New CBP Report – Rising to the Challenge: Why Greater Investment in K-12 Education Matters for California’s Students

The CBP yesterday released a new School Finance Facts report, comparing California student demographics, education spending, and school staffing to that in the rest of the US. This analysis finds that the state’s investment in K-12 schools lags the nation, even as California faces unique challenges in educating its 6.2 million public school students. Rising to the Challenge: Why Greater Investment in K-12 Education Matters for California’s Students shows that:

  • California invests less in K-12 education than other states, despite having greater financial resources. California’s per capita personal income ($47,115) was higher than for the rest of the US ($43,905) in 2012-13. Yet this same year, the rest of the nation invested 4.04 percent of total personal income in K-12 education, a level more than one-fourth (27 percent) higher than the 3.18 percent in California (see chart).

  • California’s 1.3 million English learners (ELs) nearly equal the combined number of ELs in the next four most populous states — Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois — even though these four states together have roughly twice as many students as California.
  • More than half (53.0 percent) of California’s students come from low-income families, a larger share than in the rest of the US (46.8 percent). Among the five most populous states, only Florida has a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students (56.0 percent) than California.
  • California’s schools have more students per staff than schools in the rest of the US, ranking last or close to the bottom by a number of key K-12 student-to-staff ratios. California ranks 51st nationally (including all states and DC) in students per teacher, 51st in students per guidance counselor, 51st in students per librarian, and 48th in students per administrator.

Rising to the Challenge notes the importance of the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), approved by the Governor and the Legislature this past summer, in directing additional resources to disadvantaged students, and also indicates that per student spending is expected to increase in the next couple of years due to voter approval in November 2012 of Proposition 30’s temporary tax increases.

Yet the report also cautions, as we’ve blogged about before, that the LCFF and Proposition 30 do not in themselves provide sufficient resources for educating California’s K-12 students. It will be critical that California work over the long-term toward providing schools with the resources needed to ensure a high-quality education for our state’s students.

— Steven Bliss