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Is Gov. Brown Right to Dole Out Money to Schools Unequally?

Compare per student funding for unified and high school districts around the region.

This is what California public education looks like after the Great Recession: 

Between 2007 and 2010, the number of teachers in the state's K-12 classrooms shrunk by 11 percent. Reading specialists, librarians, and other school employees helping students learn declined by 14 percent. Front offices took the hardest blow, with the number of administrators dropping by 16 percent. All these cuts hit schools even as the total enrollment held steady at around 6.2 million students. 

Now that California is looking at its first budget without a deficit in five years, Gov. Jerry Brown's budget calls for restoring some money to the state's public schools. But, he does not want to distribute the money equally.

[For differences in revenues between most unified and high school districts in the greater Sacramento region during the 2010-11 school year, see the tables at the top of this article. The data comes from Ed-Data.]

"Aristotle said, 'Treating unequals equally is not justice.' And people are in different situations. Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont," Brown said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

There are already big differences in the sums school districts get from the state.

Consider two communities Brown mentioned, Piedmont and Richmond. In the 2010-11 school year, Piedmont received $12,287 for every student. The West Contra Costa Unified School District, which includes Richmond, received $9,735 per student.

But only $3,300 of Piedmont’s revenue came from the state. That’s about a third less than the average unified school district gets from Sacramento. Contra Costa Unified School District received $5,600 per student from the state, which is more than the statewide average.

Here’s how Piedmont made up the difference and then some: The $9.1 million that Piedmont raised that school year in parcel taxes was 7,589 percent higher than the statewide average.

Brown’s spending plan has a $3 billion more than last year for K-12 and community colleges, will that be enough to bridge the economic gap that contributes to the achievement gap, and ultimately becomes a cycle-reinforcing income gap? Does more money improve student performance? 

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Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Mark Paxson January 17, 2013 at 03:53 AM
Patchreader ... imagine what might happen in our schools if we had teachers aides to help teachers. We don't have them? Maybe if we had $2,500 more per student, our schools could afford them.
Mark Paxson January 17, 2013 at 03:55 AM
M. before we go any further on this, please feel free to cite the "law" you believe would require $635,000 of my hypothetical $750,000 to go to salaries. When you can provide that, we'll continue. Until you can, I'd suggest that you're wrong and there's no point in continuing the discussion until that particular issue is resolved.
Reality Check January 17, 2013 at 02:17 PM
back in the 1970's they took me for a ride to the raw milk farm! wtf!?
Reality Check January 17, 2013 at 02:19 PM
it's back scratching, just let it go
Reality Check January 17, 2013 at 02:20 PM
They make money from the figment of their imagination anyway!

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