Public education is at the heart of our society’s pursuit of equality. But a new report from the California Budget Project shows that California’s K-12 public education system is in crisis.
California is winning a race to the bottom and our children are paying the price. The report finds that, when compared to other states, California ranks:
• 50th in student to teacher ratios, with 21.3:1 compared to a national average of 13.8:1
• 49th in student to guidance counselor ratios, with 809:1 compared to a national average of 440:1
• 46th in student to school administrator ratios, with 358:1 compared to a national average of 216:1
• 46th in education spending as a percentage of personal income, and
• 44th in spending per student, with $8,826 spent per student compared to a national average of $11,372
Unfortunately for our children, in the context of our $19.1 billion deficit, California could soon place 50th in all categories. The governor and Republican legislators are refusing to discuss revenue alternatives. Their cuts-based approach to closing our budget gap inevitably places a huge target on K-12 education because it is the largest single expenditure from our General Fund.
But California is spending less on education now than it has in 40 years. And, our public education system is tasked with educating more students than any other state, with a disproportionate number coming from low-income families. It also has the highest number of English-learning students in the US.
As ongoing negotiations move towards a budget agreement, a responsible combination of budget cuts and new revenues must rule the day. If we can’t make some additional sacrifices for the future of our state’s children, then this crisis will become not only a budget crisis, but a moral one.