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Does California adequately fund education?

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, September 5th, 2011 at 5:55 pm in California, Contra Costa County, Education.

Our Contra Costa Times readers’ forum question this week was: “Do you think California is adequately funding education?”

Unfortunately we were only able to fit six responses into our print edition, which were from West Contra Costa County and Dublin. Here are a few more responses from Central, East and West Contra Costa County readers, which I’m posting below, in case blog readers would like to add to the dialogue:

“Invest in future
California is not adequately funding education. Education is the engine of innovation, opportunity, and raising the tide for all boats. Growing the economy, maintaining public health, reducing crime, and pursuing the American dream all require increased investment in public education.

The motto of the University of California is: ‘Let there be light.’ I was fortunate to be a UC undergraduate at a time when I and everyone I knew there believed that it represented the pursuit of excellence.

I also believe that it is in the interest of all of us for the best and the brightest to go into teaching. No aspiration is worthier than excellence in education, and no segment of society is more important than educators. So educators should be among the most highly paid.

The University of California was a major factor in making California one of the biggest economies in the world. Investing much more in all levels of education in California is the best way to grow our way out of our current economic doldrums. Let’s do it!
Diddo Clark
Lafayette

Wasted money
President Jimmy Carter did not mince his words in 1980 by asking Americans to live with their means and lost the election to Ronald Reagan.

Reagan went on a massive military spending spree, and we have not recovered from that mindset 30 years later.

Why, when the entire nation is suffering from cutbacks in services and education, are we still spending such enormous treasures on defense and senseless wars?

Our country is bleeding from the wounds of war and military spending — $7 trillion in the last 10 years alone! We can’t afford this anymore.

The Joint Strike Fighter is an example of military spending gone wild. Each plane costs $144 million (maintenance aside) and we’re planning to acquire 2,500 of these.

I say reduce the number of these preposterously expensive war machines by half and fund colleges in the U.S. to the tune of $170 billion over the next 10 years. Now that would be money well spent.
Ismail Mahomed
San Ramon

Get rid of babble
California’s funding of education would probably be adequate if we could rid the system of sociological psychobabble indoctrination.

Public education should be based on an objective curriculum using teachers who do not use their position of power as a conduit for their social; agendas.

The nonacademic values that should be taught are responsibility, accountability, patriotism, self-reliance and honest economics, not the crony capitalism that politicians love.
Edward Zawatson
Concord

Cutbacks hurt
Having spent nine years in California’s public school system and now attending a private high school, I can see the difference that lack of funding creates.

Nine years ago, before California was in a debt crisis and when I was in kindergarten, the public schools in California (specifically my hometown, Brentwood) were absolutely outstanding.

I was able to take advantage of art, music, and computer programs, which were available at my elementary school on a weekly basis and were each taught by a different instructor for all six years that I attended.

Now there is no art or computer teacher and these programs are in the hands of the classroom teacher. While the music program remains intact, it is available only to fourth and fifth graders.

Evidently, there is a substantial difference between public elementary schools now compared to when I was an elementary school student.

Still with these cutbacks, I have had the privilege of being taught by many wonderful people in the past nine years. Though teachers have been subjected to many pay cuts, they have provided quality education to California’s students.
Adriana Ghiozzi
Brentwood

Underfunded
When I went into teaching as a second career, I knew what the real work hours were; my ex-wife was a teacher during the 14 years we were married.

Between 2005 and today, my average class size has increased over 45 percent. While my paid work hours and salary have not changed much, my unpaid hours have dramatically increased. All of this is due to the underfunding of education.

This is not an increase in efficiency, but rather a large decrease in actual education. With larger class sizes, I have less time to individually help students who need it. Classroom management time has increased, and education time has decreased in each period.

Some students might not act up with 27 students in the class but will with 40. We need to reduce class sizes with more teachers.

We, as a society, cannot afford to not spend more on students. Employment in California is dependent on an adequately educated workforce.

Outside of districts such as San Ramon and Acalanes, which can get more funding from parents, public education is generally not creating the next generation workforce. This will cost all of us in the future far more than any tax increase.
Arthur Pruyn
Pittsburg

Fully fund
No. We have less per pupil spending then the majority of states. Public education is not a form of welfare, as some think.

Privatization is not the answer. Fully funded and supported public institutions create a sense of common purpose and hope for all economic brackets.

Tax rates should be returned to previous levels to pay for social stability. We should live up to our Christian nation hype and be our ‘brothers’ keeper.’
Wendy Brubaker
Richmond”

Do you think the state funds education adequately?

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  • 4Students

    California school funding is stuck in neutral. Sacramento talks about “fairness in funding” but it doesn’t happen. The 2000 “fairness in funding” bill passed the legislature but was vetoed by Governor Davis, shame on him. Then Sacramento talks about decentralization and local control. At the district level, we need a parcel tax, not another bond! Like Acalanes and San Ramon districts, MDUSD needs to build good communications, transparency, accountability and public trust to pass a parcel tax. But MDUSD is stuck in neutral.

