(Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Governor Jerry Brown wants to dramatically restructure the way California allocates funding to schools by providing extra funds to districts with large numbers of needy students. But critics say the formula benefits mostly urban areas to the detriment of more affluent suburban districts. We’ll discuss the plan and check in with some Bay Area school districts to get their response.

Guests:
Margaret Weston, research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and author of a Feb 20th PPIC publication examining the current funding system and the governor's proposal
Bill Evers, research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former U.S. assistant secretary of education for planning, evaluation and policy development
David Plank, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)
Stephen McMahon, chief business officer for the San Jose Unified School District
Christopher Learned, associate superintendent at Acalanes Union High School District

  • thucy

    I work in Marin County. The notion that “more affluent suburban” school districts need MORE funding or even equal funding as poor districts is insane. Perhaps the only amenity that Redwood High students are currently missing is a private golf course on-campus. But if you suggest it, they will build it, so please don’t bring it up.

    I note that Mill Valley has two luxury public swimming facilities, in addition to multiple private tennis club pools. Further, the Tam High and Redwood High pools are each sixteen lanes. Not six lanes, baby, but SIXTEEN. Count ’em! Each pool! Meanwhile, in Marin City, you’d be lucky to find a drinking fountain.

    (And please don’t tell me black folk can’t swim, our old pool club in New York (Asphalt Green) sent a teenaged African-Chinese-American swimmer to compete in the 2012 Olympics, and I have seen with my own eyes African-American swimmers from UCB’s team compete at the vaunted RCP Tiburon Mile – they rocked it on technique and speed. Black kids will excel at water sports – if we will ever start letting them in our pools.)

    So, sports aside, I have to agree with Jerry Brown on this one.

  • Skip Conrad

    It’s interesting that presence of English language learners in our school system is voluntary on our part. Because we have such high immigration rates, our school are filled with English language learners, for whom we need to pay extra. If you want to save same money, merely reduce immigration rates. I mean, they are already, by far, the highest in the world.

    • ralvek

      ever wonder why these immigrants are here? in any case in one generation many of them far outperform the “natives”. education is about helping create a productive citizenry so they can pay for your retirement.

      • and many of them under perform the indigenous.

    • thucy

      Right Skip,
      Like all those Chinese immigrants whose kids need remedial English but end up as over forty percent of Berkeley grads!
      I’d say remedial English is a great investment.
      By the way, why can’t white people keep up with Asian student test scores? Maybe y’all need some remedial math classes. I don’t mind paying for that. I think it’s a better investment than blowing it on more “drug war” nonsense.

      • Why not give selective remedial classes to all groups so that the student distribution reflects the profile of the state? The breed mix, that is.

  • Guest

    What always concerns me is the assumption that a strictly equivalent distribution of funds is the ideal. In fact, it seems to me that our legacy of educational inequality in the U.S. has resulted in a tier of schools which in fact require MORE resources just to have a chance to achieve the same results of more privileged districts. We need to be more concerned with incentives for learning and less concerned with incentives for administrators.

  • ralvek

    Mr Evers: please stop repeating the recycled right-wing rhetoric, the same tired old arguments. Folks like you who have spent your lives creating this mess are responsible for the destruction of the state’s education system.

    • thucy

      You can’t say he’s not entertaining. He sounds like a real character. And given his position, I’m glad he’s so huffy – he sounds like a freaked-out dinosaur who’s just realized the meteor shower has begun.

  • ralvek

    Mr Evers; why so defensive? You have no qualification but THREE degrees in political science! YOU are the problem – we don’t need political hacks – we need real educators.

  • sosnewark

    Educational Foundations are now the basis for inequality.
    Equality is that every child have the same opportunities and resources in school. The Educational Foundation in Los Altos ask for $ 1000
    per child per year and funds art, music, school garden…
    Other schools have no Educational Foundations and have to rely on
    fundraisers, parents selling cookies to each other, which will raise money for copy paper, no art and music teachers.
    Equality would be that all students have the same opportunities and resources available for them in Public School. Look at the individual students in different districts, the end result.

  • Bob Caveney

    Regarding money required to fund schools; money will be most helpful when school districts use a more modern ‘method of management’.

    Today school districts use a method called The Taylor System. For example: teachers get the teaching schedule from central planning (curriculum & instruction) but don’t report BACK to central planning, but instead to principals who report to someone else. This structure is called Functional Foremanship, and is the 4th of 5 elements of The Taylor System, a method of management invented in 1980.

    Using a ‘method of management’ designed for ‘education work’, and supporting that with money will get the results we all want. This is something that teacher union people do support, and business people support and parents support.

    From author of SCHOOLING For Readiness And Drive and forthcoming author of Leading out.

  • disqus_cpkLKakWQO

    I think the problem is a sheer lack of oversight on how funds available at a school level are applied to support programs within the school. Our local elementary school is well funded, receives nearly $50K/ year for site programs. And yet, the $7000 spent on the Reading intervention program last year was nothing more than lip service because all of that $7k went towards a substitute teacher salary. There was no measurement of student progress at all and these students drift through the system into Middle school. Really sad to see this happening at a well funded, high achieving school.

  • Skip Conrad

    Why not make the passing of an English literacy test, as an prerequisite for issuance of a H1-B work visa, or an F1 student visa, or even a J1, as well as an immigrant visa (i.e. green card). Let’s outsource the ESL classes, and save public money!

  • Natalie Forood

    What people don’t realize is that kids who absolutely do not need to be in the English learners program end up on it because of one simple question on the kindergarten “questionnaire” which asks the parents if there is a language other than English that’s spoken at home. Thinking it was a positive thing, I answered “yes” and my kids who do not speak any language other than English got placed into the English learners program for 5 years! I could not get them out of it no matter
    what I tried. They had to take annual assessments that were useless and concluded absolutely nothing. Many kids who should not be in the program get placed and the school will keep them there just to get funding. Additionally, they get pulled out of class for all these nonsense assessments and end up, not only missing on what is being taught, but they get stigmatized by their peers as being behind in some way. What a waste of tax payer dollars. I am in favor of having this for kids who actually need it; who might have immigrated, etc. but not for kids who obviously only speak English and are doing well at school.

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