Don't Cry For The California Schoolchildren Facing Spending Cuts

thehills tbi

There’s no easier way to draw attention to your budgetary plight than to hack (or threaten to hack) education spending.

The thought of children squeezed into a one-room schoolhouse like sardines (not pictured), eating sugary lunches and learning about whales for the third time this semester (because the school didn’t have the budget to buy any new material) is just too much for anyone to take.

But education tends to be a big line item, and when you’re looking to flense the budget, it’s a good candidate for cuts.

Matt Welch points to this AP article about the coming “deep budget cuts” and the effect it will have on education. It includes lines like this:

“California used to lead the nation in education,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said during a recent visit to San Francisco. “Honestly, I think California has lost its way, and I think the long-term consequences of that are very troubling.”


But as Welch points out, talking about cuts in education spending makes as much sense as talking about banker pay:

Not mentioned anywhere in the entire 1,093-word article: “[S]pending for kindergarten through 12th grade education in the Governor’s proposed budget for 2008-09 [was] $7.4 billion higher than it was five years ago – and average daily attendance during that same period has declined by 74,000 students.” Nor is there uttered the phrase “Proposition 98,” which is a 20-year-old law that locks in K-14 education spending at 40 per cent of California’s budget. Considering that the California budget between 1990-91 and 2008-2009 grew by an average of 5.91 per cent, compared to an inflation+population growth rate of 4.38 per cent, that has resulted in two decades of robust education funding increases.

Also not mentioned in the article are the $48.9 billion in school construction/maintenance bonds passed this decade alone (at a time of decreasing enrollment), or that firing teachers is a perennial California scare story, one that almost never results in significant amounts of teachers actually getting fired. (This is due in part to the fact that in many districts, it’s nigh on impossible to fire a teacher.) Might this latter factor contribute to California’s wretched K-12 academic performance? The article does not dip a toe in any such analysis, relying instead on a two-pronged explanation of slashed funding and under-educatable immigrants… Read the whole thing >

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