By John Fensterwald
A termed-out state senator who’s been a leader on education issues offered advice Wednesday to Gov. Jerry Brown on how to get the Legislature to pass significant school finance reform: Don’t try to jam lawmakers; ally yourself with a respected legislator who’s got more than a couple years left to serve; and implement the reforms gradually, for more buy-in from 1,000 districts that will be asking, “What’s in it for me?”
“Come back through policy process and seek someone (from the Legislature) with a runway in front of them, who can make a commitment over a period of time. That’s a better path to success,” Sen. Joe Simitian, a Democrat from Palo Alto, said at during a panel discussion in Sacramento sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California. Joining him were the architect of Brown’s weighted student formula, State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, and Catherine Lhamon, an advocate for disadvantaged children as director of impact litigation for the Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles. Like Simitian, Lhamon praised Brown’s “courage” in proposing an “excellent concept” but also sharply criticized the governor’s proposal for failing to demand that districts show how they’d spend extra dollars on disadvantaged children. She and Kirst also disagreed Wednesday on this point.
via What next for Brown’s school finance reform? – by John Fensterwald.
Given more control over how they could spend state money, school districts not surprisingly chose survival over experimentation. And if legislators want otherwise – to encourage districts to innovate or target money on low-achieving students – then they should be more explicit about their intentions.
That was the main finding and chief recommendation of a study of districts’ flexible spending last year by the RAND Corporation and researchers with the University of California. The results are consistent with annual surveys by the Legislative Analyst’s Office the past two years.
The study – also a survey, of chief financial officers in 223 districts – diagnosed how districts spent their share of $4.5 billion in previously earmarked spending. That encompassed 40 of 60 categorical programs and slightly less than a quarter of the $19 billion in total restricted spending that the Legislature made flexible in 2009.
via First, keep the lights on – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
At budgeting time, when legislators and the governor decide how much state support each public school pupil should get, it’s pretty clear that some children are more equal than others, as the late “Animal Farm” author George Orwell might have put it.
As things now stand, school districts will start out getting a base grant of $4,920 for every child they register during the next school year. Then there are extras, with the single largest category both in terms of money provided and numbers of kids involved being pupils designated as English learners.
If you have a child who speaks little or no English, his or her school will get at least an additional 8 percent from the state on top of the basic grant.
But if you’ve got an extra-bright kid there’s absolutely no state requirement that your local school district put any money into gifted and talented education programs tailored for that child. So when parents lack the funds to send children to a private or parochial school, the brightest pupils can be out of luck when it comes to the stimulation often needed to hold their attention and facilitate further progress.
State should alter weighted school finance plan.
John Fensterwald co-authored this article.
The Legislature’s budget package is missing many of Gov. Brown’s controversial education initiatives. A joint Senate and Assembly plan outlined yesterday protects transitional kindergarten, the science mandate, and the AVID program, rejects the weighted student funding formula, and offers districts a choice in how they’re paid for state mandates.
“This budget protects and invests in public education this year, and increases Proposition 98 funding by $17 billion over the next four years,” said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez during a press conference Wednesday morning with Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
The overall budget plan that lawmakers will vote on this Friday would erase California’s $20 billion structural deficit, balance the budget for each of the next three years, and create a $2 billion reserve by fiscal year 2015-16, according to Pérez and Steinberg.
Spending for K-12 education would be $53.6 billion for the 2012-13 fiscal year. That’s about $1 billion more than the governor had anticipated. Because the budget assumes more revenue for education through the passage of Brown’s tax initiative in November, the state is obligated under Proposition 98 to start paying off the “maintenance factor,” the IOUs given to schools during bad times. But if the tax increase fails, the Legislature and governor are in accord on the need for cuts of $5.5 billion for K-12 schools and community colleges. That would translate to a K-12 cut of $450 per student.
via Leg erases Gov’s ed reforms – by Kathryn Baron.
California’s 6 million-student public school system is not only the largest chunk of the state budget that will be enacted this week – by far – but the major component of Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign for sales and income tax increases as well.
And if that isn’t yeasty enough, the governor is also proposing huge changes in the way state school money is calculated and disbursed.
What emerges from all of this is impossible, even for political insiders, to predict.
If all goes as Brown plans, his aides say, California schools will see an average 47 percent increase in financing over the rest of his governorship, assuming it lasts another term.
via Dan Walters: California school aid at center of wrangle over tax measures.
Under the current K-12 public education system in California, programs that are not required, measured, or explicitly funded by the state will disappear from our schools. Elective courses are becoming victims of educational policy that only recognizes “success” as defined by scores on standardized tests in courses mandated for graduation or college admission. Since that’s all that is really measured, that’s all that will really matter.
The ongoing state budget deficit and the lack of financial incentives to support programs outside of the mandated core academics will undoubtedly force districts to abandon such electives with impunity. This is our concern with the “Weighted Student Formula” (WSF) proposal. Because the latest version of education finance reform doesn’t alter the current approach to accountability, we fear WSF will accelerate an already alarming narrowing of the curriculum.
via Finance reform without accountability could devastate career tech – by Jack Stewart.
The state Department of Finance has released the district allocations under Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised plan for weighted student funding that shaves off the peaks, fills in the valleys, and includes other changes that make allotments flatter, arguably fairer, and potentially more politically palatable to those who criticized aspects of the formula.
