Dean E. Vogel
How is this school year different?
For the first time in six years we are beginning the school year with more resources than we had the year before. Not only that, we also have a larger say in how that money should be spent on the local level. This could not have happened without our success in passing Proposition 30 last November. New resources are pouring into the state and heading to our schools and colleges.
This is a much-needed break from the last six years of funding cuts totaling more than $20 billion. California still ranks 49th in per-pupil funding. We have a long way to climb, and the new money from Prop. 30, which is projected to be an additional $47 billion over the next seven years, will keep us moving in the right direction.
Speaking of the right direction, the latest state budget is ushering in the biggest change to school funding in 30 years. The Local Control Funding Formula puts educators at the table in a greater and more meaningful way. You and your local association will have a critical role in designing the best educational experience for your students.
All school districts will be receiving more money than they did last year, and districts serving a higher percentage of English learners and students on free or reduced-priced lunch will receive even more. The new funding formula recognizes that not all students are the same, and funnels additional resources to the districts with students that need a little more help. That’s a good thing.
In addition to navigating this new Local Control Funding Formula, we will also be spending much of this year dealing with the implementation of Common Core Standards. I know these standards are a big change. They put teachers back in control of crafting and tailoring the education of their students. Critical thinking skills can now be part of our students’ educational foundation, and we can decide how to best teach that. And while we support the standards, we do not support the high-stakes testing that some want to bring along with them. That’s why CTA delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly this summer proposed and passed a new business item calling for a moratorium on using Common Core test results for any purpose other than to inform instruction.
States and districts must work collaboratively with educators to create authentic, locally developed curriculum, assessments, and professional development related to Common Core. Until that is the norm, the tests should stay on the shelf.
So as you begin another year, I hope you will see how all your hard work in the last election is paying off. Welcome back to a new year with exciting new opportunities.
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