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The Linked Learning Alliance Responds to Governor Newsom’s 2022–2023 Budget Proposal

January 10, 2022 | Anne Stanton

The Linked Learning Alliance applauds Governor Newsom’s budget proposal for the 2022–2023 fiscal year. The more than $2 billion in funding for college and career pathways and dual enrollment constitutes a transformative investment in youth ages 14 to 24 who are in the decade of difference, a formative period of development when young people establish their identities, dispositions, and lifelong aspirations. In the U.S., millions disconnect from learning and their potential during this time, a reality exacerbated by the pandemic.

Linked Learning is an approach to education, led by the Linked Learning Alliance, that helps young people discover their purpose and their power by combining college and career preparation. Independent research conducted by SRI Education shows that Linked Learning inspires students and helps them gain the academic and job skills to flourish in the economy of the future. Compared with similar peers in traditional high schools, students in certified Linked Learning pathways have higher graduation rates and lower drop-out rates. They earn more credits, complete more college preparatory courses, and develop greater 21st century skills. Linked Learning has especially positive effects for students who start high school behind academically and for students of color.

The budget framework unveiled by Gov. Newsom today signifies a major step forward in fueling critical alignment between our state’s education and workforce systems. It builds on last year’s historic investments in the California Career Technical Education Incentive Grant program (CTEIG), A-G completion, community schools, and expanded learning—and stands to catapult more than 10 years of cutting-edge work from the Linked Learning field into a new era of reinvigoration and growth. It includes:

  • $1.5 billion one-time Proposition 98 General Fund over four years to support the development of pathway programs focused on technology (including computer science, green technology, and engineering), health care, education (including early education), and climate-related fields. These programs are predicated on developing local partnerships that bring together school systems, higher education institutions, employers, and other relevant community stakeholders. The budget includes a companion investment in postsecondary pathways, including $45 million in higher education funding for curricular pathways software and public-private partnerships for STEM, education, and health care career preparation.
  • $500 million one-time Proposition 98 General Fund, also available over four years, to strengthen and expand student access and participation in dual enrollment opportunities that are also coupled with student advising and support services. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take classes that both count towards high school graduation and college credit, with some students able to graduate high school with an associate’s degree. Research shows that dual enrollment has positive impacts on students’ educational outcomes and economic mobility.
  • Important investments in expanding and diversifying California’s educator pipeline, including $54.4 billion to support teacher recruitment and preparation. Coupled with investments in expanding education-focused college and career pathways, this investment addresses acute staffing shortages statewide while enabling communities to grow their own educator pipeline.

The governor’s budget is especially poignant as communities throughout California confront twin education and workforce crises caused by COVID-19, including declines in high school graduation, assessment scores, and college enrollment rates throughout California. Meanwhile, industries that will prove critical to our state’s educational and economic recovery are facing major labor shortages as the pandemic persists. This historic investment in rigorous, relevant, and accelerated educational opportunities has real potential to set the communities most impacted by COVID-19 on a path to sustained education and economic justice.

By investing in college and career pathways and dual enrollment that prepare the next generation for careers in California’s high-impact industries, the proposal reflects a profound understanding by our elected officials that youth development is workforce development and workforce development is economic development. Through the budget proposal, Gov. Newsom has embraced more than a decade of evidence that demonstrates the positive impacts of bringing high school, postsecondary education, and workforce development together through high-quality, integrated college and career preparation offered through the Linked Learning approach.

Linked Learningstudents learn through a pathway connected to a local industry sector, such as those proposed in the budget—healthcare, green energy, K–12 education and early childhood development, engineering, information technology, business and logistics, and more. Linked Learning pathways include student-centered learning connected to postsecondary and industry requirements; a scaffolded continuum of meaningful work experiences and real-world applications of learnings; and supports that meet the social, emotional, and developmental needs of each young person. Through Linked Learning, youth experience accelerated college opportunities, such as dual enrollment, that put them on track to successfully enter and persist in postsecondary, addressing persistent equity gaps in California dual enrollment programs.

Today’s blueprint is a testament to coordinated and sustained action led by the Linked Learning Alliance and in partnership with a network of educators, community leaders, and industry partners who have worked together to ignite the college and career ambitions of our state’s young people and continues to organize and convene to navigate the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

Practices built through a decade of implementation of Linked Learning, now in more than 60 districts throughout California, will serve as critical infrastructure for the governor’s proposal, ensuring high-quality, on-the-ground implementation that generates education and economic equity for our students and communities. According to the SRI Education research, quality is key to driving equitable outcomes for students in college and career pathways. The longitudinal study found statistically significant impacts for students in quality certified Linked Learning pathways compared with similar students in traditional high school programs; the findings did not hold for students in pathways that had not been certified.

The Linked Learning Alliance is eager to share what we have learned and activate our network as partners, resources, and advocates. We look forward to working with Gov. Newsom and the state legislature to refine the budget proposal to ensure pathways meet evidence-based, high-quality standards that generate excellence and equity in education and the workforce, and drive continuous improvement through California’s Cradle-to-Career data system. Our youth deserve our full efforts. The well-being of our communities and prosperity of our state depend on it. Let's move together, for their future.