Spend smarter

More spending won’t fix California schools unless the system is changed, concludes Getting Down to Facts, a megastudy of California schools coordinated by Stanford. From the Sacramento Bee:

A massive and much-anticipated study by Stanford researchers says that the state’s education system is fundamentally broken and that additional funding alone won’t assure that students learn to read, write and calculate at grade-level.

Systemic reform, in addition to more money, is necessary in order for all students to achieve the academic expectations California has set for its 6.3 million public school students, researchers found. Those changes should cover everything from how the state directs money to districts to how it collects data on student performance to what training it requires of teachers and the ability of principals to hire and fire school staff, the report says.

The report calls for targeting funds to high-need students, notes the San Francisco Chronicle.

The study appears to support the idea that children with higher needs should attract more education dollars to a school or district. Traditionally, that approach is known as the “weighted student formula.”

AP quotes educators who estimate it would cost $23 billion to $32 billion on top of the state’s current $66 billion school budget, to educate all students to the state’s goals.

Update: Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee has more.

In related news, some 45 percent of new students at California State University campuses require remedial English; nearly 40 percent must take remedial math, according to a CSU report. In 1996, the CSU trustees set a goal for reducing remediation, but progress hit a plateau four years ago. CSU admits students who rank in the top third of the graduating class statewide. Typically, applicants have a B average or better in college-prep classes.

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Comments

  1. Scott Lewis says:

    BULL! As a California educator in a rural high school my blood boils when I hear the cry of “MORE MONEY!” Money will not fix the issue. It takes hard work and holding students accountable for their inactions that will and is being shown to make the difference. Does anyone wonder why so many charter schools are successful? For many of them it is a story of not accepting mediocrity. Some will say they get to pick and choose students. That may be true to a point. But we hear story after story after story of successful school settings that cater to so called troubled or special needs students.

    I firmly believe that it is our continued acceptance of less then adequate teachers to meet ever more stringent standards that is causing much of our current issue. Like so many other parts of our lives we think that more money will magically fix the issue. It only takes one more computer, one more calculator, more money for after school teachers, and more money for in class tutors etc. It is never enough and never will be enough! When we stop accepting excuses from parents and the teacher who had the students before us and accept responsibility for the career we have chosen (and EVERYTHING that entails) then we will be successful.

  2. Mark Roulo says:

    AP quotes educators who estimate it would cost $23 billion to $32 billion on top of the state’s current $66 billion school budget, to educate all students to the state’s goals.

    This is a very sad number. California currently spends
    about $10K per student per year educating public K-12 students
    (NOTE: The districts only see about $7500 of this, so if
    you see smaller numbers reported, be aware that there is a
    difference between the money that the state spends and the
    money that arrives at the districts).

    For a classroom of 20 students, this works out to $200K per
    year (and for a classroom of 25 students, this works out
    to $250K…) Average teacher salary is about $58K and benefits
    are an additional 18% (at my district), so the teachers
    are getting $68K of the $200K-$250K per room (I assume on
    teacher per room, on average).

    If I read this correctly, the educators believe that we need
    to spend somewhere between $13K – $15K per student (An additional
    $60K per current classroom or more) to provide an acceptable
    education.

    Does anyone really believe that if the money shows up (I have
    no idea from where), we’ll actually stop hearing that the problem
    is funding? And that the students will actually be educated
    to the specified level?

    I’d actually be willing to pony up the extra money in taxes
    *IF* the desired education results were delivered. But I’d
    want my money back if they weren’t (and I’d want external
    testing/validation … John Cannell’s Lake Wobegon report
    being at the top of my mind).

    -Mark Roulo

  3. wayne martin says:

    > I’d actually be willing to pony up the extra money in taxes
    > *IF* the desired education results were delivered

    Be careful what you wish for. One of the estimates from this study was that it would take $1.5T a year to properly fund California schools. Now, the GDP of California is just around $1.5T a year now—meaning that it would take 100% taxation for this much money to be generated. Are you really willing to pay 100% for “education”—keeping nothing for yourself?

  4. Mark Roulo says:

    Are you really willing to pay 100% for “education”—keeping nothing for yourself?

    No. I would be willing to pony up the extra ~$32B, though.
    *IF* we actually got what was promised. And *IF* we got the
    money back if the promised education results didn’t arrive.

    -Mark R.

  5. wayne martin says:

    > No. I would be willing to pony up the extra ~$32B

    Why .. anyone who looks at school spending quickly realizes that between Class Size Reduction, Davis-Bacon, and any number of other Labor Union induced constrains on school districts, that the current amount is more than enough. Not to mention the 1.5 to 2M children of illegal immigrants.

    Why are you willing to increase the spending by roughly 3/5s when the current amount could be spent more intelligently?

  6. Mark Roulo says:

    Why are you willing to increase the spending by roughly 3/5s when the current amount could be spent more intelligently?

    Because the money *WON’T* be spent more intelligently, and I’d like an educated citizenry. I’m willing to pay some extra ransom money to get that educated citizenry (again, *IF* the thing I want is delivered).

    I provided the numbers I did because I think that they show that we are spending enough. But … we still don’t seem to be getting much for the money. I am willing to pay “too much” IF we actually get a reasonable deliverable.

    I’m not hoping, of course …

    -Mark R

  7. wayne martin says:

    Here’s a link to a list of the so-called studies:

    Institute For Research on Education Policy & Practice/School Funding Studies:
    http://irepp.stanford.edu/projects/cafinance.htm

    I doubt very many people will be able to read, much less critique this volume of material. However, it won’t be more than one or two election cycles before the teachers’ unions will have ballot initiatives which will be pushing additional funding at every level of the education system.

    This is a black hole that will gobble everything up in its path.

