SACRAMENTO (June 27, 2016) — California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed the state budget, including two budget trailer bills, SB 828 and AB 1602, that together enact landmark legislation to improve college access and readiness for all California students.
Due to the tremendous leadership of Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, California students of all backgrounds – especially students who are low income, English learners, or foster youth – will have greater opportunity to attend and graduate from the state’s four-year public universities.
The College for All Coalition, composed of over 50 diverse organizations representing community, education, student, parent, labor, faith, and civil rights groups throughout California, applauds this important step in reinvesting in California public higher education. Members of the College for All Coalition, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California, led on-the-ground efforts to actively support the passage of this historic education legislation.
Currently, less than half of California’s high school graduates are eligible to attend the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU). A key reason for this is that public schools in California that enroll significant numbers of low income, English learners, and foster youth students typically have fewer A-G courses, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and college advising and counseling resources. Moreover, a crisis of disinvestment in and insufficient funding for public higher education has made it harder for California students to attend and afford the UC.
The state budget and the two education trailer bills, SB 828 and AB 1602, will level the playing field and expand the pie of educational opportunity in California by:
• Establishing a K-12 College Readiness Block Grant in the amount of $200 million to increase the college readiness and eligibility of California public high school students (especially those who are low income, English learners, and foster youth) through greater access to A-G courses, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and college advising and counseling;
• Expanding University of California (UC) enrollment slots by 2,500 slots for the 2017-2018 school year through an additional $18.5 million in the state budget;
• Giving qualified California resident students from high schools that enroll 75% or more students who are low income, English learners, and foster youth a fair shot at attending the UC; and
• Promoting student success and graduation completion by allocating $20 million for UC student outreach and student support services for low income and underrepresented students.
These investments will create a pipeline of educational opportunity and success for K-12 public school students – especially for those who are low income, English learners, or foster youth of all backgrounds – to be better prepared for and graduate from California’s public universities. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the state will face a workforce shortage of 1.1 million college graduates by 2030 unless there is greater investment. California’s future depends on reinvesting in public education and ensuring that every California student, regardless of socioeconomic background, has an equal opportunity to attend and graduate from the UC and CSU.
Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, said, “California’s future depends on reinvesting in public education so that every California student has an equal opportunity to attend and graduate from the state’s world class public universities. We thank Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León for this historic, landmark legislation that will ‘expand the pie’ of educational opportunity by expanding UC enrollment slots and also level the playing field so that all California students, regardless of income or zip code, have a fair shot at a four-year college degree.”
Chris Punongbayan, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, said, “We’re investing in the most vulnerable and underserved kids who, like their peers from more affluent families, should have an equal chance to go to college. This is an investment worth making because we are supporting the potential of every California student.”
Andrew Medina, policy manager for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California, said, “We look forward to partnering with all stakeholders to effectively implement this important legislation. We will continue our efforts to ensure that the California dream of a college degree is a reality for all California students – especially those who are low-income, English learners, and foster youth – and to build a pipeline of educational opportunity and success from K-12 all the way through graduation from the UC and CSU.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California is a joint project of Advancing Justice-Los Angeles and Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco.