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Gov. Brown to Shift Money to Poorer Schools

His proposed state budget for 2013-14 features a revolutionary change in the way education is financed.

With a slowly recovering economy and the recent passage of temporary taxes, Gov. Brown now wants to move the additional educational dollars floating around to school districts serving poorer students and English learners.

In coming years, suburban school districts may end up paying the price to help the underserved, but Brown said only the shortsighted would not agree with his self-described progressive plan to bring equality.

“It’s a classic case of justice to unequals [sic]. We have to give more to approach equality. That’s the principle. I think that’s a powerful principle,” Brown said Thursday in introducing his proposed 2013-14 budget.

Brown proposed a similar plan last year: a so-called “weighted student formula” that gets rid of a lot of special programs and allots money at a flat rate per student, giving an extra 35 percent for low-income students and English learners. The idea, however, was ultimately trimmed from the budget.

This year, he’s calling it “local flexibility,” and it’s designed to be implemented in phases. The plan would give more money to school districts that have at least 50 percent of their population as poor or English learners. 

However, suburban schools – which have been hurting financially along with the rest of the state – may ultimately get pinched. Brown said he was OK with that.

“Our future depends on it. If we don’t invest adequate funds in our children and their education, we will not have the economic well-being in future years,” he said. Aging suburbanites need a strong, younger work force to support them.

“One of the most important ways we do that is to invest in schools and disproportionately invest in those schools where there is greater difficulty in learning,” he said.  “I think the majority of the people are going to see that. “

He pointed out that schools in Beverly Hills and Los Gatos are much better off than those in Compton or Richmond. 

Brown also said the state's deficit is gone for the first time in years, adding it could reduce California's debt substantially by 2016.

"The deficit's gone; the wall of debt remains," Brown said, noting the state's $36-billion debt could be reduced to $4.3 billion by 2016. 

The budget proposed by Brown also increases per-student funding for all levels of education. By the 2016-17 school year, K-12 schools would see a $2,681 increase in spending for each student. At the CSU and UC levels, spending would increase by about $2,000 and $2,500 by 2016-17, respectively. 

— Cody Kitaura contributed to this report.

Where do you think money should specifically go for local schools?

Russell Person January 13, 2013 at 09:59 PM
“One of the most important ways we do that is to invest in schools and disproportionately invest in those schools where there is greater difficulty in learning,” he said. “I think the majority of the people are going to see that. “ How can Gov. Brown suggest that in some schools there is greater difficulty learning. Intelligence is the same whether across groups whether you are an English learner or if you are from a poor family. My family lives below the poverty line and my 6 year old is in a 3/4th grade classroom, because I value education and I teach him as well. You can't make up for parents who do not value education by spending more money on those children. It isn't fair to the rest. Why penalize children who perform well? Disadvantaged is disadvantaged, not because a family is poor or foreign born does a child become disadvantaged. Anyone can excel in school. Studies show that since the 1970's school funding per pupil has doubled while academic performance has remained unchanged. Stop believing that money is the answer. It is not. He pointed out that schools in Beverly Hills and Los Gatos are much better off than those in Compton or Richmond.
Austin_l January 14, 2013 at 07:03 AM
What about when those children in Compton and Richmond go to school and a third of the class sits on the floor? You can't expect anyone to take something seriously if there aren't even enough desks. In some cases, more funding can help.
Q January 14, 2013 at 06:10 PM
I believe Governor Brown may be referring to need for additional resources to support students in lower income areas. Families who have available resources will generally perform better simply because they can access resources to address areas of need or concerns. Children growing up in poor families can have learning needs be put on the back burner because families worry more about what to put on the kitchen table or how to pay next month's utility bill. Academics can become a secondary concern. I don't deny that potential exist in all students, regardless of whether they are rich or poor. I do believe that the availability of resources in poorer schools can help to bridge the learning gap for students. Q
Russell Person January 14, 2013 at 09:12 PM
School finding is around $11,000 a year PER Student. I think that is enough to buy the child a desk!
Russell Person January 14, 2013 at 09:24 PM
It never had to do with "resources". It has to do with individual attention, self-paced learning and parental involvement. For instance, homes that have more than 500 books, produce students who are successful. If families are busy paying bills, let's hope that some of them remember to read.

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