Conditions of Education in California, 1986–87
Continuing growth and sustained progress on educational reform characterize California's public schools, but the Gann spending limit, which potentially restricts state dollars for education, and projected shortages of highly qualified teachers dampen prospects for continued educational improvements. Indications of important educational progress in California, which PACE documented in Conditions of Education in California, 1985, continue on many fronts. This is particularly true when compared to the recent decade of serious decline in California's public school system. In 1986, student performance, especially in elementary grades, is improving; the rise in dropouts has peaked; the high school curriculum is becoming more rigorous; the state has enacted landmark legislation providing $4-5 billion for much needed school construction; and spending per pupil is approaching the national average. Despite these hopeful signs, there are threatening clouds. There is likely to be a shortage of highly qualified teachers in the next few years. Quite apart from sheer numbers of new teachers needed to meet projected enrollment increases, further progress in raising student performance will be difficult unless California can accomplish the widely discussed upgrading of its teaching profession. Moreover, securing the fiscal resources necessary to upgrade teaching or, indeed, even to maintain present educational service levels, is seriously threatened by the Gann limit on public expenditures.