“How Does California Compare? Funding California’s Public Schools,” written by Jean Ross, the Executive Director of the California Budget Project provides a wealth of data in four pages.
There is history here, tracing the decline of California’s funding of K-12 education to the time of Prop 13 in 1978.
Here are some of the findings based the latest data available (2005-2006) in this report which is documented and footnoted:
• During the 1970s, California’s school spending per student was close to, or even higher than, that of the US as a whole. Since 1981-82, California’s has consistently spent less per student than the US as a whole. During most of the 1990s, California lagged the nation in per student spending by more than $1,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
• California’s spending on schools, measured as a share of its personal income, has also lagged that of the US as a whole.
• We rank 34th out of the 50 states in our spending per Student 34 at $8,607 compared to the national average of $9,566.
• We rank 34th out of the 50 states in the percentage of our state’s income on K-12 education.
• We rank 48th in the number of K-12 students per teacher at 19.1 compared to 14.7 for the nation as a whole.
You’ll be happy to learn that we spent 95.3 cents of each education dollar on instruction and student services, while schools in the US as a whole spent 93.9 cents for these same services. This may be due to the fact that teacher salaries here are higher, on average,
$59,345 compared with $49, 109 in the nation as a whole for 2005-2006. Of course, from a cost of living standpoint, California is an expensive state.
This report also has interesting facts on where we get our educational funds. Read it and you’ll find out that since Prop 13, California schools get a greater share of their dollars from the state (61.4%) as opposed to local funds (27.3%). This not only marks a historical shift for us as a state, but it also stands in stark contrast to the country as a whole, where 47.7% of education dollars are from state sources and 43.2% are from local funds, primarily property taxes.
There are a lot of reasons for this, including the vote requirements to pass local bonds and tax increases and court decisions on the equalization of educational funding from district to district. All of these are touched upon in this report.
The graphs and charts are very interesting to see patterns over time of many of these comparisons.