California continues to lag behind in national comparisons of per pupil spending
California has been underfunding its schools, and shortchanging its students, for decades. In 2010-11, California fell to 49th among states on per-pupil spending. A recovering state economy and temporary tax increases have helped California schools regain ground after suffering steep cuts in past years. But California’s per-pupil ranking only rose to 42nd nationally in 2014-15 and per-pupil spending continues to trail behind the national average.
Low funding means districts struggle to hire qualified teachers and to keep classes small, two factors that contribute to student success. In fact, according to the most recent data, California ranks 48th in student-to-teacher ratios, with over one million more students than Texas but 42,000 fewer teachers.
School personnel like principals and vice principals, school nurses, counselors and librarians are also important in meeting kids’ needs. Despite evidence of the necessity of school staff, California ranks 45th or lower in every school staff category. In student-to-staff ratios, California ranks – 45th in principals or assistant principals, 49th in guidance counselors, and 50th in librarians. In order to meet the national average for staffing, the state would need to hire 237,000 more school personnel.
Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda
California must continue to increase funding for K-12 education so districts can provide every student with a high-quality education. With Proposition 30 revenues beginning to phase out, the state should put a funding solution in place so districts can provide all students with the opportunity to graduate from high school ready for college and the workforce.
While California is still well below the national average in education funding, an improving economy and Proposition 30 revenues, nonetheless, are helping schools recover from the deep cuts of the recession. Over the last two years, the state has increased Proposition 98 K-12 funding by $10.9 billion to a total of $59.5 billion. In addition, California has provided billions in one-time funds to repay state mandates and other one-time costs. The most recent budget almost returns K-12 funding to pre-recession levels (2007-08) when adjusted for costs of living. But even with the significant recent investments, the current funding is far from adequate given the state’s low per pupil spending. To keep our education promise to California kids, the State must significantly increase funding for our K-12 system.