An October 2011 report by the California Budget Project shows that California is near the bottom in school spending when compared to other states.
“A decade of disinvestment has left California’s spending for public schools lagging the nation by a number of measures,” it states. “The Proposition 98 guarantee, designed to ensure a minimum level of funding for California’s schools and community colleges, has not prevented significant cuts to the resources available to schools. Lawmakers have repeatedly cut state spending in recent years in response to the dramatic decline in revenues caused by the most severe economic downturn since the 1930s. As a result, 2010-11 estimated General Fund spending was lower as a share of the state’s economy than in 35 of the prior 40 years. Recent cuts have reversed longstanding policies and have left public systems and programs ill-equipped to cope with the ongoing impact of the Great Recession and the challenges of a growing population and an ever-more-competitive global economy.
California public schools, unlike those in many other states, receive a majority of their dollars from the state budget, and the largest share of state spending supports K-12 schools. As California cut spending for schools to help close perennial state budget shortfalls, the gap between California spending for education and that in the rest of the US widened. While federal dollars provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) helped schools fill budget gaps that resulted from state cuts to education spending, resources available to California schools dropped to historic lows relative to the rest of the US by the end of the decade. This School Finance Facts compares state and local spending on public schools in California with the rest of the US and shows that California’s education spending ranks near the bottom according to several measures.”
It shows that California ranks last in number of K-12 students per teacher (20.5 compared to then national average of 13.8) and last in number of students per librarian (5,489 compared to the national average of 839). The state is 49th in the number of K-12 students per guidance counselor (810 compared to the national average of 433) and 47th in K-12 spending as a percentage of personal income (3.27 percent compared to the national average of 4.29 percent).
California is 46th in both K-12 spending per student and number of K-12 students per administrator, according to the report. The state spends an average of $8,908 per student, compared to the national average of $11,764. It employs one administrator for every 301 students, compared to a ratio of one to 203 in the rest of the country.
You can see the full report at
In the Mt. Diablo school district, the number of students per teacher is much greater than even the state average. Most K-5 classes are about 30 students per teacher, while some middle and high school classes have around 37 students.
Do you think that more education spending would solve California’s problems in narrowing the achievement gap?