Californians want to spend more money on education but have no idea how much the state spends already, writes Jill Stewart in the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to the NCES, California spent $7,552 per student in 2002-03. The national median was $7,574. We’re $22 short, so no wonder our kids are near the bottom in math and reading! Fresher NEA data mirrors the NCES data, showing in its “Rankings & Estimates” report that California in 2003-04 was in the exact middle, ranked 25th, and spending $7,692 per pupil. California voters imagine themselves to be well-informed. The PPIC (Public Policy Institute of California) poll says, “72 percent believe voters should make decisions about the budget and governmental reforms rather than abdicate that responsibility to the governor and Legislature … But when it comes to the budget, how much knowledge do residents bring to the table? Only 29 percent of Californians can identify the top category for state spending (K-12 education).”
California has a high cost of living, which means teachers must be paid more than in Iowa, and a higher percentage of educationally needy students,unlike low-spending Utah. Unlike Stewart, I don’t think average spending means California necessarily is spending enough. But the state is spending considerably more in real dollars than in the “good old days.”