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Monday, October 24, 2016

California is placing a new emphasis on local community needs and closing the poverty achievement gap in education, and the rest of the country would do well to follow.

As our country’s economy has limped along from one crisis to another over the past several years, the impact of state and federal austerity measures on communities has exposed our troubling national priorities. A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that despite the Great Recession technically ending in 2009, schools have yet to return to pre-recession spending levels, and in some states the cuts reach up to 20 percent per pupil. These drastic cuts have become the norm as communities in states that have resorted to austerity to put out short-term fires must now cope with the fallout from such measures.

And then the government shut down.

So on top of underfunded schools, we had Head Start agencies on the chopping block, long-term WIC funding up in the airfurloughed workers flooding unemployment offices, and the nation on the brink of defaulting on our debt yet again. For many financially insecure families, it’s easy to see why they might hesitate before placing trust in their representatives in Washington or the state capitol to solve these problems.

As a result, the idea of robust and inclusive public education seems like a thing of the past. Cuts in education spending disproportionately affect low-income students, taking resources away from the institutions designed to prepare a generation for an already murky labor market.

California is taking a different path. Rather than normalizing those drastic cuts in school funding, the state is reinvesting the gains from its economic turnaround into providing its students a path to a brighter future. This summer, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the most significant education reform in a generation, which passed the legislature with bipartisan support.

For decades, mountains of red tape and state-mandated programs have hamstrung districts that felt that top-down regulation was detrimental to the quality of education they could provide. The LCFF replaces the old, convoluted funding formula with one designed for equity and transparency. First, the state gives all school districts a ”base grant” per pupil of approximately $7,000 depending on grade level. Those funds are supplemented with grants based on student needs and demographics. For example, a low-income, ESL, or special needs student’s district would receive roughly $3,000 more for that pupil. An additional $1.25 billion is earmarked specifically for resources to help teachers shift to the new Common Core standards.

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  • idamag

    Go California. An illiterate nation is a weak nation.

  • Pamby50

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Jerry Brown trying to do this on a National Level. A good education for all.

    • John Pigg

      I disagree, education should be left directly to the states. That allows us to see what works and what doesn’t.

      The phenomenal advantage to this system is that we can determine and measure achievements and failures. With a National Level policy it is difficult or in some cases impossible to measure because there are too many variables.

      State education allows for smaller case studies and trials without the national risk.

      • foundingprinciples

        {education should be left directly to the states.}


      • Pamby50

        I understand what you’re saying John. I wrote that in frustration. In Memphis they voted to give up their school charter. I thought that was a mistake. Starting this year all the schools are being run by the county. Seeing that the county school district had no say in the matter, they are now seeking to break off and form their own school districts. They don’t want to deal with educating the children of Memphis because they don’t measure up to their standards. The suburban districts will raise taxes to pay for their own districts. So in essence, we are back to square one. All the money wasted on fighting legal battles has been for naught. This could have been used for educating the children. What a waste. SNAFU,

    • foundingprinciples

      Jerry can maybe help to get more laws passed for trans-bathrooms, eh? Or many that law he passed that a child can have multiple parents would help our families, right?

  • 4sanity4all

    Good for California! They recently became prosperous, and they are spreading the good fortune around education. Everyone talks about how much they value children, but actions have not met words recently, and I am glad that California is leading the way and investing in education. I wish them nothing but success, and I hope that all other states will follow their lead. It also sounds like they are using common sense to implement the new funding. Smart, very smart.

  • foundingprinciples

    Too much has already been spent on education, even though Leftists caterwaul for “more, more, more,” as always.

    We have increased our per-pupil spending, in real terms, SEVENFOLD since the 1950s, and what did we get? Lower achievement. The decline really started from the mid-1960s when the Leftist programs started their infestation in our schools.

    Also, outside of the Swiss, we spend more per pupil than any country in the world!