Ride for a Reason: Bike for school dollars + Jerry Brown’s plan to fund locally

For those of you who fought for more school funding and are resting easy after the passage of Prop 30: You might be planning a backyard barbecue or some spring cleaning this weekend but not the annual Ride for a Reason bike to Sacramento, whose organizers would like to remind you that it’s not over ’til it’s over. The group takes off from Oakland Saturday at sunrise to advocate for additional state funding and to raise money for enrichment programs in four North Oakland schools: Claremont Middle, Oakland Technical High, Emerson Elementary, and Oakland International High.

More money? Yes, say the riders, in order for California to get to the national average in state funding per student. California would need three times the revenue expected under Prop 30  to reach the national average, according to the California Budget Project. Ride for a Reason didn’t mention Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula.

CBP just  released its analysis of the proposal, which changes the way school districts are funded by giving districts with low-income and ESL K-12 pupils extra money.

Our regional education reporter Theresa Harrington wrote about it here in February and will have an update story soon. It’s too early to apply specifics to OUSD because state lawmakers are still dueling, armed with separate bills. My take is that they fear even the hint of losing money for their district (which is not what the local formula does) or letting another district get a cent more then theirs.

Brown’s proposal is weak on oversight and accountability for local school boards who would be in charge of spending the  extra money on the low-income and English learning students based on “what makes most sense” based on local needs, Steven Bliss of the CBP said during a call-in this morning. His organization favors the proposal but conceded there are “issues and problems with the accountability piece.” The he local school board comes up with an accountability plan spelling out how the money would be used to address specific issues. The plan gets vetted before board members vote to adopt along with the district budget. The budget and local funding formula align are supposed to align. In the case of OUSD, the Alameda County Board of Education would decide whether they do. But the governor’s proposal does not specific what to do if they do not align and doesn’t go far enough to make sure local school boards are doing a good job prioritizing and spending.

The second catch is the money. Where is the additional $15 million going to come from? Theresa’s story will explain the short-term answer. But as far as the long term answer, the proposal depends on economic growth. The Ride for a Reason cyclists might be pedaling to Sacramento for a few more years before the plan is fully funded.

As for Saturday: Most riders will depart Oakland near sunrise and arrive in Sacramento in the afternoon for a 4:30 p.m. rally on the north steps of the Capitol building. State Superintendent of Education, Tom Torlakson, is the featured speaker.



  • Nontcair

    California [needs] to get to the national average in state funding per student.

    What is this so-called “national average”? Is this some magic number sent down from on-high? Like 3.14, 2.719, 4.67, and so forth?

    WTH has calcualated this number? A teacher? A CPA? Joe Biden?

    Why does this number even matter? Isn’t it possible that those other states are OVER-spending and that they should therefore REGRESS to a figure closer to what CA allegedly spends per student?

    Isn’t also possible that CA itself is way overspending? Maybe the national average, per-pupil should be closer to that of say, Angola?

    One more thing: the public education spending numbers we often hear thrown around are always politically motivated, LOWBALL figures. When one takes into account capital projects, pensions, interest, etc, the true figures are a LOT higher. Ballpark, per-pupil spending works out to $15,000 per kid.

    About 50% of the state budget goes to K-16. That money doesn’t come for free. It takes an army of tax collectors to extract it. Some large percentage of government employees — including cops, judges, assorted bureaucrats who impose fines for regulatory violations, etc — are basically just “working” as revenuers. A private sector style (real world) cost accounting would allocate about half of their total compensation (expense) towards public education spending.

    And don’t forget that retailers are *deputized* (drafted) as (sales) tax collectors, a service for which they are definitely NOT compensated.

    How much would *you* charge a client in fees for the service of collecting money for him — without even considering the risk of severe criminal penalties you’d face for screwing up? 2%? 10%? If we “split the difference” and impute that CA should be paying retailers a 5% “commission”, what CA typically publishes as $25B in (“costless”) sales tax revenues should have triggered an expense entry of $1.25B — net +$600M where public education spending is concerned.

    Just by using honest accounting, public education spending rises another 10% AT LEAST.

    So give me a break.

  • J.R.

