CA Education Spending Down Almost 14 Percent Since 2008

Per-student spending (Center on Budget Priorities)California is among the top 10 states with the sharpest declines in spending for K-12 education since the last recession, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The study found that California’s per-student spending was down 13.8 percent since the 2008 school year.

In all, 34 states are spending less on K-12 education than before the recession hit, including 13 that have cut per-student spending by more than 10 percent.

Apart from requiring school districts to roll back education services and look elsewhere for funding, the state spending cuts deepened the recession and slowed the pace of economic recovery by reducing the overall number of teachers and other employees, the study said. Further, it said, through last month local school districts had cut a total of 324,000 jobs since 2008, which in turn reduced family purchasing power and overall spending.

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Coming Showdown Between Programs & Hiring

So expect school districts to go on a spending binge this summer—Los Angeles Unified School District aims to equip all of its 650,000 students with tablet computers—and then unions in the fall to protest draconian budget cuts and layoffs.

– Allysia Finley in the Wall Street Journal (California’s Shrinking Surplus)

Previous posts: Union Focusing on JobsTeachers Vote Against Deasy, For More TeachersUTLA, LAUSD Prep for Prop. 30 Budget Battle

UTLA, LAUSD Prep for Prop. 30 Budget Battle

Conflicting priorities over how to spend an influx of $6 billion in statewide Prop. 30 funds are causing tensions between LAUSD and the teachers union, UTLA.

As a recent UTLA newletter reveals, concerns about how the money will be spent are one of the reasons that the union is so focused on the outcome of the March 5 election. In the newsletter, UTLA President Warren Fletcher notes that the union’s ability to achieve its budget goals “will be immeasurably helped or hindered depending on the outcome of the March 5 School Board election.”

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Board Restores 10 Days, Rejects Charter Proposal

Deasy’s chart showing the effects of Prop 30’s passage

Inside the meeting room at Tuesday’s LAUSD school board meeting, four television camera crews were present to watch the board vote unanimously to rescind 10 furlough days (five of which are instructional), thanks to the passage of Proposition 30. The board also voted to adopt a “Good Food Purchasing Policy.”

But the healthy food vote and the restoration of days were only a small part of the Board meeting, which went on for several hours and was dominated by matters related to charter schools.

Outside the meeting, there were so many charter activists (over a thousand, according to the California Charter Schools Association’s Sierra Jenkins) that they had to shut down the entire block. As one observer pointed out, the charter demonstration was the kind of stunt that the teachers union used to be the only ones to pull off.

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Morning Read: California Still Broke

Budget Shortfall Latest Threat to Schools, Even With Promise of Prop 30
Around the Capitol, attention has turned to the annual revenue forecast, due from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst this week, that also offers the first hard look at the size of next year’s budget deficit. SI&A Cabinet Report


Brown to Schools: Expect Fiscal Reform, Weighted Funding in Next Year’s Budget
The Brown administration convened an invitation-only meeting late last week for representatives of the state’s public schools to clearly communicate the governor’s intent to bring back his weighted student funding formula in next year’s budget. SI&A Cabinet Report 

Ed Source has more


Bloom’s Lead Over Betsy Butler Shrinks In Latest Vote Count
In the hotly contested California Assembly District 50 race, which still yet to be called, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom’s lead over Assemblywoman Betsy Butler has shrunk. LA Weekly


Music Teacher Linda Mouradian Honored as a ‘Beacon of Light’
Mouradian is one of 93 elementary arts instructors who teach at several LAUSD campuses each week, providing lessons in voice or instrumental music. Daily News 

Deasy to Ask Board to Restore Full School Year

Also on the Board agenda for Tuesday, November 13 will be LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy’s proposal to restore the district’s full 180-day academic calendar and repeal all scheduled staff furlough days.

Deasy’s just-announced proposal is motivated by the November 6 passage of Prop. 30, whose approval means that LAUSD doesn’t have to cut $255 million from this year’s budget and, according to Deasy, can afford going back to 180 days of school. See the full press release here.

