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Equity Funding Bill Recommended by Reparations Task Force Passes Assembly

Equity Funding Bill Recommended by Reparations Task Force Passes Assembly

California State Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) speaks during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., on April 3, 2018. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Travis Gillmore
Travis Gillmore

5/30/2024

Updated: 6/3/2024

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Following through on recommendations made by the state’s Reparations Task Force last year, a bill that would prioritize individuals in historically disadvantaged communities for career technical education grants passed the California Assembly May 23 on a vote of 72-0.
Assembly Bill 3131, authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, would give positive consideration to applicants located in historically lower-income neighborhoods.
The California Department of Education and the executive director of the State Board of Education would determine which communities, programs, and individuals are eligible for prioritization.
The author noted the need to put school districts in vulnerable communities—such as those that experienced discrimination, known as redlining, where financial services and resources were denied due to a neighborhood’s racial composition—first in line for grants because such would help improve graduation rates, college attendance, earnings, and skills needed to develop successful careers.
“Black students are not benefiting from these programs like their white peers,” Mr. McCarty said in legislative analyses. “By prioritizing historically redlined communities when awarding... grants, we can ensure that black students are able to benefit from high-quality vocational programs.”
He said the bill is a step in the right direction toward improving student outcomes.
“This would be an opportunity to make sure that we focus on moving forward in 2024 and rewrite historic wrongs,” Mr. McCarty said during an April hearing by the Assembly’s Education Committee. “We came up with, I think, an appropriate approach ... focusing on schools that have high African American student populations and targeting these existing state resources for career education to those schools and those students.”
He cited recommendations made by the reparations task force in June 2023 including collecting and analyzing data about technical education programs and funding and requiring all public high schools and colleges to offer access to at least one program.
Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights division between 2014 and 2018 revealed that African American students face disparities in educational opportunities, fewer resources, and have achievement gaps.
Programs targeted by the bill give students access to multiyear courses integrating academics with hands-on experience to prepare them for college and careers in a variety of fields—including 15 industries and 57 pathways. Partnerships between schools and businesses would offer opportunities for post-secondary education and career development.
Supporters said the measure would help address inequalities.
“Investment into high quality ... programs that combine academic education with occupational training offers essential tools against persistent inequities,” Troy Williams, public health researcher and chief impact officer at the Greater Sacramento Area Urban League—a nonprofit focused on empowering marginalized communities—said during the April hearing. “This bill will help break down those barriers to educational access and create pathways for economic mobility for underserved populations.”
He suggested the proposal would prove beneficial for communities across the state.
“By prioritizing equity and inclusion in our education workforce development initiatives, we can build stronger and more resilient communities and create opportunities for all Californians to thrive,” Mr. Williams said.
Another supporter, with a background in education, said the measure would help some students be able to visualize their future.
“For many of them, it’s the hands on, skills-based learning experiences that have helped them develop an image of themselves in a future career of their choice,” Jahmese Fort Williams, executive vice president of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, said in a hearing by the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee April 23. “It has also increased their interest in school because the skills and knowledge were applicable to their future careers.”
Costs to implement the proposal remain uncertain, with the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee estimating “minor” one-time and ongoing costs without providing dollar estimates in analyses published in April.
If approved, the bill would shift existing funding from some school districts to others, according to the appropriation committee’s consultants.
The state allocates about $300 million each year to the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program and another $150 million annually to the K through 12th grade component of the state’s Strong Workforce Program—meant to develop workers earning low incomes into living wage positions and students whose first choice, ultimately, might not be college.
No opposition was listed in legislative analyses, and the bill cleared three committees and the Assembly floor without a single no vote recorded.
Having passed its house of origin, the bill is now awaiting assignment to respective committees in the Senate and will be considered in the coming weeks.
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Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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