Adults sure are scarce in CA schools

teacher at Knightsen Elementary. File photo by Sherry LeVars/Bay Area News Group

Take a look at this June 2010 report by the California Budget Project. If you only have a minute, I suggest you zero in on Table 1.

The report ranks California 44th of 50 states in K-12 spending in 2009-10 — $8,826 per student, compared to $11,372 in the rest of the United States. And it found California schools had way fewer administrators, teachers, guidance counselors and librarians per student in 2007-08 than the national average.

There are 809 students for each guidance counselor in California, compared to 440 elsewhere in the United States; 21.3 students per teacher, compared to the national average of 13.8; and 358 students for each administrator, compared to 216.

I stared at the librarian statistic for a second to make sure I was reading it right: 5,038 kids for each librarian in California, compared to 809 in the rest of the country.

I wonder what those ratios are today; the figures in the report are mostly from 2007-08, before the recession hit, before the bulk of the state budget cuts.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • amhale

    I read somewhere that in CA the standard ratio for counselors to students is 1/900 — which is just absurd. With those kinds of numbers, no real counseling goes on — it is just printing our schedules and putting out fires. When everyone talks about how bad teachers are the problem, does anyone look at the impact of having inadequate administrative staff? When there aren’t enough administrators (or enough good administrators) then teachers don’t feel supported and they leave — I think that happened at my daughters’ middle school.

    I assume the librarian figure doesn’t take into account librarians who are paid by PTAs. Why have we decided that school librarians are a luxury only available to those who could afford it? Again, does anyone factor that in when looking at why schools do or don’t succeed?

  • Chauncey

    …and still school administration, borad members and such can overspend, misspend, and ” grease palms” as a Board member implied.

    More money means more pork fat and grease, and this my friends is a health risk. Us Black folks know all too well!

  • J.R.

    Don’t believe what you see,hear or experience, huge amounts of tax money are not wasted, and graft,corruption,laziness and incompetence do not exist in the education sector, and all but a minimal amount of money reaches the children in the classroom. As a matter of fact we need to tax people more, because these educrats are way underpaid, didn’t you know that?

    sarcasm off

  • Peter

    “After 1977-78, California’s K-12 Schools Received a Larger Share of Funds From the State and a Smaller Share From Local Property Tax Revenues.” See figures 5 and 6 in the linked CBP report. This illustrates the unintended consequences of Serrano v Priest. Other states may be more generous with their schools, though note that there is much more local control of the budget in many other states.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Faced with clear evidence of how terribly underfunded California schools are (44th out of 50 in the richest, most expensive state in the union), both J.R. and Chauncey mindlessly restate their talking points that the money is all being misspent.

  • Steven Weinberg

    I agree completely with Cranky. California school funding must be increased, but there are also changes we could make that would allow for wiser expenditures of whatever money schools have. Often schools are forced to spend funds by a deadline (often April 30) or lose them completely. Most funds that are unused cannot be carried over into the new year. In the press to spend money before the deadline, bad decisions can be made.
    I was in charge of placing orders for my school for several years before my retirement, and I know we made several expensive errors. For example, on two occasions we bought expensive supplementary materials for teachers who ended up leaving us during the summer, and no other teachers have been interested in using them. (Schools are always short of money in September, so it is hard to wait to buy materials until you know exactly what you will need.) We have bought computer equipment that we probably would not have purchased if we had taken more time to investigate the alternatives. We have spent funds on a consultant when we would have rather saved the money for the next year to be able to afford another employee, but the deadline would not allow this.
    When we have had funds that allowed for carry-over, such as the High Priority School Grant (HPSG) and the Quality Education Investment Act grant (QEIA), we were able to use our money more effectively. Eliminating the use-it or lose-it rule for school funds would reduce waste.