Legislation updates: Concerns about new funding formula
With California public schools and students still reeling under the effects of $20 billion in cuts, CTA and its Education Coalition partners urge lawmakers to provide funding to restore programs before implementing the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
CTA supports Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal based on the belief that every student is entitled to educational equality. CTA has been having conversations with the governor and legislators to ensure all concerns are addressed including accountability, use of accurate data in determining funding levels, timing of implementation, and funding for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Assembly Member Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), chair of a budget subcommittee looking at the governor’s spending proposal, says the state can’t keep asking education to spin gold from straw. “It takes an infusion of funding to make things happen.”
Allocating funding to the LCFF, which provides more money for English learners, students living in poverty and foster youth, would have implications for other important programs, including class size reduction, Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment, and Common Core implementation.
Under the new proposal, many categorical programs would be consolidated, and funds to implement programs like the Common Core State Standards would be decided at the local level. Common Core implementation alone requires added funding. Local chapters need to be involved in local funding decisions.
Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) questions whether the governor’s LCFF really increases funding for schools. “The first priority is to increase base funding for all districts so that we don’t have winners and losers, things the Department of Finance figures [of funding under LCFF] show. All the school districts in my area are losers, according to these figures.”
At press time, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released figures revealing public schools are likely to see an additional $4.3 billion over two years, and attributed the increase to passage of Prop. 30. This will likely help restore funds.
During their presentation to the education subcommittee of the Assembly Budget Committee, Education Coalition members emphasized the importance of acknowledging that drastic cuts have slashed more than $20 billion from schools. These cuts reduced the number of employees, shortened school years, and forced furlough days. Restoring these cuts is the Education Coalition’s top priority.
CTA reminded lawmakers California ranks 49th nationally in per-pupil spending. While the top 10 states spend more than $15,000 per student and the average state spends $11,000, California allocates only $9,000 per student. The Education Coalition wants California to boost its spending to be among the top 10 states.
Even without new programs, the funding restoration would put California only 42nd nationally.
It is likely the final formula will see many changes before it is implemented, and CTA will continue to work with the governor and the Legislature.
The budget subcommittee’s review of the governor’s plan is part of the Legislature’s effort to craft a final budget prior to the June 15 constitutional deadline. The governor has until June 30 to sign the proposal sent to him by the Legislature, with July 1 marking the start of the next fiscal year.
Court to decide on legality of state’s ban on ‘gay conversion therapy’
The law that prohibits psychologists from treating a youngster’s sexual orientation as a “disease” and from forcing a youth to “change” is being reviewed by a federal appeals court. CTA-backed SB 1172 was approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor last year.
While the measure was signed into law last year with an effective date of Jan. 1, legal wrangling put the measure on hold. Groups representing parents and psychotherapists objected to it, claiming the measure impinges on their free speech rights. Gay rights organizations point to the fact that the “conversion” practice stigmatizes youngsters, often leading to their depression and suicide.
If found constitutional by the courts, the measure will help protect school faculty who work with gay student groups from being pressured into advocating the virtues of “conversion” to their gay or bisexual students.