Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget includes a big change in the way schools are funded. Under the plan, school funding would be greatly simplified, with most of the control over how money is spent moving from the state to local districts. How would the proposed changes affect our schools and students?

Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University
Eric Heins, vice president of the California Teacher's Association
Mahala Archer, administrator for special projects for Twin Rivers Unified School District

  • erictremont

    About 35 years ago Left-wing advocacy groups in California began filing lawsuits to force the state to equalize public school funding per student.  The lawsuits were successful, and the plaintiffs got what they wanted—these court decisions, along with Prop. 13, resulted in what amounts to a state takeover of public school financing, and thus funding formulas are now very rigid.  Now the same advocates are complaining that the funding formulas are too rigid.  What hypocrisy—as the old saying goes, what comes around goes around.  The Left creatd this mess, they have only themselves to blame. 

  • KarenWestmont

    Does the proposal address the distribution of privately-raised funds?  Private donations in rich districts like Hillsborough have matched 50% of the state’s expenditure whereas poor districts can raise little.  , I understand that Minnesota requires the sharing of private moneys in addition to sharing property tax.

    • northbeachsf

      First, you need to address how much less a rich district like Hillsborough receives from the state versus a poor district (normally in the neighborhood of $1,500 per student).  Second, you need to examine tax deductions to private schools in terms of fairness. Third, create and be involved in your own district to raise funds on the local level.  The way California’s education system went to last is trying to make parity at the state level.  It is real simple: tell richer districts parcel taxes and private donations will go to the state as large of California and people simply decide not to pass a parcel tax nor donate as much directly to the school.  The more involved parents are directly with the school and not at the state level correlates with the success of each school.  Personally, I would also likely have my child attend a private school if all extra programs (library, math enrichment) were slashed and would not donate if it just went to some mysterious pot in Sacramento.

  • Rebecca

    A big issue on the table is funding to community colleges, and the cuts being made related to “continuing education” – which is falling out of favor as the state mandated focus shifts to fundamentals and vocational training. This means courses like photography, art, and languages are getting the ax – the kinds of courses that are often only accessible to low income people through their local community colleges.Reminds one of the Ashington Group – some poor coal minors who took an evening class on art appreciation and ended up becoming famed painters in the 1930s. There is a play about them, THE PITMEN PAINTERS, being performed in Mountain View. Our current system is putting emphasis on curriculum that will “lead to a job” — but who’s to say?

  • ahrashb

    Beyond the fact of too little funding overall, I think the subtext of this discussion is a question of trust. Whom do we trust to make the best decisions for our kids’ educations? Parents? Individual teachers? Principals? District superintendents? State educational board members? State congressional representatives? While accountability is an important aspect of trust, equally important is the need to create room for risk-taking and failure. If a teacher tries something innovative, empowered by the new funding models, and it doesn’t work very well, what is our response? Do we celebrate the knowledge gained and support that teacher as she continues to seek better resources and strategies, or do we fire her for failure to perform?

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