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Our Golden Opportunity Is Here: Putting State Investments in Students to Work for Our Future

July 13, 2022 | Linked Learning Alliance

California, we are on a path toward a more prosperous, equitable future—and poised to make some powerful, confident steps together. Here’s why: On June 30, Governor Newsom signed the 2022–2023 state budget, which includes a $700 million investment in Golden State Pathways and dual enrollment. These funds will dramatically increase the number of young people who have access to genuine, effective college and career opportunities—and bring about new education and workforce equity for generations.

The Golden State Pathways Program dedicates funding to high school approaches like Linked Learning, which seamlessly blend rigorous college preparation with career technical learning for students of all abilities—providing them with a full range of experiences and support so they can choose college or career or both after graduating high school. Decades of Linked Learning practice have shown us that this inclusive, supportive, inspiring approach to learning pays off in academic achievement and the workforce skills and mindsets employers seek. New investments in Golden State Pathways and dual enrollment will put this powerful combination to work for more students and communities.

“This is a watershed moment for educators, employers, students, and families across the state who have shown us what effective college and career preparation looks like and what it can do in real life,” said Anne Stanton, president and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance. “It’s time to build on their achievements and previous educational investments to provide coherent educational pathways to higher education and higher paying jobs for all of California’s young people.” Last year the state provided significant funding to strengthen the California Career Technical Education Incentive Grant program (CTEIG), A-G completion, community schools, and expanded learning.

The budget signed into law today reflects what research and experience show that adolescents need to succeed. It prioritizes strategies that create more seamless experiences across the transitions from middle to high school and high school to postsecondary and career, including:

Golden State Pathways Program

  • Funds communities to launch, scale, or strengthen pathways that prepare young people for college and career success
  • Provides young people with an integrated program of study that meets all requirements for entry into California’s public colleges and universities
  • Establishes opportunities to earn at least 12 college credits during high school, reducing the time and financial burden associated with postsecondary attainment
  • Provides students with work-based learning experiences that connect them to professional networks and provide opportunities to learn and earn
  • Funds technical assistance for participating districts, as well as a third-party evaluation of impact, positioning California as a national leader in college and career readiness evidence and accountability
  • Prioritizes districts with large populations of systemically underserved youth, or who are academically struggling—the same populations of learners that long-term, independent evaluation finds are most positively impacted by the Linked Learning approach

Dual Enrollment

  • Provides grants to communities to establish middle and early college high schools
  • Establishes dual enrollment opportunities through College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP)
  • Implements robust advising and success supports

Through these means, the Golden State Pathways Program and dual enrollment will stem some of the most serious and long-term social and economic impacts of the pandemic, including declining high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates, inequitable access to high-quality college and career preparation opportunities, and a broken talent pipeline that is keeping too many young people from the high-wage, high-growth careers that are the backbone of California’s economy.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform our educational systems, meaningfully engage our young people, and develop the workforce of tomorrow. We ensure that the vision for these investments is fully realized by emphasizing high-quality pathway experiences and creating intentional opportunities to connect and share across districts and sectors.

California has a history of bringing K–12 education, postsecondary institutions, and industry together for the good of our state and its people. We have the will and the know-how. The 2022–2023 state budget will accelerate progress toward our shared goals for educational attainment and workforce demand by investing in young people on their journey from learning to life. It recognizes that their journey is intrinsically connected to our statewide journey toward equity and justice, growth, and prosperity. This is our state’s golden opportunity. We get there together, and this budget puts more of us on that path.