People move to California for a variety of reasons: the weather, the food, the laid-back atmosphere. And while living along the coast may make up for the extreme natural disasters and high cost of living in the Golden State, there's another thing that draws people there: California schools.
Let's take a look at some ways the state of California nailed education.
Academic Opportunities & STEM Education
California is home to some of the most prestigious schools in the US, and the state offers many options when it comes to a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Sage Journals states that a STEM education could increase opportunities for underrepresented students.
The California Department of Education explains that California prioritizes STEM education for students K through 12. In fact, an annual California STEAM Symposium (STEM with art incorporated into it) was introduced in 2017. The same symposium will be offered in February 2024. The event was created in partnership with the California Dedicated to Education Foundation and the California Department of Education, as well as the California Commission of the Status of Women and Girls.
The state's STEM initiatives appear to be paying off. In January 2023, Scholaroo reported that California schools boasted the highest math scores of the year, implying that while grades may have plummeted in recent years, they didn't fall as hard as some other states amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
California also leads the charge with some of the most impressive universities in the country. The University of Southern California, or USC, boasts the best student life in California, with UCLA not far behind.
Universal Meals Program
During the 2022-2023 school year, CA.gov reported that California became the first state to implement a statewide Universal Meals Program for school children, which ensured that children did not need to pay for their lunches. Breakfast and lunch became free at all California schools.
The program includes three different necessities to ensure its efficacy. The first includes a meal mandate to include “both a nutritiously adequate breakfast and lunch.” The second pillar states that high-poverty schools are required to participate in federal provisions and the third ensures that funds be allocated to provide state meal reimbursement so the program can be covered.
With its focus on food, it shouldn't come as a surprise that during the 2021-2022 school year, $150 million went to supporting kitchen infrastructure upgrades and nutrition in California schools.
Later Start Times
In August 2022, Ed Source reported that a new law was implemented, mandating school start later in the state of California. The bill demanded high school begin no earlier than 8:30 am, while middle school begin no earlier than 8 am.
The law was signed in 2019, but schools were given a few years to actually implement the changes. Fortunately, Superintendent Robert Frausto, the superintendent in Fresno County, said the change was surprisingly cost-effective. “In our case, we've saved probably three to four drivers,” he told the outlet. “So, we're saving a couple hundred thousand dollars.”
In March 2023, CA.gov reported that California successfully created more than 18% of the country's new jobs in January, making the state a great option for those looking to stay beyond college and pursue employment opportunities.
In their report, CA.gov revealed that California has added more than 3 million jobs since April 2020, which marks the biggest hiring spree in the country. And in 2023, Finance Buzz added that California is among the top 15 states to find a good job at the time, as it also showed state increased payrolls by over 4%.
When students aren't busy with work, California has incredible weather and a huge range of scenery, from snowy mountains to sprawling beaches, for students to enjoy.
In recent years, research has delved into the effect of weather on youth education, and scientists have, unsurprisingly, concluded that weather is essential to physical activity and play, which, in turn, affects childhood development.
The book, “The Impact of Extreme Weather on School Education”, reads, “Ensuring a school has weather-protective strategies to maintain the recommended levels of physical activity and access to unstructured play is a critical decision with long-term impact.”
California boasts the largest population in the country and, according to Wise Voter, it is the second most diverse state with the largest Hispanic and Latino population. In Daryl G. Smith and Natalie B. Schonfeld's piece, The Benefits of Diversity, the authors share recent research on diversity and its educational and social benefits.
“In essence, the benefits of diversity for those in the minority are that it positively influences their likelihood of succeeding, whether this means staying at the institution as an employee or student or contributing to the overall purpose of the institution…”
So, while everything isn't necessarily perfect in California, the ways the state nails education– albeit in some ways that are out of their control– are undeniable. Whether you're relocating your family, searching for university options for a high school senior, or looking to return to school, California may be worth considering.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock.com.