for the foundational systems and structures districts have built over the past decade to provide California’s high school students with high-quality, integrated educational experiences that are proven to prepare them for both college and career.

The Linked Learning Alliance (LLA) is a nonprofit dedicated to preparing all students for success in college, career, and life through the advancement of Linked Learning, an evidence-based educational approach that integrates rigorous academics with career-themed learning, real-world workplace experiences, and comprehensive student supports. It’s a tested and effective means for educators, industry, and community organizations to join together to achieve better outcomes for young people and their families. Linked Learning keeps students engaged in their education, and motivated about their future by connecting the classroom to the real world, which is more important than ever before given the COVID-19 pandemic’s serious disruptions to educational opportunity.

We appreciate the careful thinking and efforts going into the May Revise. But, it is impossible to ignore the facts. Independent research shows that Linked Learning ensures all students, especially those who start high school behind academically, graduate on time prepared with the skills and knowledge needed for postsecondary and career success. Linked Learning is in more than 100 California school districts, from the largest urban districts to small rural districts, across diverse geographies, with 550 pathways operating in 225 high schools, serving over 200,000 students.

We understand that the state is navigating unprecedented economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. We further recognize that in order to balance the budget, difficult decisions will need to be made, and the effects will no doubt be felt across the education system. However, the proposed categorical cuts would directly impact historically underserved students and comprehensive district-wide efforts that have taken years to build and are proven to deliver positive impacts for students, educators, and communities across California. If the cuts were to proceed as outlined in the May Revision, the resulting, negative impact would include the following:

  • Oakland Unified School District has seen its overall graduation rate improve considerably, from 59.3% in 2011-12 to 72.6% in 2018-19, since implementing Linked Learning in all high schools. The district attributes this gain to essential student supports and experiences funded by the three categorical programs. Pathway students participate in work-based learning and receive college transition supports, but the proposed CTEIG cuts would negatively impact the district’s work-based learning and college transitions teams. In addition, 15 of their 33 Linked Learning pathways are funded by CPA. The proposed CPA cuts would eliminate tutoring and student intervention programs during the school day, reduce or eliminate differentiated supports outside class time, and end funding for teachers to develop new high-quality curriculum to support distance learning. OUSD’s SWP funding supports student matriculation efforts, and without those funds, the district would lose its network of educators who focus entirely on students’ transition to college. Combined with proposed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) cuts, these categorical cuts would undo years of work to support students to and through high school graduation and on to college and career success.
  • Tulare County Office of Education facilitates the Tulare Kings College and Career Collaborative that includes thirteen Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in the rural Central Valley. Each participating school district would be significantly impacted by the proposed cuts to all three categorical programs. SWP funding advances efforts to connect K-12 and post-secondary systems to create smoother transitions to and through college primarily through expanded opportunities to earn early college credits. This funding also supports students to engage in work-based learning, and participate in a robust Counselor Network and Conference, industry sector summits and conversations, work ready certification programs, and much more. CTEIG funds essential staffing, equipment and wraparound student supports, such as transportation to college and industry tours. Moreover, the two Linked Learning CPAs in the region rely on the funding to offer high-quality learning experiences for students.
  • San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools supports 33 districts with over 400,000 students. There are five CTEIG awards across the county, which provide support to 15 of the county’s 33 districts, and there are five K12SWP awards in the county, which support 19 of the 33 districts. These critical financial resources are used to provide students, including those from small, remote, and/or socio-economically stressed schools and districts, with career pathways that support existing or emerging labor market needs across the region. The proposed categorical cuts would require districts to significantly reduce both the number and quality of pathways they can maintain, thus reducing equitable access to college and career readiness education. Any proposed cuts would negatively impact key programs that while identified as “categorical” are actually considered essential core educational offerings.
  • In the Antelope Valley Union High School Districtthe proposed cuts to CTEIG, SWP, and CPA would reduce the availability of extended instructional time for students to take classes during the summer, after school, and before school. These offerings allow for deeper learning in the areas of Robotics, Law and Government, Engineering, Health Science, Computer Science, and provide students with the opportunity to work with industry professionals and engage in internships. The district would also reduce student access to tutors and field trips to industry and higher education sites to allow students (many of whom are first generation college students) to make informed decisions about their future college and career plans.
  • In the Pasadena Unified School District)CTEIG, SPW, and CPA provide smaller lab size classes, needed equipment, technology, books and supplies for dual enrollment courses. The funds also put pathway students in front of and working alongside industry professionals, providing opportunities to interact with employers and build essential “future of work” skills in a way that would otherwise not be possible. Cutting these funds for even one year would be detrimental to the district’s progress in developing a robust pathway experience for students.
  • In the Los Angeles Unified School District there are over 175,000 high school students and 422 CTE pathways that include Linked Learning pathways and CPAs, and the proposed cuts would lead to significantly reduced capacity to offer industry recognized certification programs (e.g. Microsoft certification) that provide students with immediate job opportunities, and teachers would lack the necessary resources to engage professionals in the classroom to offer insights about the real world of work. These cuts would impact essential summer bridge programs that give 8th graders an “up close” look at what high school is like, with Project Based Learning (PBL) experiences, and opportunities to learn about the vast Career Technical Education offerings that they may access. The proposed CTEIG cuts, in particular, would reduce professional development for teachers and the district would be prevented from keeping technical equipment (e.g. computers) up-to-date and in line with industry standards, which is more critical now than ever given the need to pivot to virtual learning due to the pandemic.
  • In Long Beach Unified School District, there are approximately 20,000 students enrolled in 38 pathways spanning fourteen of the fifteen California industry sectors. The proposed cuts to CTEIG and SWP grants would immediately and directly impact the district’s ability to sustain and grow high-quality pathways. Funding cuts would reduce CTE course offerings, work based learning opportunities, extended day activities, and college and career readiness and transition services.

These districts, and others throughout California, rely heavily on CTEIG, SWP, and CPA dollars to effectively prepare high school students for both college and career. COVID-19-driven school closures have already made it incredibly challenging for educators to provide students with work-based learning experiences, such as mentorships and internships, that develop the high-demand skills employers need, and that research shows leads to higher quality jobs and better economic opportunities in the future. We know that in these times high school students will need even more support and collectively we need to do even more to keep education connected to purpose for them and each of them connected as they make a critical transition to college and career. High school students need to be meaningfully engaged in learning opportunities that position them for lifelong success and active participation in the state’s economy, especially as we work toward recovery. Significant cuts to categorical programs would create unnecessary obstacles, undermine what we know works, and make it increasingly difficult for districts to ensure students stay engaged and graduate prepared for the future.

The proposed categorical cuts would be devastating to educational systems that provide connection and purpose for California's high school students. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Anne Stanton
Linked Learning Alliance

Cc: Karen Stapf Walters, Executive Director, State Board of Education
Jennifer Johnson, Office of Governor Newsom
Megan Baier, Office of Senator Toni Atkins
Misty Fuesahrens, Office of Assembly Member Rendon
Elisa Wynne, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
Erin Gabel, Assembly Budget Committee
Jeff Bell, Department of Finance
Jessica Holmes, Department of Finance