By Len Feldman
Using new revenues generated by CTA-backed Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have reached a budget agreement that provides $2 billion in funds to begin repaying money owed to schools from past years, an additional $1.25 billion to help implement the Common Core State Standards, and expanded appropriations for community colleges and higher education.
A key element of the budget — which was approved as the Educator went to press — is the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), a progressive proposal that changes how the state funds schools. While aiming to simplify and increase transparency in school budgeting, the LCFF boosts base funding for all districts and provides more money on top of that to cover the higher costs of educating students most in need. That targeted funding is vital to bridging the student achievement gap.
The increased funding is also crucial to helping California reduce a downward spending trend that has driven the state to 49th nationally in per-student spending. While it will take years for our schools to fully recover, this budget agreement is a big step in the right direction.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a state budget proposal with a significant increase in education funding,” says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “We call on all lawmakers to support this compromise on the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula as part of the final budget because the numbers add up to renewed opportunities for our schools.
“We are also encouraged by the $1.25 billion for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. These new standards will dramatically impact teaching and learning. Educators must have the resources they need to help students succeed. The new language on accountability protects collective bargaining rights and restricts oversight by the county offices of education.”
CTA’s State Council in June reaffirmed its support for the goals of the LCFF, while raising a number of key concerns that were spelled out in an addendum to State Council’s Budget Principles. CTA supports the goals of the LCFF because association members believe that every student is entitled to educational equality.
“We appreciate the recognition that it costs more money to educate students with higher needs,” adds Vogel. “We worked closely with the governor and lawmakers on a budget consistent with our association’s State Budget Principles, which call for equitable funding for students most in need, repayment of what our schools are owed, an annual cost-of-living adjustment for all schools while the formula is being implemented over a period of several years, and full funding for the state’s K-3 Class Size Reduction program.”
The new funding formula represents an important opportunity for educators to have input into expanded district-level spending decisions via collective bargaining.
While the LCFF does not provide California with sufficient funding, it will help restore some of the billions of dollars that have been cut from schools in recent years. The formula will also provide more resources in the future.
For a closer look at the finalized budget, visit www.cta.org/budget.
Related Tags: Volume 17 Issue 9, Action, Inside Educator, Accountability, Achievement gap, Budget, Class size reduction, Common Core, ESL, Funding,