    You are forgetting an important reason for out of control political taxation and spending, statistically a large portion of politicians are lawyers who don’t really make or create wealth but instead take it from someone else who works for a living. Politicians exist for their own benefit(except in rare cases)and it is yet another opportunity to feather their own nests. Feathering your own nest is a good thing(if and when)a person puts in the hard work that is worthy of such remuneration.

  • Nontcair

    Since you brought them up, lawyers are just one of the MANY special interest groups which profit handsomely ($$$) off public education.

    The “education code” was written by the lawyers, FOR the lawyers.

    I hadn’t thought about it a minute ago, but do search for “education attorney”. Here’s one example: Hiring an attorney for $2,000-$10,000 is a good investment and a necessary expense when dealing with a school district .. that is not providing adequate/appropriate services for your child. (NOTE: 9 out of 10 parents in TACA are at odds with their school district..)

  • Nontcair

    While they’re in office the politicians *relentlessly* make government BIGGER and its ways more inscrutable.

    For example, with each public education mandate (like Title #847 §31 -24.2(c)) which they establish, the government has to hire an *army* of education bureaucrats (friends) to first codify a 10,000 page code and then to implement/oversee it.

    What it all verbiage means is a mystery. That is, to *most* of us.

    Those same politicians later (when they’re finally term-limited out) sell their services as “fixers” who know the right people to call upon to get dispensations.

    The bureaucrats who were first hired (see above) to implement the regulations eventually become Title #847 “consultants” (you know, to assist local school districts in their efforts to get into compliance).

    Original staff lawyers become #847 Attorneys, who:

    bill school districts at $900/hr for the service of reviewing their policies to ensure their legality or,

    charge $10,000 retainers from private parties in order to SUE districts that are not in compliance (nearly *all* of them).

  • http://www.facebook.com/BridgetheChasm Charlie at Bridge the Chasm


    WOW. Great stuff.

  • Nontcair

    From RfaR’s website: .. additional resources are needed after decades of [public ed] disinvestment. Emphasis added.

    Here we go again.

    Government spending (pork) is “investment”.
    Adjustment of priorities is “disinvestment”.

    My gosh! What would these leeches call a real spending cut?

    Government (taxpayer) spending on public education keeps getting bigger and BIGGER. Of course, as is the case with all government programs, the costs associated with public education have grown even faster, so in many districts pub ed expenditures on certain items have needed to be adjusted downward.

    Nevertheless, these complainers fail to notice that some other items have been adjusted UPWARD. For instance, the girls wrestling program is now being funded at *record* levels.

    RfaRs who are pissed about losing art classes maybe should focus their anger on the Judiciary which has ruled (tee-hee) that boys/girls school sports opportunities need to be equalized, although such outrage would be misplaced: girls contact sports are a form of performance art.

  • Nontcair

    RfaR is charted to spend the funds they’ve raised only on “enrichment programs” in a few OUSD schools. This is yet another example of special interests thwarting the democratic process.

    The *Legislature* is supposed to determine how funding is to be allocated. It’s fundmental to our system that such funding be distributed evenly.

    RfaR is *not* the Legislature. The money it raised last Saturday cannot be reformulated as some kind of special appropriation. If the pot is meant to go to a public institution then our system *requires* that it be placed in the State Treasury for the crooked politicians to decide how to distribute. According to *their* preferences.

    You know, like enrichment programs at *all* CA public schools, not just four of them.

    The *Legislature* is supposed to impose the broad-based taxes/fees necessary to pay for the costs of its programs. It’s fundamental to our system that such revenues not be subject to the tastes of a select few.

    RfaR is *not* the taxpaying public. It’s a special interest group. It shouldn’t be allowed to pay voluntarily for specific items that it supports. Then what it’s paying is not really a “tax”. It’s more like a 1% downpayment on a house, with the government carrying the mortgage.

    Let’s put this in a better light: Should General Dynamics being allowed to donate F-15s to the USAF for purpose of them be used to launch a rogue attack against some 3rd world country?

    We don’t want certain groups having undue influence over the Legislature. As the tax burden falls on fewer and fewer, the decision making power of the People itself falls along with it.

    This is not supposed to be an oligarchy.

    That the Legislature has voted to permit this sort of gross violation of a process that’s it’s constitutionally established to monopolize and carry out, well, what can I tell you?

    Once again we see a branch of government derelict of its duty.