Morning Read: Judge OKs Lawsuit

Lawsuit Against Teacher Tenure Poised to Move Forward
A lawsuit to overturn teacher tenure laws and seniority rights remained on track Thursday when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued a tentative ruling allowing the litigation to move forward. LA Times [read full text here]


Local Votes of Confidence: Most Bonds, Parcel Taxes Pass
Proposition 30, raising statewide taxes to support education, was a nail biter, struggling to get a majority of voters behind it. But that wasn’t the case for most K-12 parcel taxes and school construction bonds on the ballot Tuesday. Ed Source


The Prop 30 Windfall – Not Yet
In its first year, more than $2 billion of Prop 30 funds will be used to start paying off the nearly $10 billion in deferrals, those late payments that forced cash-strapped district to borrow money.  Those payments should free up funds so in 2013-14, districts will start to see some real money. Ed Source


LAUSD Teacher Named One of Five California Teachers of the Year
Veronica Marquez, a fifth-grade teacher at Harmony Elementary School in South Los Angeles, was named today as one of five California Teachers of the Year by state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson. Daily News

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Morning Read: Prop. 30 Afterglow

LAUSD Looks to Restore Some Staff, Programs With Prop. 30 Revenue
The passage of Prop. 30 means the district may be able to cancel some of the 10 unpaid furlough days facing teachers and other district employees, he said. Moving forward, some of the thousands of lost jobs may be restored. Daily News


L.A. Teachers Union Calls for Restoring Full School Year
“We recognize that Proposition 30 will not fix all our schools’ fiscal problems, but it is a tremendous step that is expected to cancel teacher furlough days and bring back the 180-day school year,” said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles on Wednesday. LA Times


Ed Advocates Foresee New Era With Supermajority
Many education advocates were giddy when they awoke Wednesday. Not only had Proposition 30 passed, with its promise of nearly $7 billion in new funding for schools and community colleges, but in an unexpected outcome, Democrats won supermajorities, two-thirds of the seats in both the State Assembly and Senate. Ed Source


Young Voters, Democrats, Latinos and L.A. County Pushed Prop. 30 to Victory
On Wednesday, political experts said turnout was key to the success of Prop. 30, with Democrats, Latinos and young people who turned out to re-elect President Barack Obama also voting to increase the state’s sales tax and the income tax on the wealthy. Daily News

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Deasy & Zimmer Praise Prop. 30 Passage

The morning after California voters passed Proposition 30, which temporarily raises taxes to avoid further cuts to public education, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy expressed gratitude in a written statement:

Superintendent John Deasy

“These funds will better equip us to provide a quality education to all LAUSD youth over the next several years and begin the road back to fiscal recovery. We look forward in the next several years to begin to restore some of the programs and valued employees, which were previously cut by the devastating fiscal situation in California.” (Read the whole statement here.)

Board member Steve Zimmer also sent a statement out: “There is hope on the horizon in Los Angeles this morning… Yesterday, voters convincingly told us they value public education.” (Read the whole statement here.)

The tax measure looked like it was headed for narrow defeat until votes from LA County finally began to be counted. In the end, LA County voters approved of Prop 30 by 20 percentage points, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Morning Read: Election Day

Today is Election Day. Go vote!


Gov. Jerry Brown Crisscrosses California in Final Prop. 30 Push
To shore up support for Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown goes on a 5-city swing to tout his proposal to raise taxes and head off deep cuts to public education. LA Times


Californians Started the Tax Revolt 34 Years Ago. Will They End It Today?
Today, at the behest of the same governor who came to personify the start of the tax revolt in America, Californians will decide whether they’ve had enough. After watching school funding and basic service funding atrophy for over a decade, is it finally time to call off the tax revolt? In a few hours, we’ll find out. Mother Jones

Whatever Happens to California’s Proposition 30, the Tax Revolt is Alive and Well, writes Slate’s Matthew Yglesias


Dan Walters: Campaign Disclosure Shouldn’t Be This Complicated
The dustup over the money reached a climax of sorts Monday when the Arizona organization that sent the money into California seemingly backed down and said that it came from two other nonprofit organizations that may not have to reveal their contributors under any circumstances. Sac Bee


SBE’s Packed Agenda Includes Testing Revision, Common Core Textbook Release
Critical steps are expected to be taken this week by the California State Board of Education in revising statewide testing, providing new textbooks aligned to the common core and updating curriculum standards in English language development. SI&A Cabinet Report

Ed Source has more on the Common Core vote

Morning Read: Prop. 30 Countdown

Support for Brown’s Tax Measure Holding its Own
Likely to be in the Prop. 30 camp’s favor is a massive increase in the number of newly-registered voters, said to be mostly young Democrats. Since the state launched an online registration program in September, nearly an additional one million residents have signed up to vote. SI&A Cabinet Report


Campaign Spending to Promote Props. 30 and 38 Exceeds $100 million
Proponents of Propositions 30 and 38 have now poured a combined total of $117 million to convince voters to support their respective measures, both of which are intended to raise billions of dollars for schools and other programs. Ed Source 


