Skip to content

The Budget Center communications team sat down with Jonathan Kaplan (he/him), Senior Policy Fellow at the Budget Center, who conducts research on education and tax policy issues to support the equitable allocation of state resources.

This Q&A series is your chance to get to know our team, their areas of expertise, and how their work at the Budget Center supports policy change in California. In this conversation, we’ll explore Jonathan’s journey from teaching to policy and how that has influenced his commitment to shaping a more equitable education system for California students.

This interview was edited by Kat Petsalis, Communications Strategist at the Budget Center.

Can you tell us about your role at the Budget Center?

As a senior policy fellow at the Budget Center, my focus is on K-12 education and other areas within the education space. This includes everything from pre-K through community colleges, giving a comprehensive frame for my work. I also consider tax and revenue policies and their impact on the state budget, with a specific emphasis on how they support education. An important part of my role is translating this complex information for both internal and external audiences.

Within Pre-K to community colleges, how do you decide what to focus on?

Well, it’s a dynamic process. Sometimes it’s reactive, responding to current issues in the policy space. Other times, it’s a strategic decision based on the students we aim to assist. For example, we work to increase resources for English learners whose linguistic assets present an opportunity for California to become a multilingual state but who often lack support. The focus on English learners is also fueled by my personal passion for helping students achieve biliteracy.

What inspired your interest in research and public policy?

My journey into research and public policy began during my years as a teacher. Working in schools, I encountered challenges that couldn’t be easily fixed at the ground level. This motivated me to explore how to make systemic changes, leading me to analytical and public policy work. The goal has always been to contribute to a more effective and equitable education system.

Before teaching, my experiences in Latin America ignited a passion for supporting those with fewer resources. This led me to focus on education as a means of improving lives, particularly for students adjusting to the U.S. education system who helped shape my interest in bilingual education. And recognizing the need for systemic change brought me to the Budget Center.

What is something exciting you have recently worked on or are currently working on?

Recently, I’ve been involved in advancing California’s English Learner Roadmap policy. This framework guides state and local policies for English learners, and translating it into practical strategies for the policy environment is an exciting challenge. Specifically, advocating for the reauthorization of a program supporting bilingual teacher development was a recent success, addressing significant gaps in bilingual educator-to-student ratios.

What’s one thing you can’t get through the workday without?

Coffee with just a hint of cream! Also, incorporating movement into my routine helps keep my mind and body engaged throughout the day.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I cherish spending time with my seven-year-old son, Jonah. Whether it’s mountain biking, hiking, or any outdoor activity that keeps us moving, I find joy in connecting with nature and enjoying quality time with him.

Media Contacts

Kyra Moeller
Communications Strategist

Stay in the know.

Join our email list!