California School Funding Plans Retain Strong Public Support

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released its May survey that gauges public opinion on state government affairs. From a California school funding aspect, Governor Brown’s revised budget proposals are receiving strong support. However, the California Business Roundtable (CBRT) poll says it is not as high as PPIC suggests.

Brown’s $1 billion push for Common Core standards implementation was unexpected, but 73 percent of adults and 83 percent of public school parents agree with the governor. About $170 will be spent per student to get them more acquainted with the new curriculum.

The following is the wording of the question and the results by demographic:

“As part of his revised budget plan, Governor Brown proposes providing K–12 schools with $1 billion in one-time revenues to fund teacher training, textbooks, and computers to support the implementation of the ‘Common Core State Standards,’ a new set of English and math standards that the state will roll out in 2014. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?”

California School Funding Plans Retain Strong Public Support 1
Credit: Public Policy Institute of California

When asked about the new local control funding formula, 77 percent of all adults and 83 percent of students’ parents showed favored plans. This is a fairly large increase from already strong support. In the PPIC’s April survey, support was at 71 percent and 72 percent, respectively.

Here is the question and results:

“In his revised budget plan, Governor Brown proposes giving each K–12 public school district more funding than they received in 2011–12 and providing additional funding to school districts that have more English language learners and lower-income students. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?”

California School Funding Plans Retain Strong Public Support 2
Credit: Public Policy Institute of California

It seems like Brown hit a home run with K-12 education advocates and parents with his funding proposals. The California Business Roundtable shows that support for the new funding formula is at 54.5 percent.

Albeit, the question presented was worded much differently, most likely impacting the disparity in results between the PPIC and CBRT:

“Generally speaking, do you support or oppose the governor’s proposed plan to allocate additional money to school districts with higher populations of high-needs students?”

California School Funding Plans Retain Strong Public Support 3
Credit: California Business Roundtable, Pepperdine University

Results from both organizations are well beyond each others’ margin of error (PPIC, +/- 3.8 percent, CBRT, +/- 3.5 percent). Fox & Hounds discussed the disparity between the two polls and highlighted the gap in respondents belief of a budget surplus or revenue.

Jeff Harrelson of M4 Strategies, the conductors of the CBRT poll, was quoted on Fox & Hounds regarding the differing results:

“Voters aren’t real engaged right now with the political process.  We just came off of a hard fought presidential campaign and a number of contentious ballot initiatives, so state budgets aren’t the first thing on voters’ minds.”

In both polls, Brown’s education funding proposals remain well-received by Californians. However, he will have to work with the Senate closely in the coming weeks. The Senate is proposing an alternative funding formula, but it does not stray far away from Brown’s concepts.

The California Constitution requires the state government to pass a budget by June 15. The state has a long history of missing budget deadlines, but this process should be smoother than the past with a Democratic majority despite disagreements between party members.