California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is about to pull off an incredible feat: He has the teachers’ union’s support to cut $2 billion from the education budget, says the LA Times:
SACRAMENTO — With the support of California’s largest teacher’s union, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to propose cutting at least $2 billion in education spending when he presents his first state budget Friday.
After closed-door negotiations with the governor’s staff, leaders of the California Teacher’s Assn. agreed to back an assortment of temporary education cuts — the details of which remain sketchy — in return for Schwarzenegger’s pledge not to tinker with Proposition 98, according to officials close to the talks. Proposition 98 is a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that K-12 schools and community colleges annually receive an increasing stream of money from the state’s general fund.
Pretty slick negotiating for a musclebound movie actor.
The governor’s education secretary, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, is working on a dramatic change in education funding that would send money directly to the schools on a per-student basis. The Orange County Register reports:
Schools would be held to strict standards but would be given freedom to determine how they met those standards.
Under the proposal, parents would see much control over their children’s education shift from school boards and district officials to principals and teachers.
The state would set a flat per-student payment — higher for students with higher needs — that would replace the current formulas and categories.
Schools would be required to meet academic standards set by state education officials. But unlike with the current system, which mandates that certain amounts of money be spent on certain programs, schools could choose their own strategies for meeting the standards. School districts would evaluate principals to ensure the standards are being met. State officials would evaluate the districts.
The plan, which is still in development, is inspired by Making Schools Work by William Ouchi, a UCLA business professor.
Currently, many districts spend more at schools with more affluent students. That’s because they can average school spending, hiding the fact that senior teachers have transferred to the lowest-stress schools while the tough schools are staffed with newbies. Riordan’s plan could make it possible for inner-city principals to spend more to hire experienced teachers — or use the extra money for other purposes.
It will take a real super hero to get direct funding passed.