The 77-page spreadsheet of district and charter school allocations doesn’t reveal – and inquiring minds will want to know – how districts compare with one another and with a statewide average once the formula is fully funded in 2018-19. But the raw numbers are there to calculate percentage increases and per-student spending, and Nick Schweizer, the program budget manager for education in the Department of Finance, did provide me with a district average increase, along with some cautions.
via Figuring out your district’s weighted funding – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
In May 2012, Governor Brown revised his proposal for a new way to allocate revenue to California’s school districts. This report uses the PPIC School Finance Model to asses this revision. It finds that the proposed changes would lead to less funding for disadvantaged students and reduce the differences in funding gains among districts.
This research was supported with funding from The Silver Giving Foundation and the Stuart Foundation.
via PUBLICATION: Funding Formulas for California Schools IV: An Analysis of Governor Brown’s Weighted Pupil Funding Formula, May Budget Revision.
When Gov. Jerry Brown called the state budget “a pretzel palace of incredible complexity” last week, he was stating, in his inimitable way, the obvious.
During Brown’s governorship three decades ago, the budget was a relatively simple and understandable document. Revenue was relatively easy to calculate and spending obligations were clearly delineated. But today’s budget is complex almost beyond comprehension, and Brown wants to make it more so.
via Dan Walters: Incredible complexity of school finance hits home.
Responding to criticisms of his plan for school finance reform, Gov. Jerry Brown has significantly revised his weighted student formula, raising the base amount that all districts will receive, reducing the differences between district “winners” and “losers” by reducing extra money for disadvantaged students, assuring districts they will be repaid for past budget cuts, and adding contingencies in case optimistic revenue projects come up short.
State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, who four years ago co-developed a weighted student formula on which this proposal is based, said the administration incorporated most of the suggestions that it received. “I think this is a much better proposal and the one to frame the debate rather than the initial plan with flaws and omissions,” Kirst said.
via Big changes to weighted formula – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
The State Board of Education on Wednesday waded into what’s expected to be a yearlong process of revising the state’s standardized-test-heavy school accountability system. First up: discussing whether to reshape an existing tool, the School Accountability Report Card, or SARC, an annual data dump that every school collects and is supposed to post online, and whether to consider adding a new dimension – school inspections.
via First pass at school inspections – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
With the cancellation of today’s joint hearing with the Senate and Assembly Education Committees, the Brown administration has dodged – for now – tough questioning on the governor’s plan for a weighted student formula.
Today’s session would have been the first formal look by the two key education policy committees at the sweeping school finance proposals that Brown announced in his budget in January.
via Weighted formula in waiting – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
By Dan Walters
Thousands of California teachers were given layoff notices a few weeks ago because state law requires the slips to be sent out each spring if administrators and trustees believe cuts are needed to balance their budgets.
Later this month, the districts must decide whether to continue or rescind those layoffs on the assumption that by then they’ll know the state of their 2012-13 finances.
via Dan Walters: California’s school finance system is both convoluted and irrational.
In January 2012, Governor Brown proposed a new system for allocating funds among school districts. Using the PPIC School Finance Model, this paper compares this proposal with the status quo. This comparison highlights the governor’s priorities—in particular, providing substantially greater resources to districts with high percentages of disadvantaged students.
via PUBLICATION: Funding Formulas for California Schools III: An Analysis of Governor Brown’s Weighted Pupil Funding Formula.
To mitigate the impact of substantially cutting spending for K-12 schools, the Legislature agreed to temporarily let school districts decide how to spend money that had been earmarked for dozens of special programs, from adult education to teacher training. Now, as part of his plan to reform how education is funded, Gov. Brown is proposing to go a big step further and give local districts total and permanent flexibility over nearly all of the remaining categorical programs. He also wants to drop two dozen mandated programs, leaving districts the option of continuing to fund them without state reimbursement. Is spending flexibility over billions of dollars, ending state control over what the Legislature deemed important priorities, wise policy? Can districts be trusted to do right by children? And suppose they don’t – what then?
To explore this issue, we asked four leaders with different perspectives: Jill Wynns, president of the California School Boards Association; John Affeldt, managing partner of the nonprofit law firm Public Advocates; Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators; and Erin Gabel, Director of Government Affairs for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. What do you think? Please share your views.
via Should districts be handed full control over spending? – by forum.
California voters give Gov. Jerry Brown low marks overall for the way he has handled K-12 education. But, at the same time, they support some school reforms that he’s championing, including directing much of new revenue to poor students, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll.
via Low marks for Brown not his ideas – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t taken the Education Coalition’s “no” as a final answer on a weighted student funding plan.
In the last two weeks, Brown administration officials have been telling districts and civil rights groups that he remains determined to reform how schools are financed. However, Brown also is open to changing the formula to respond to some of the objections to his initial proposal, Sue Burr, executive director of the State Board of Education and the governor’s key education adviser, said this week.
via Brown wants financing reform – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
This year may finally be the time to get a major overhaul in education – simpler, fairer, more flexible and accountable.
via Editorial: State leaders must meld on K-12 standards.
English language learners currently get about 8 percent per student in extra funding, says the Legislative Analyst’s Office. That amount would more than quadruple in six years, to 37 percent, if the Legislature adopts Gov. Brown’s weighted student formula, phasing in substantially more money for every poor student and each English learner.
via Dilemma over English learners – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
Legislative Analyst’s Office: Recent K-12 Education Publications, Handouts and Budget Recommendations
via The Weighted Student Funding Formula and English Learner Students.