What’s Wrong with California Schools?  It’s the Money Stupid, Or Does Florida Care More about Kids than California?

Returning to California, I am reminded how effed up school funding is here.  Even with the welcome addition of more resources and more targeted funding, CA has a long way to go.   Stick with me as I show you the relative Nirvana of NY school funding, and then I am going to practically show you that CA can do the same.  And that we need to do better than Florida.

Let’s review the adjusted education funding data from Edweek, California was 41st overall, paying approximately $8,339 per student in 2013.  In NY, the per-pupil was $17,548.  And even more importantly, in NY the reimbursement for the most challenging students was sufficient to meet their needs.

“What you talking about Willis?” that little voice in your head just said if you work in CA.  But yes, there is a multiplier for high need kids, and it’s not a few hundred dollars, its tens of thousands.

Right now NYC schools get an extra $23,000 on top of the per-pupil for high needs special education students—so $40,000 or so.  A charter serving high needs autistic students negotiated a per-pupil of over $90,000 per child— yes you read that right — $90,000.   And the reimbursements/supports are similar for District schools—charters get less than district schools overall in fact.

In California, in my experience, you mostly absorb the costs of the highest needs kids at the school site, technically you should get some more support, but often those supports are stretched and schools themselves hire more specialized teachers and aides out of their own budgets.  And the highest needs schools bear the greatest costs with relatively fewer resources.  This is crazy and creates all the wrong incentives.

And it is not that NY is that much richer, it’s that they invest more resources in schools.  Again from Edweek, CA puts 2.6% of its total taxable resources into education, NY puts in 4.2.

For the Creator’s sake: Florida and Mississippi put in higher percentages than we do, Florida…George Zimmerman, where you call 911 cuz your cat couldn’t get into the strip club, dudes shooting their junk off trying to take obscene selfies, herpes riddled monkeys, seriously,… Florida?

And I know that education actually is a giant slice of the CA budget pie at over 40%, but the pie is too small and Proposition 13 is the major culprit.  There, CA voters capped the taxes for all property.

Structurally we need to revise Prop 13, keeping the cap for homeowners who need it, but largely removing it from commercial property and McMansions. If you want to look at the advocacy efforts please join Closetheloophole, or some of the other Proposition 13 reform advocacy groups.

Money, well spent, matters.  And unless we increase spending in California, we will face an even greater crisis.  There is a looming teacher crisis, that will compound our current one, and unless we address the compensation, training and working conditions of staff, it won’t matter what fancy plans, improvements or reforms we try to implement.  There wont be any qualified staff to do the work.

Schools are human institutions and we need to make them more humane and sustainable places to work for staff, and that will take more resources, and a rebalancing of our priorities.  So please vote for funding reform, support the organizations pushing for it, and get active.  We can’t do more with less endlessly in California, and students will eventually pay the price—even more than they are now.

And come on, Florida invests more in their kids than we do.

Florida?  Take a look at some of these headlines and tell me we can’t do better, there are literally hundreds of these.

  1. Accused Florida man says his cat downloaded child porn, not him.
    2.Florida man calls 911 80 times to demand Kool-Aid, hamburgers, and weed
    3. Man says cocaine in his buttocks isn’t his
    4. Man stabbed in confusion over harmonicas
    5. Drunk woman calls 911 to say she was lost in woods, did not know where to urinate
    6. Trapper trying to catch elusive loose monkey gets death threats
    7. Sex-doll threesome man gets off
    8. Florida man has sex with pit bull in his yard as neighbors beg him to stop
What do you think?

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