October 7, 2013
The following article is re-posted with the permission of the California Budget Project. The article was posted to their website in October 2013.
California’s K-12 schools face a unique set of challenges. Not only does California educate more students than any other state, but economically disadvantaged students and English learners (ELs) account for a larger share of students in California than in the rest of the US. Yet, even though California has more financial resources per capita than the rest of the US, the state spends far less of its total personal income on K-12 schools. As a result, CaliforniaK-12 education spending continues to lag the nation by a number of key measures. Although Proposition 30, passed by California voters in November 2012, is expected to increase state revenues and boost school spending over the next few years, this revenue measure alone will not provide California schools with sufficient resources to meet the challenges of educating the state’s students.
While California’s current financial support for schools falls well short of the state’s capacity to invest in K-12 education, the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) – approved by the Governor and the Legislature earlier this year – is an important step toward aligning state education funding with student needs. The LCFF fundamentally restructures California’s education finance system and directs additional resources to disadvantaged students – specifically ELs, students from low-income families, and foster youth. How the state allocates education dollars is especially important in California, because its schools rely more heavily on state funding – and relatively less on local property taxes – than those in the rest of the US. This is largely due to the limits that Proposition 13 of 1978 imposed on the local property tax as well as policies enacted after Proposition 13 to help schools and local governments cope with the loss of local revenues. This School Finance Facts compares California’s student demographics, education funding, and school spending and staffing to that in the rest of the US, and shows why California will need to invest more to provide a high-quality education for all students.