New Studies Affirm PTA’s Concerns About School Funding

Piggy Bank

SACRAMENTO – A decade ago, a research project called “Getting Down to Facts” presented evidence that California needed to simplify its school funding system and provide schools with significantly more funds. During the years since, passage of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) accomplished the simplification. However, a substantial infusion of additional funding did not materialize. First, state leaders made dramatic cuts in education funding during the Great Recession and then, in the years since, they have consistently just met the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee.

On September 17, 2018, a decade after that first research project, 100 educational researchers released “Getting Down to Facts II.” This project examined the changes that have occurred in the state’s preK-12 education system over the past 10 years. The summary report says that the studies taken as a whole show that California is generally moving in the right direction, but needs to build capacity in order to support reforms implemented over the last decade. The 36 research studies and 19 briefs in the project cover a wealth of issues in four major categories that include student success, personnel, governance and policy implementation and school finance.

“The breadth and depth of the “Getting Down to Facts II” research is impressive,” said California State PTA President Dianna MacDonald. “The studies provide valuable information regarding many of the issues of greatest importance to our organization, including equity of opportunity for all students, the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula and the importance of early childhood education. Most notably, however, it provides evidence of how far California still has to go in order to adequately fund its schools.”

California State PTA has called for adequate funding for schools as an advocacy goal for years. Affirming that position, the research finds that schools need to be better funded if they are to meet the state’s goals for its 6 million students. In fact, one study estimates that funding for California schools would have to increase by about a third; that was $22 billion in 2016-17. Of equal concern, critical funding issues such as pensions, special education, and facilities have the potential to worsen inequities and destabilize the system if not addressed.

“With the November elections just around the corner, the timing of these studies is important,” said MacDonald. “Parents and community members can use the information to help them ask good questions of all candidates and to inform their voting not only for the Governor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction, but for their legislators and local school boards.”

Read the full set of studies and briefs for “Getting Down to Facts II” at http://www.gettingdowntofacts.com. EdSource has also published an overview that summarizes all the studies, available here.

About California State PTA:

California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public-education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information: www.capta.org.

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