Academically, California ranks 47th out of 50 states on national tests. One-third of its students attend overcrowded or disintegrating schools, and less than half its school districts require their teachers to hold specialized credentials in the subject area taught.
Compared to similar states, California does just as poorly.
When such family conditions as poverty and English language deficiencies were factored into the national results, California scored dead last in reading, 46th in math. Texas, with a similarly large and diverse student population and about the same spending level, came in first on reading and fourth in math.
California spends much less per student than some other big states: In 2001, California spent $7,434 per student while New York and New Jersey spent more than $11,000. “The report was clear — we’ve under-funded schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. Yet Texas seems to do a lot better with similar students and similar funding. Well, the cost of living is higher in California, pushing up salaries.