Statement of John Affeldt, Public Advocates Managing Attorney & Education Program Director on Publication of Getting Down to Facts II Studies regarding California Public Schools
We welcome this new research and the contributions it can make to productive policymaking in California as did the first round of Getting Down to Facts after 2007, largely in terms of its influence on the state’s school finance system through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
Many of the areas that Public Advocates has been working on and will continue to work on to achieve equal opportunity for our neediest students were highlighted by the Getting Down to Facts II research. Most notably:
- The State’s funding of public education, even under LCFF, remains woefully inadequate, falling short by 30% or some $22 billion of what is needed to achieve the state’s education goals. This funding inadequacy has led to among the lowest adult-to-student ratios in the country and indecent levels of instructional, emotional and health support for our students. The alarming share of education dollars being spent on pension costs instead of providing educational resources is only exacerbating the state’s funding problem.
- The State needs to directly address the increasing teacher shortage and principal turnover which disproportionately affect schools with the highest populations of low-income students and students of color. It can accomplish this by instituting, for example, loan forgiveness programs and expanding supports for teacher education and induction.
- More and better aligned data systems are needed to better assess and improve California’s education system and to deliver truly equitable learning opportunities for low-income students of color and English Learners.
- LCFF seems to be working insofar as the increased funding has positively impacted academic and graduation outcomes for our highest need students and the measure has increased innovation locally. However, in order to fulfill LCFF’s promise to increase equity and close achievement gaps, we still need greater transparency and community engagement, guidance on how districts should be supporting high need students with supplemental LCFF funds as well as progress on the funding, educator quality and data issues addressed here.
These challenges are not new. Indeed, I touched on all of them in an analysis of California’s new accountability system three and a half years ago. Hopefully this considerable infusion of new research from a broad array of scholars will provide new momentum for the State and its policymakers to address the funding and equity needs before us.
Note: The research referenced was reported on in an article by EdSource.