Record spending for public schools in California


In summary

California schools will receive a massive cash injection under Governor Gavin Newsom’s newly revised budget, but will they spend it filling the “performance gap”?

During Governor Gavin Newsom’s 90-minute monologue on the virtues of his revised budget for 2021-22 this month, he bragged about an all-time high in public school spending.

State aid and local property taxes would bring spending per student to $ 14,000, and with federal funding it would top $ 20,000 for the first time. Additionally, Newsom’s budget would fuel its long-awaited goal of offering universal preschool programs and a new idea of ​​creating school centers for community service.

The massive injection of money into schools begs a sharp question: how are they going to spend it?

It’s a new take on a long-burning topic that focuses on what educators refer to as the “performance gap” – a large inequality in learning between poor and English-speaking students and their more privileged classmates that will almost certainly find themselves facing the closure of the Classroom has deteriorated.

Nearly a decade ago, former Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature gave extra money to schools with large numbers of underperforming students to fill the gap. However, he expressly refused to allow the state to monitor whether it was effective.

Since then, there has been a political and legal battle in which a “justice coalition” of civil rights and educational reform groups competes against the educational institution over the functioning of Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

One point of conflict was the “Local Control and Accountability Plans” (LCAPs), which are intended to determine the use of LCFF funds. Critics say they are often vague and full of dense educational language that makes them unusable.

After schools closed last year due to the pandemic, the legal mandate to write LCAPs was suspended. Instead, local schools should adopt Learning Continuity Plans (LCPs) as they temporarily switched to home teaching.

Last week, members of the Equity Coalition released a critical report of the LCPs’ ambiguity about “how they have invested money and resources to support California’s most underserved college students – which led us to wonder whether they are investing in that support at all.” to have”.

The criticism reflected the previous struggles over the LCAPs and set the stage for additional conflict over how schools will spend the new funding advertised by Newsom.

The coalition of stocks likes what Newsom has to say about using the new revenue to make a big push to bridge or close the performance gap.

“This is a golden opportunity to redefine our schools with transformative investments that ensure all students thrive,” Erin Apte, legal advisor to public attorneys, one of the authors of the new report, said in a statement.

The report from public advocates and like-minded groups includes recommendations to help local schools “meet their equity obligations to students and families, increase key stakeholder engagement, strengthen services and support for students with special needs, and increase transparency improve public education funding during and after this public health crisis. “

However, as we saw at the LCFF, and what happened or not during the classroom closings caused by the pandemic, local school officials will be under tremendous pressure to spend the extra money to sustain the status quo, such as spending a lot of money. B. Raising salaries instead of focusing on the performance gap.

The lingering question is whether Newsom, unlike Brown, is willing to hold schools accountable for effectively spending the money.

There is reason to doubt that given his close relationship with the educational institution, particularly the California Teachers Association, and his brown fondness for shifting tough decisions to local officials, he will often sing “local is dominant” on sensitive issues


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