The 2022 PACE/USC Rossier Poll
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The 2021–22 academic year was profoundly challenging for California schools. Eight critical issues emerged as serious threats to student learning, the operation of schools, and even the very institution of public education: (1) gun violence, (2) politicization of and support for public education, (3) controversy over what is taught in schools, (4) student learning and well-being, (5) declining enrollment, (6) teacher shortages, (7) college affordability, and (8) long-term funding inadequacy and instability. These issues also present a threat to equity because they disproportionately affect the...

Trade-offs and Policy Alternatives for California
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The method California uses to count students for funding purposes is an important decision that drives both resources and behaviors. For more than 100 years, California has funded school districts based on the average number of students who attend school each day. Although this average daily attendance (ADA) method was once used by many states, the practice has faded. Now, California is one of just six states that use ADA to allocate state education funding to school districts. The remaining states use other student count methods such as average enrollment. Some state legislators, advocates...
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California enacted a groundbreaking shift to its school-funding system when it passed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013. The law sought to make funding more equitable and also aimed to increase local control based on the premise that budgeting decisions are best made at the local level in partnership with community stakeholders, who must, in turn, hold the district accountable. This report takes stock of LCFF 8 years after its passage and explores ways it can be further refined to improve equitable funding, opportunities, and outcomes in California. Our findings are based on: (a...

The Path Towards Reimagining and Rebuilding Schools
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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all students; however, its impact has been particularly devastating for students of color, students from low-income families, English learners, and other marginalized children and youth. As transmission rates decline and vaccination rates increase in California, many are eager to return to normalcy, but we must all recognize that even the prepandemic normal was not working for all students. The 2021–22 school year, therefore, constitutes a critical opportunity for schools to offer students, families, and educators a restorative restart. This is a moment for...

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California’s school system is under tremendous long-run fiscal pressure; allocating resources efficiently is therefore paramount. Efficient allocation means more money spent on the most effective policies and interventions; less waste; and ultimately better outcomes for students. Economic analysis—making sure districts and schools are spending their budgets wisely—is the method used to identify effectiveness and efficiency. This method responds to the question educational professionals face: Am I making the most efficient decisions given the resources I have and the goals I need to meet for my...
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California is the fifth largest economy in the world and the wealthiest state in the nation. The Golden State is home to countless tech giants, an enormous entertainment industry, major agricultural regions, and many other successful industries. California households earn a median income of $71,000 per year, more than $10,000 above the national average. However, California school funding—even before COVID-19—was insufficient to meet educational goals and address the needs of students, particularly given the state’s high cost of living. How can that be true? Why is education funding so low in...

A Summary Brief
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California and the rest of the country are enduring a pandemic-induced economic recession, and school and district leaders are bracing for the fallout. Funding for California schools had improved rapidly between 2013 and 2019, with districts spending roughly $13,100 per pupil in 2018–19 as compared with $9,680 only 6 years earlier. However, that level of funding still fell short of what would have been adequate given California’s goals as a state, the student population it serves, and its cost of living. According to Levin et al.’s 2018 Getting Down to Facts II study, California would need to...

Views from the 2020 PACE/USC Rossier Poll
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In the run-up to 2020 elections, where do California voters stand on key education policy issues? This report examines findings and trends from the 2020 PACE/USC Rossier poll. Key findings include rising pessimism about California education and elected officials, continued concern about gun violence in schools and college affordability, and negative opinions about higher education. However, there is substantial support for increased spending, especially on teacher salaries.

A Progress Report One Year After Getting Down to Facts II
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The 2018 Getting Down to Facts II research project drew attention to California’s continued need to focus on the achievement gap, strengthen the capacity of educators in support of continuous improvement, and attend to both the adequacy and stability of funding for schools. Based on the nature of the issues and the progress made in 2019, some clear next steps deserve attention as 2020 unfolds.