  • Just J

    What is the per pupil average spening in California vs. some higher performing states?

  • Doctor J

    @Just J, here is a boatload of infomation. If you can’t find what you are looking for here, perhaps you might try the US Dept of Education website. http://www.census.gov/govs/school/

  • Just J

    Thanks Dr. J!

    I am pretty new to all of this education stuff. I really didn’t pay close attention in previous years so I ask a lot of questions to learn.
    I have read a ton of information and different articles regarding spending in education. I have compared different states. It seems that there is no hard data that says per pupil spending = a better education. Some states have the highest spending and have the lowest graduation rates and test scores while others spend very little and have the opposite. I am not sure you can say that California needs more education spending or if we need to adjust how we are spending what we have. I often wonder if it is more money needed or if we need to spend more wise? It seems that more of the adults are getting higher pay and benefits and the class rooms are getting less and less. I am not sure the answer is more money because the adults in the game will just pay themselvs more.

    Hope that all made sense.

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    4Students,
    You are dead on! Nice to have you blogging. When will the leadership in this District understand that the community will not support their efforts without a huge shift in the type of leadership running this District? You are absolutely right about communication, transparency, accountability, and ultimately public trust. Communication and transparency doesn’t just mean a public meeting full of double talk or a sporadic Superintendent memo. It means collaborating with the community, listening to the needs of the students and teachers, honesty when it comes to bonds, solar projects, etc…
    Here is what I want to say to our BOE: Don’t tell us what you think will manipulate us into your way of thinking, speak to us honestly. Don’t ignore our pleas to change things at a school site and then only react when it has gotten so bad you have no choice! When you say you want replace our Superintendent with someone who is a leader, a communicator, a uniter, an innovator, etc… Then do that. When you start acting like leaders, we will follow you. When you start acting like leaders we will believe you when you say “Putting Students First”. For now we have no choice but to be a thorn in your side, too much depends on it.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Just J: I have just belatedly posted a blog item that compares 2009-10 per student spending in East Bay schools to 2010 API scores: http://bit.ly/pLuyYb
    I started this blog piece in June, when we published the California Watch report. I had intended to include comments from superintendents, which is why I hadn’t posted it previously.
    Unfortunately, I got sidetracked and didn’t finish editing the comments. However, based on your question, I’ve decided to post the initial analysis now and can hopefully do a second blog post with the superintendent comments (time permitting).

  • Doctor J

    I still have not seen the SIG Corrective Action Plan that was due on Sept 12 and its not posted on the State site. Could it be that Cooksey, Rolen, Lawrence and the Board were so busy concocting onerous conditions to oppose the CVCHS that they missed a $15 million deadline ? Wait until you hear about the district’s failure to order textbooks on time and from the correct vendor — that mistake cost about $175,000. Theresa, remember old Sen. Wm. Proxmire and his “Golden Fleece” awards for abusive government spending — can’t we get CCT to sponsor the Mt. Diablo Golden Fleece awards ? You could set up a public vote on the most agregious spending by the District. BTW, do you think the district has already spent more than $100,000 opposing the CVCHS charter ? I wonder how much the district consultants themselves cost let alone the lost billable hours of Cooksey and Rolen.

  • Number Eight

    When will the district prove that the board president is not lying to the TV news media about the $1.7 million. Do that by giving Theresa the cost breakdown for CVHS, cuz CVHS costs and revenues should be a wash. Or else the district has been shorting CVHS for years. The district’s only loss from the CVHS charter is paying all these expensive attorneys to save the empire. What a waste! Golden Fleece indeed!

  • Milan Moravec

    UC Berkeley steals from our children and their families. Current pay increases for generously paid University of California Faculty is arrogance. Instate tuition consumes 14% of Ca. Median Family Income!
    UC Berkeley (ranked # 70 Forbes) tuition increases exceed the national average rate of increases. Chancellor Birgeneau has molded Cal. into the most expensive public university.
    University of California President Yudof and Chancellor Birgeneau($450,000 salary) have dismissed many much needed cost-cutting options. They did not consider freezing vacant faculty positions, increasing class size, requiring faculty to teach more classes, doubling the time between sabbaticals, cutting and freezing pay and benefits for all chancellors and reforming the pension system.
    They said such faculty reforms “would not be healthy for University of California”. Exodus of faculty and administrators? Who can afford them and where would they go?
    We agree it is far from the ideal situation, but it is in the best interests of the university system and the state to hold the line on cost increases. UC cannot expect to do business as usual: raising tuition; granting pay raises and huge bonuses during a weak economy that has sapped state revenues and individual Californians’ income.
    There is no question the necessary realignments with economic reality are painful. Regent Chairwoman Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances that salaries and costs reflect California’s economic reality. The sky above UC will not fall

    Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu