When California Governor Jerry Brown released his 2013-2014 budget, questions about his K-12 education funding plan surfaced. Gov. Brown aimed to increase funding at a higher rate for school districts with heavy low-income and English-learning populations. He defied the principle of equity. However, Californians of all political backgrounds are showing support.
To fund school districts equitably is to be impartial to the specific situations that each district faces. The state budget is allowing California education funding to increase for K-12 schools, but increases are being focused to kickstart the achievement of under-performing schools. In doing so, Gov. Brown decided to take the road of equality. Passage of Proposition 30 during the last election cycle provides California these spending options. Tweet
Lower-income districts face the challenge of students not having access to educational resources at home. Generally, the students' environment does not foster academic readiness. English learning students also require extra resources to provide targeted instruction in language arts.
The way California would determine funding increases for lower-income school districts is through a formula explained in the budget proposal:
"When the proportion of English language learners and economically disadvantaged students exceeds 50 percent of its total student population, the school district will receive an additional concentration grant equal to 35 percent of the base grant for each English language learner and economically disadvantaged student above the 50‑percent threshold."
An economically disadvantaged student is defined by the qualification of a free or reduced-price lunch.
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) conducted a survey digging into the perception of Gov. Brown's budget. When asked about extra funding increase for disadvantaged school districts, Californians showed support:Credit: Public Policy Institute of California
Helping fund disadvantaged school districts was supported across party lines. As shown above, 81 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents/decline-to-state, and 52 percent of Republicans favored the plan. Why would there be opposition to helping K-12 students who might not have access to the same academic resources? Tweet
Quoted in a previous IVN article, Steve Garcia, of the Ontario-Montclair school board, called the funding a double-edged sword. He explained that districts are "essentially penalized for doing better." Schools with higher-income populations tend to perform at a higher level than lower-income schools.
Overall, support for Gov. Brown's budget proposal is identical to that of the K-12 funding plan, finding support across party lines:Credit: Public Policy Institute of California
If Gov. Brown's budget is enacted, per-student spending will increase by $1,100 by the next academic year. K-12 per-student spending will increase by a total of $2,700 by the 2016-2017 academic year. In the next fiscal year, the state would spend 2.7 billion more on education than it will this year. Tweet
The governor is claiming that the California deficit has disappeared. Most will take the statement with a grain of salt, given the state's budget history. The voters put their trust in the state government when it passed Proposition 30 and it's important that the trust is kept. Approval ratings are at their highest since January 2011 for Gov. Brown and the state legislature. With education as the root of state spending, Californians agree that concentration on disadvantaged school districts is a wise decision.