Prop. 30: OC Schools Struggle Amid Anti-Tax Fervor
The district’s students have already lost a week of instruction this year and stand to lose two more weeks if Prop. 30 does not pass. But Capo Unified admnistrators don’t talk about that. KPCC


State Supreme Court Wants Arizona Donors Audited
The high court orders a group that donated $11 million to a fund fighting Prop. 30 and supporting Prop. 32 to hand over records. The group is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. LA Times


Is There a Plan B For the State Budget if California’s Proposition 30 Fails?
Education leaders have privately discussed fallback efforts to spare schools from some of the worst consequences, especially after the initiative fell below 50 percent in recent polls. Sac Bee


Fresno Teachers Union Lets District Apply For Federal Grant
After a marathon debate, the Fresno teachers union agreed to endorse its school district’s application for a federal grant that would require controversial changes in instructor evaluations. LA Times

Ed Source has more

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Morning Read: What Would Be Cut?

Big Districts Divided Over Cutting School Year if Prop. 30 Fails
Slightly more than a third report that they do not plan any more furlough days, and the rest say that a shorter school year remains an option that they plan to raise with their unions. Ed Source


L.A. Unified Competes For U.S. Funds Without Key Element
A handful of California school districts have overcome hesitation or distrust from teacher unions to agree on applying for a high-profile, controversial federal grant. Los Angeles Unified, however, has opted to compete for the award without union endorsement, which it could not obtain. LA Times


Prop. 30 Fact Check
KPCC’s Tami Abdollah is fact checking the different arguments against proposition 30.  KPCC


Student-Centered Teacher Evaluations Focus on Learning Goals
Though the teacher evaluation bill, AB 5, collapsed again in August, there is wide agreement on the state’s responsibility to ensure that every student has an effective teacher.  Ed Source


California Ballot Holds Credit Risk for School Districts
If voters in California next week reject ballot measures to raise taxes, school districts in the Golden State will be among the first victims of spending cuts – a major concern not only for teachers and parents but also bondholders. Reuters

Cutting Days Won’t Be Enough, Says Deasy

Superintendent John Deasy

In a piece today in the Daily News, Barbara Jones writes that if Proposition 30 doesn’t pass, LAUSD says it would shorten the 2012-2013 school year by as many as 15 days, and the following school year by as many as 15 additional days.

But on Monday, Superintendent John Deasy told LA School Report that other cuts would be needed as well should Jerry Brown’s tax proposal be rejected by voters on Tuesday.

“School days are part of it, but that alone won’t do it,” he said.

In addition to shortening the year, school districts in financial straits sometimes shorten the school day, eliminate programs and positions considered non-essential, and negotiate pay and benefit reductions with employees.

Deasy declined to give specifics, saying only that he would present options to the school board at its already scheduled November 13 meeting.

“There will be a series of proposals the board will have to act on,” he said.

Morning Read: Brace Yourselves

LAUSD Bracing for Severe Cuts if Prop. 30 Loses
To offset the cuts, the state is allowing districts to shave 15 days off their 175-day school calendars this year – and up to 15 additional days next year – a move that LAUSD officials fear could jeopardize students’ hard-won academic gains and hinder efforts to prepare them for college or a career. Daily News


Poll Shows Brown’s Prop 30 Down, Not Out
Another new poll confirms the recent downward slide for Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase initiative, but also suggests there’s a very real chance that Brown and his allies will eke out a victory on Election Day. News10


Prop 30’s Passage in California Could Depend on College Student Turnout
While 60 percent of young voters aged 18 to 29 supported a marijuana legalization proposition on California’s ballot in 2010, only 20 percent of them showed up at the polls and it was defeated.  HuffPo 


Beyond Props 30 & 38: Education Ballot Measures You Need to Know About Before Voting
In Los Angeles County, 15 bond measures seek to benefit local schools. Districts are asking voters’ approval to borrow from $18 million to $385 million to repair leaky roofs, make seismic retrofits, modernize science labs, and construct new buildings. KPCC

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Morning Read: Cheating Fallout

Parents Criticize Officials After Cheating Allegations Roil School
Leaders of a parent organization at Short Avenue Elementary on Tuesday criticized the school’s former principal and the Los Angeles Unified School District in the wake of alleged cheating and mistakes in administering state standardized tests by teachers. LA Times


Dan Walters: What to Do if Proposition 30 Fails?
As the political odds turn against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure, political insiders are turning their attention, however reluctantly, to the fallout should, indeed, voters reject the sales and income tax hike on Tuesday. Sac Bee (Commentary)


