"Maybe 50th in the nation in education funding is the best we can do? Anyhow, I’ve heard rankings in the low 30’s and high 40’s elsewhere."

A:

Education Week is highly respected because it takes regional cost of living into account and rates all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.  So it can’t fudge the numbers. 

Another well-respected analysis comes from the National Education Association.  It does not take cost of living into account, however also compares all states and DC.  It also rates lots of different spending areas, not just education.   So, California’s rankings are higher than the actual experience on the ground, but the comparisons are interesting.  (See below.)

National Education Association Analysis:

The National Education Association rankings do not adjust for regional cost differences.  In its most recent “Rankings & Estimates” March 2014, the NEA shows:

  • California has the largest classrooms in the nation – 25 students per teacher, compared to a national average of 15.4.  The next closest is Utah, at 20.
  • California ranked 40th in the nation for expenditure per student ADA in 2011-12 (unadjusted for regional cost differences), down from 37th in 2010-11 and dropping to 42nd in 2012-13 (est.).
  • California ranked 12th for State & Local Tax Revenue per capita - $4,914 (vs. $4,295 national average). 
  • Thus one would expect us to rank around 12th in spending for each budget category.  Moving away from 12th implies investment (or disinvestment) in a given area.
  • Comparing California’s relative tax revenues vs. its investment in education vs. its investment in other budget areas shows:
  • (State & Local per capita: national rank and comparison to national average)
  • 3rd for Corrections [Prisons] - $361 (vs. $235)
  • 7th for Police and Fire - $577 (vs. $445)
  • 8th for Debt Interest - $510 (vs. $397)
  • 12th for Public Welfare - $1,795 (vs. $1,579)
  • 14th for Health/Hospitals - $880 (vs. $740)
  • 18th for Capital Outlay (Infrastructure) - $1,142 (vs. $1,078)
  • 31st for all Education (Higher + K12) – $2,712  (vs. $2,764)
  • 44th for Highways - $391 (vs. $491)
  • We have been:
    • investing extra in Corrections, Police, Fire, Debt Interest and Public Welfare;
    • holding steady in Public Welfare and Health/Hospitals;
    • disinvesting in Highways, Education, and (to a lesser extent) Infrastructure;
    • and all this despite our commitment in Section 8 of Article XVI of the Constitution that, “From all state revenues there shall first be set apart the monies to be applied by the state for support of the public school system and public institutions of higher education".

SHAMEFUL, California. Start by sending a message to Sacramento this November that this is NOT ok.  

Vote NO on Prop 2, for children and public education. No on 2 for a better future for California. When we vote to show we care about kids, we vote to show we care about our future.

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