On Education: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

When it comes to public policy issues, education is as convoluted as they come.  Progress, where it is to be found, it incremental and often halting.  But we’ve seen some hard-fought advances over the last six months that are worth a nod at least, even if we’re not ready to strike up the band.

At the top of the list is an agreement reached by Governor Brown and ​legislative leaders on a proposed spending package, increasing ​funding for all segments of public education.​

Key components of the agreement included:

  • $5.2 million ongoing funding to expand Cal Grant eligibility for former foster youth, as proposed in SB 940 (Beall).
  • $125 million dedicated to teacher recruitment, training, and retention, to address California’s ongoing teacher shortage.
  • $3.67 billion in additional funding needed to fully fund the Local Control Funding formula that structures support for California’s K-12 public schools.

In higher education news, a much-needed increase in state funding for public higher education means that the University of California and the California State University systems will not increase tuition and will be able to enroll 1,500 and ​3,600 more students, respectively.

Finally, we turn to Alameda County, where voters passed a half-cent sales tax on June 5th to increase access to childcare and preschool.  The program will provide early education scholarships and support for the early ed workforce, and other counties will be watching as the program rolls out.

We know the need for more quality early childhood education is there. Even as Silicon Valley performs better than other regions in terms of access to early childhood education, thousands of children still go without.  When educational inequities take root before a child even arrives in preschool, equality of opportunity rings hollow, and our region suffers on many levels.

A big win for young children occurred in May, when SVCF and partner NBC Bay Area hosted the top six candidates for the California governor primary. For the first time ever, candidates for elected office talked about young children on statewide, live TV. SVCF’s Choose Children 2018 campaign has been working behind-the-scenes with each candidate to ensure they are all champions for young children – both during the campaign and afterward. Because of this work, the candidates discussed their positions on expanding access to early childhood education.

Debates don’t solve problems. But public fora, like this debate, are a part of a long term, tireless strategy to build a lasting relationship with the next Governor, to ensure that person—whomever it may be—is on the side of young kids.

 

Special thanks to Margaret Daoud-Gray from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Remy Goldsmith from Silicon Valley Community Foundation for their contributions to this blog.

 


Mid-Year Policy Review: Immigration Policy – Ouch

Immigration is our lifeblood in Silicon Valley.  The 57 percent of our STEM workforce hailing from abroad is an outlier even among tech hubs in this country – and is a critical part of the Valley’s secret sauce.

The 2018 SVCIP made several federal policy recommendations again this year to streamline high-skilled immigration to further the Valley’s competitiveness. But the powers that be haven’t been feeling us on this, shall we say. Here’s the litany:

  • The Administration has proposed eliminating the International Entrepreneur Rule, which granted international entrepreneurs temporary visas if they provide evidence of venture funding and jobs to be created.
  • The Administration has proposed eliminating the work authorization for H-4 spouses of H-1B recipients.
  • Premium, or accelerated, review of H-1B visas was cancelled earlier this year.
  • Chinese visa applicants are now subject to heightened scrutiny and shorter visa stays. This is the Administration’s response to suspected IP theft by Chinese nationals.

The importance of immigrants to Silicon Valley’s vitality is not in question.  We will continue to find new ways to encourage open immigration policies consistent with our national identity and the well-being of the innovation economy.

Coming Up:  Our Final Mid-Year Policy Update – On Education: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Thanks go out to Peter Leroe-Muñoz for his contributions to this post.