How Proposition 30 Can Still Win
If the November turnout is only 62 percent of registered voters, Proposition 30 will lose because that electorate will be much more like a non-presidential year electorate than what we are used to in a presidential year. Fox and Hounds


More coverage of UTLA’s refusal to sign off on the Race to the Top application: CBSABCWitness LA and KPCC

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Morning Read: Still No Race to the Top Deal

LAUSD, Other Districts Miss Out on Race to the Top Grants as Unions Won’t Sign Applications
The two sides resumed informal discussions on Monday after the deadline was extended because of Hurricane Sandy, but still couldn’t reach an agreement.  Daily News

See also the LA Times


Gov. Jerry Brown Has Yet to Pick a Central Prop. 30 Sales Pitch
Mixed messages about Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike initiative underscore his struggle pitching Prop. 30 to voters and have provided fodder for foes. LA Times


Credit Rating for California School Districts Could be Downgraded if Props 30 & 38 Fail
Moody’s Investors Service says the forecast for California school districts is dire, and many are at risk of having their credit rating downgraded if both ballot measures fail. KPCC


Texas, California Do Compete – in Funding Race to the Bottom
In this state, where only 25 percent of schoolchildren are non-Hispanic whites, but 66 percent of likely voters are, it’s not hard to understand why voters are so resistant to tax increases even for public education. Ed Source

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Principals Cancel Deasy Meetings*

Dr. Judith Perez, President of AALA

The administrators’ association has been repeatedly complaining to the school district about administrators’ workload (see: Principals: Too Many Plans). But the AALA hasn’t been getting much time or attention from LAUSD Superintendent Deasy who, according to the October 22  newsletter, says he’s too focused on Props 30 and 38 to meet with them.

“Finding resources to help and committing them before we know if we might go bankrupt seems like irresponsible leadership NOT disrespectful behavior towards you or any of our fantastic principals,” emailed Deasy, according to the newsletter. In response, the AALA has cancelled its scheduled meetings with Deasy.

*The original version of this post incorrectly described Deasy as having canceled meetings with the principals when it was actually the other way around.

Chart: Life Without Prop. 30

This analysis published in the Daily News points out that the $6 billion in cuts that the Governor has threatened if Prop. 30 doesn’t pass are only “cuts” because they were pre-built into the budget by over-optimistic politicians and could be addressed through other means than solely cutting 15-20 days of school as has been reported, and that school funding (red line in this chart) would still rise in future years thanks to economic growth (just not as much or as quickly as under Prop. 30).

Morning Read: Union Blocks $40M Grant Plan

Teachers Union Refuses to Sign Off on LAUSD Plan for Race to the Top Grant
The Los Angeles teachers union has refused to sign off on Los Angeles Unified’s bid for a prestigious Race to the Top grant, costing the district a shot at winning $40 million in federal money, sources said Saturday. Daily News


Measuring the Worth of a Teacher?
L.A. Unified School District’s Academic Growth Over Time measurement system, based on students’ progress on standardized tests, spurs debate over fairness, accuracy. LA Times


State Strips 23 Schools of API Rankings for Cheating
Teachers helped students correct mistakes on standardized tests, prepared them with actual test questions or left instructional posters displayed in the classroom during testing, according to school district reports. LA Times


Proposition 30 Analysis: Does California Need More Tax Money?
Even if the measure fails, funding for schools is expected to increase 21 percent from 2012 to 2015 because of economic growth. The $6 billion trigger-cut figure stems from the fact that he and the Legislature started the budget year by assuming that Proposition 30 would pass. Daily News


Brown Brings Prop. 30 Campaign to L.A.’s Grand Central Market
Fighting for support for his tax-hike initiative to help fund education, Gov. Jerry Brown aims his message at Latinos. LA Times

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Events: Board Member Martinez to Talk About Props

LAUSD Board Member Nury Martinez

LAUSD Board Member Nury Martinez is hosting a town hall meeting in the San Fernando Valley on Saturday, October 27 to educate parents and community members about how propositions on the upcoming election ballot will affect LA schools.

Martinez will speak along with LAUSD’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Megan Reillyhas, about the drastic budget cuts that will be triggered if prop 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure, doesn’t pass on November 6.

Representatives for props 30, 32, and 38 will also speak and take questions from parents about the impact of their props on LAUSD.

The workshop will be held at Valley Region Middle School #3 in Sun Valley from 10 a.m. to noon.

Find the full event details here.