Minority Pay Gap Widens Despite More Schooling, Higher Scores
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An earlier version of this paper was published by the Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D. C. African Americans and Latinos historically have fared poorly, relative to whites, in educational attain­ment (years of schooling), educational achievement (test scores), and average wages. One would ex­pect that, if education gaps between minority and white youth are narrowed, the wage gaps for these youth should narrow as well. If this turns out not to be the case, a political intervention (such as affir­mative action or other policies) in this imperfect market system may be justified. This...
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This paper is a baseline analysis of how many teachers will be needed in California over the next 10 years. By baseline analysis, we mean that the authors have taken data on student enrollment projections and looked at several variables that affect the number of teachers available in the years to come. These variables include the expected rate at which new teachers come into the profession and the rate at which teachers retire. Both of these variables are difficult to estimate. The baseline analysis that is presented does not try to include several critical events that have occurred in recent...
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Historically, the education productivity problem has been rising resources with flat or only slowly rising student achievement. In the period 1960–1990, infla­tion-adjusted revenues per pupil rose by slightly more than 200%. However, despite a number of positive performance indi­cators, student achievement in core subject areas during the same period rose only modestly. The future productivity problem is producing much higher student achievement, the goal of current education reform, with stable resources, because education resources have been flat for the past five years and are unlikely to...
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The 1995–96 California state budget allocated an additional $1 billion to K–12 education over the previous budget year. While the funding increase was welcomed by educators across the state, the additional funds were not part of any effort to restructure school finance policy in the state. Rather, two-thirds of these additional funds were designed to be used to offset non-recurring expenses, of which the schools have many. Deferred maintenance, library materials, technology improvements, and facility upgrades were among the categories of spending to which schools could dedicate these new...
Financial Analysis
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On November 2, 1993, Californians will face their most important education decision since the state's formation. Ballot Proposition 174, if enacted, will amend the state constitution and establish "scholarships" redeemable by parents for their children's kindergarten through 12th grade schooling. If this ballot measure passes, public schools will continue to exist, as will today's many kinds of private schools. However, alongside of these two conventional schooling alternatives will be a third choice, "scholarship redeeming schools." These new schools will be paid for, or at least financially...
Overview of PACE Analysis
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PACE has analyzed the financial, legal, and social ramifications of Proposition 174, the school choice initiative, so as to provide Californians and policymakers with accurate, unbiased information. This packet contains important questions and answers about the initiative, summaries of PACE's financial analysis and polling report, and background information on PACE and its directors.
The School Voucher Initiative
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On November 2, 1993, Californians will decide whether to amend the California Constitution according to the provisions of the "Parental Choice in Education Initiative," Proposition 174. PACE has undertaken an analysis of the initiative's provisions. This analysis is intended to provide policymakers, parents, educators, and mem­bers of the general public with objective information. PACE is not taking a position on the initiative. Rather, the PACE analysis reviews significant components of the initiative and raises the policy questions and issues for voters to consider. PACE has produced...
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California's public schools have been trapped in the state's fiscal and political gridlock. Since the 1983 reforms, California has not supported a cohesive education reform strategy. Further, a series of publicly enacted initiatives, including Proposition 13, the Gann Limit, and Proposition 98 have severely limited the ability of state policymakers to fund schools adequately, and have curtailed the ability of local leaders to add to the education funding pot. Higher-than-projected enrollment growth and the 1991 recession exacerbated the education funding crunch. Dramatically improving...
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After taking a back seat to education reform pro­grams during the 1980s, school finance is again in the forefront. With the re­cent sweeping state supreme court deci­sions overturning school finance struc­tures in Kentucky, New Jersey, and Tex­as, and with active or planned cases in 23 additional states, education finance liti­gation, fiscal inequities, and school fi­nance reform have rebounded to high places on state education policy agendas. This article discusses the changing contours of school finance through the 1970s and 1980s and outlines the key is­sues in school finance for the 1990s...
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Across the United States, funding for education has shown tremendous growth since World War II. After taking inflation and student enrollment increases into account, spending for our nation's schools increased by 67 percent in the 1960s, 35 percent in the 1970s, and 30 percent in the 1980s. In California, real spending per pupil for education grew 13 percent between 1980–81 and 1990–91. Why, in the wealthiest state in the nation, has the growth in spending for schools lagged behind other states? There are a number of plausible explanations including the taxpayer revolt of the late 1970s; the...
Not Whether, But What
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Choice. It is a pleasant enough sound­ing word. In some contexts, "choice" conjures up notions of freedom and de­mocracy, concepts and conditions Ameri­cans revere. In specific application to education, choice describes a set of sys­tems or processes by which parents are able to choose the school their child at­tends. What could be controversial about that? Yet debate surrounding the issue of choice has sparked a war of rhetoric that has reached schools and local com­munities, corporate boardrooms, state legislative chambers, and even Congress and the White House. Choice is not a new issue. It...
California and Senate Bill 813
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In 1983, the California legislature enacted a series of incentive programs intended, in part, to encourage local school districts to devote more resources toward instructional expenditures. Analysis of district response to those incentives shows they were more effective in directing spending toward direct instruction than were general or categorical grants. However, it appears that as the incentive funds were rolled into general aid revenues, district spending patterns began to revert to the same distribution of expenditures observed prior to enactment of the incentives. This article was...
California K–12 Education 1991–1995
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Forecasting revenues and expenditures is an integral pan of public sector planning and budgeting. Revenue forecasting projects the level of resources available to accomplish governmental objectives. Expenditure forecasting estimates the level of future spending needed to accomplish such objectives. Since expenditures must equal revenues, an important function of forecasting is to see whether the existing revenue structure will provide funds sufficient for future needs. Where such is not the case, the critical policy options involve enhancing revenues by altering the revenue structure, cutting...
A Comparison of Education Reforms in the United States and Great Britain
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The new international economy is affecting more than business. It is also reshaping education in many industrialized nations. The need for a more highly educated workforce is stimulating policy makers to expand access to schooling and enhance its quality. Specific educational reforms enacted by a nation depend upon conditions such as historical developments, existing institutional arrangement, and current economic balances. However, despite continuing differences among the world's schooling systems, the emerging global economy virtually demands that nations now address similar educational...