Friday, August 25, 2006

School Budgets and Prop. 98

California Insider
A Weblog by 
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

AUGUST 25, 2006
CTA v. Schwarzenegger
Bill language is circulating in the Capitol to implement the terms of the legal settlement between the governor and the California Teachers Assn. over the funding the teachers claim the state illegally withheld from the schools in 2004 and 2005. The bill provides about $3 billion in new money for the schools through 2013-14.
The best thing about the settlement is that it tries to target all of the money to low-performing schools, those whose student test scores are in the bottom 20 percent of schools statewide. Most of those schools serve primarily poor and minority, mostly immigrant, children. The achievement gap between them and white and middle-class Asian-American kids is the biggest problem in education today.
The question is how the money should be spent, assuming it should be spent on those kids. As always, I favor maximum flexibility and decentralization. Having said that, I would have some concern about pouring all of this money into schools whose students are already failing, since we don't know whether that failure is due to the students themselves and their family backgrounds and living conditions, a shortage of resources, or the operation of the schools. Some guidance and/or extra accountability from Sacramento seems appropriate.
On the other hand, this bill requires those schools that get the money to reduce class size beyond the 20 to 1 ratio already common in kindergarten through third grade. For grades 4-12, schools would have to have an average of 25 students per class, or five fewer than they did in 2006-07, whichever is lower.
…Dan Weintraub
And, you may want to respond there.
See the entire piece at
http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/insider/
I post it here to draw your attention to the piece.
It is certainly a good idea that the money is targeted to where the problems are. The remainder of the argument needs examination.
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