BEHIND THE NUMBERS

California has the 5th largest economy in the world and the largest GDP of any state, yet ranks near the bottom in nearly every measure of school funding or school staffing.

45th in percentage of taxable income spent on education

Percent of total taxable income spent on education

Student need and the high cost of living

The problems posed by California’s dismal school funding levels are compounded by the high level of student need and the state’s high cost of living: 58% of California’s public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch — above the national average of 52%.

Free or reduced-price lunch eligible

41st

in per-pupil funding

Per-pupil funding

$12,252
$10,291
$1,961 funding gap

Source: California Budget & Policy
Center through 2015-16

45th

in pupil-teacher ratios

Pupils per teacher

15.4
22.1
135,041 teachers needed
to close the gap

Source: NEA (2015-16)

48th

in pupil-staff ratio

All staff: students per staff member

8
11
213,711 staff needed
to close the gap

Source: NCES (2014-15)

California

National Average

If the state funded schools at just the national average, that would increase funding by $1,961 per pupil. For a classroom of 25 students, that’s an additional $49,025 for student support services (counselors, social workers, wellness centers), parent and community engagement, support for English learners, intervention programs, instructional support staff, class size reduction, CTE, and expanded offerings in the arts and other extracurriculars.

justaverage

Student need and the high cost of living

The problems posed by California’s dismal school funding levels are compounded by the high level of student need and the state’s high cost of living: 58% of California’s public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch — above the national average of 52%.

Free or reduced-price lunch eligible
58.6
52

California

National Average

Source: California Dept. of Education Student Poverty FRPM Data (Mar 2016)

High percentage of English learner students

California also has the nation’s highest percentage of English learner students at 23% — more than twice the national average of 9%.

English learners (% of enrollment)
22.7
9.3

California

National Average

Source: NCES (2013-14)

California has one of the worst teacher-pupil ratios in the nation and some of the lowest overall staffing levels in the country.

 All StaffOfficials
and admin.
Principals
and asst.
principals
Instructional
aides
Guidance
counselors
Librarians
California11.72,14138297.6822 8,096
National Average8.175029867.8491   1,109 
Difference3.61,3918529.8331 6,981 
Additional staff to close gap238,7815,4694,69528,4565,186 4,909 
Ranking48th47th44th46th49th50th

High spending on government, low spending on schools

LCFF is a step forward philosophically because it supports equity by directing more money to students with higher need. But redistribution is not a solution when the overall funding pie is much too small. California is a wealthy state with high incomes and a large, healthy economy that has chosen to invest more in other parts of government than it invests in schools.

highspending