This is what California public education looks like after the Great Recession:
Between 2007 and 2010, the number of teachers in the state's K-12 classrooms shrank by 11 percent. Reading specialists, librarians, and other school employees helping students learn declined by 14 percent. Front offices took the hardest blow, with the number of administrators dropping by 16 percent. All these cuts hit schools even as the total enrollment held steady at around 6.2 million students.
Now that California is looking at its first budget without a deficit in five years, Gov. Jerry Brown's budget calls for restoring some money to the state's public schools. But he does not want to distribute the money equally.
"Aristotle said, 'Treating unequals equally is not justice.' And people are in different situations. Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont," Brown said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
George Skelton, the Los Angeles Times columnist in Sacramento, blasted Brown ed spending plan on Monday. He says: "Robbing Peter in the suburbs to pay Paul in the inner city seems politically perilous. Even unjust."
Brown wants to give more money to schools serving poor students, English language learners and children in foster care.
There are already big differences in the sums school districts get from the state.
Consider two communities Brown mentioned, Piedmont and Richmond. In the 2010-11 school year, Piedmont received $12,287 for every student. The West Contra Costa Unified School District, which includes Richmond, received $9,735 per student.
But only $3,300 of Piedmont’s revenue came from the state. That’s about a third less than the average unified school district gets from Sacramento. West Contra Costa Unified School District received $5,600 per student from the state, which is more than the statewide average.
Here’s how Piedmont made up the difference and then some: The $9.1 million that Piedmont raised that school year in parcel taxes was 7,589 percent higher than the statewide average.
Brown’s spending plan has a $3 billion more than last year for K-12 and community colleges, will that be enough to bridge the funding gap that contributes to the achievement gap, and ultimately becomes a cycle-reinforcing income gap? Does more money improve student performance?
Martinez Unified Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ per student % of average for unified school districts State Aid $1,345 39% Local Sources $4,011 206% Federal Revenue $463 42% Other State Revenue $1,633 82% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $781 147% Total $8,233 91%
Mount Diablo Unified Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ per student % of average for unified school districts State Aid $2,434 71% Local Sources $2,859 147% Federal Revenue $1,037 93% Other State Revenue $2,283 114% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $412 78% Total $9,026 100%
Source: Department of Education, Ed-Data