Policy Agenda

Reshaping public education in California requires big changes to state education policy

Introducing Opportunity-Filled Futures: EdVoice Institute's Policy Agenda to Reshape California's Public School System

California’s legislative policies, school-based practices, and accountability measures do not sufficiently prioritize nor equitably support children from low-income communities. Despite these inequities, children from low-income communities often receive fewer supports while facing more challenges than their higher-income peers.
We know what needs to be done to solve the education crisis in California. With decades of experience in education, social justice, and racial equity, EdVoice Institute has developed a long-term, comprehensive policy agenda to ground our sister organization, EdVoice’s, policy recommendations and advocacy actions during each legislative cycle.
The agenda includes five priority policy pillars (outlined below) that we believe are critical in reshaping California’s public education system to meet the needs of all students.
Many higher-income students already have access to these key focus areas either through their higher performing public schools or through supplemental supports–often funded by their parents/caregivers–such as after-school tutors, mental health supports, enrichment activities, and more, as well as greater academic engagement at home.  
By focusing on these key pillars–as well as three foundational conditions necessary to deliver on each area–we can level the playing field so that all children are academically and socially-emotionally prepared for futures filled with opportunity.

Policy Pillars

1. Effective Early Education

Purpose: Early childhood education provides an important foundation for social and emotional development, future academic achievement, and a lifelong love of learning.

Goal: All children from low-income communities, ages 2-4, are served in high-quality, publicly funded preschool and Transitional Kindergarten (TK) programs.


2. High-Quality, Diverse Educators

Purpose: By creating a more diverse school environment that includes effective teachers, strong principals, and qualified counselors, we can improve outcomes for students from low-income communities.

Goal: Every high-needs school is led by an experienced, successful leader, all classrooms are staffed with effective teachers, and students have access to qualified counselors.


3. Robust, Rigorous Courses & Materials

Purpose: Ensuring every student has access to grade-level content allows students to meet rigorous standards and reach their full potential.

Goal: All students from high-needs schools have access to rigorous core and enrichment classes, college- and career-aligned courses and pathways, and grade-level, high-quality instructional materials.


Boy and Girl read Spot's Big Learning Book

4. Evidence-Based Early Literacy & Numeracy Programs

Purpose: Building foundational skills in literacy and numeracy early in life is a key indicator of academic achievement later on.

Goal: All high-needs elementary schools will provide evidence-based literacy and numeracy programs to ensure that students meet or exceed grade-level standards by the end of grade 3.


5. Additional Supports & Learning Time

Purpose: Extended learning opportunities such as 
high-dosage tutoring, summer programs, and community resources help students build strong relationships, explore their passions, and support their basic needs.

Goal: All students from high-needs schools have access to resources and supports that address their developmental, academic, social-emotional, mental, physical, and basic needs, along with school, home, and community-based extended learning opportunities.


High school girl draws on an easel.

Foundational Conditions

Transforming policies and practices across these five pillars will significantly benefit students from low-income communities, but the pillars alone are insufficient. To truly deliver results across these critical pillars, it is also necessary to improve the following foundational conditions of our public education system:

  • Adequate and Equitable Funding
    Adequate and equitably-distributed funding is essential to sustaining a high-quality education for all students from low-income communities.
  • Accountability, Continual Learning, and Collaboration
    Good policies require schools to create systems of accountability, continual learning, and collaboration to support growth and development while maintaining high standards and interventions when needed.
  • Stability of Students’ Basic Needs
    Studies show that students learn best when they are safe and supported, not just academically but more broadly. We will support partners as they lead efforts to pass policies that address food and housing insecurity, healthcare access, and other areas that significantly impact students’ ability to learn and access opportunity.


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