  8. Mark Roulo, I understand your point — that perhaps in an inefficient system, over-spending enough might render an acceptable result — but I must agree with Wayne Martin on this one. With not enough of the education dollars being utilized for effective instruction I have no confidence that any additional funds will change that. Nor should anyone.

    Class-size reduction for example could be achieved by severely reducing the number of “coaches” and other non-teaching teachers.

    Wayne, regarding your reference to the amount spent to educate the children of “illegal immigrants,” what is your point?

    That schools could do a better job if they refused to educate those children?
    That schools ought to make such discriminations?

  9. Mark Roulo says:

    With not enough of the education dollars being utilized for effective instruction I have no confidence that any additional funds will change that.

    I don’t either. That is why I kept writing out capital
    IF 🙂

    I would be willing to pony up the money, though (even though
    I think California is spending enough as is …) to get
    the result I want. If I could get that result. The St. Louis
    spending disaster in the 1990s suggests that paying more to
    get good results isn’t one of my choices, though.

    -Mark R.

  10. wayne martin says:

    > Wayne, regarding your reference to the amount
    > spent to educate the children of “illegal immigrants,”
    > what is your point?

    There are between 11M and 20M “illegals” in the US. A goodly number are here in the California. The wrongly-decided Plyer vs Doe (US Supreme Court, 1982) required that “government” provide free education to every child who resides in the US—irrespective of citizenship.

    Here in California, we spend at least $10,000 per child on public education (K-12). There are about 6.5M kids in the system, over which 1.5-2M are thought to be illegal. (Note—here in the US, the State-based can not determine who is a citizen and who is not, based on the ruling of 9 men dressed in black.)

    Based on these numbers, the California citizens are funding the education of (primarily Mexican) children who would not be ordinarily be in the country if the US Government were to attend to the matter of border control, as is its intended role. This cost of educating these kids comes to about $20B yearly (and then some when teacher pensions are added in.). While it may be arguable that if these kids weren’t here, this money would not be allocated to “education”. If these kids weren’t I the system, most of this money would be available for education (as well as other things). It’s an open question if the State would increase the $10K per student currently being spent, but it’s an option.

    Then, there is the issue of cultural assimilation. The stats show that these kids aren’t learning like their “American” peers. Any number of sources will vouch for the fact that their parents not only don’t speak English—they also don’t speak Spanish (at least very well). The high school graduation rate in Mexico is about 28%–although the literacy rate is much higher. There simply isn’t the commitment to “education” in the parents who have moved into this country illegally as those who were born here and educated under the Euro-Centric model.

    So, the California schools are left with essentially four major ethnic groups (Caucasian, Black, Asian, Latino) and about 60 major/minor language groups to deal with. Not a very good formula for success, under the best of conditions.

    California citizens should not have to educate children of neighboring/foreign countries. There simply isn’t enough money in the world. Between the never-ending demands for “more” by people in the education Industry, the brazen demands for adequate education for Mexican children in US schools by the Mexican President, and activist groups that want to return these kids to Spanish-language instruction, the schools in California can not ever provide adequate education unless the parents are involved (as we see in all of the upscale communities).

    So What Do We Do?

    For a start—school districts have to demand that Plyer vs Doe be re-decided. This won’t be easy—considering the “Stare Decisis” mindset of the Supremes. The Federal Government is going to have to do something about the Border, as well as help to fund the education of those who are here illegally. Simply converting their status to US Citizenship with an Act of Congress isn’t going to work, as this will simply increase the impetus for millions more to come. (A recent survey publish in a Mexican newspaper suggests that up to 40% of Mexicans would move to the US if they could.)

    People are also going to have to get off the fence and become involved.

  11. Do you believe that the “education industry” wants these children to be part of the system in order to increase the numbers?

    Do you distinguish between the children of the greencardless and the students who themselves have no legal status in this country?

    What if Plyer Vs Doe were reversed?
    What happens to those children who would lose their right to a public education? Assuming that most could not afford a private one…. We would have to choose between massive deportation and creating a class of uneducated — probably disaffected — young people…. (One might assume that most of these children are already that but my own observations contradict that; many of my best students are these very children, hard-working, bright and, thanks to their free education at our expense, knowledgable and articulate)….

    I suppose the long term intent would be to disuade people from sneaking across the border by making it less attractive but in the short run, what would we do?

  12. Silicon Valley Dad says:

    The challenges confronting California’s competitiveness and technological leadership cannot be overcome by throwing money at the disinterested. That policy has been tried for the last 25 years and failed. Graduation rates and our exit exam are vulnerable to academic dilution from political pressure and soon will no longer predict student mathematical and science competency.

    Frankly, for California parents like myself and many others, it is too late. With two talented children whose PSAT scores are 93.3 and 98, my wife and I are preparing our children to leave for those countries who recognize the benefits their talents bring.

  13. wayne martin says:

    > Do you believe that the “education industry”
    > wants these children to be part of the system
    > in order to increase the numbers?

    Yes .. and it’s a little more complicated than that. California is seeing a noticeable drop in the head count of enrolled students at the moment. Some of that drop is because people are moving out-of-state to escape a number of problems which they feel can not be solved making the quality of life less desirable than elsewhere. These dips are in areas when illegal immigration is not making up the difference.
    What also appears to be the case is that most people in the Education Industry seem more interested in teaching than being involved directly in the politics of immigration. Many teachers don’t seem to see the damage to having millions of undocumented workers in the country.

    > Do you distinguish between the children of the
    > greencardless and the students who themselves
    > have no legal status in this country?

    Not certain why this distinction would be important. The point that is being presented here is that at $10K (minimum), educating millions of kids who should not be here has immense financial implications on the State, the school system, the school systems ability to perform, and the taxpayers.

    > What if Plyer Vs Doe were reversed?
    > What happens to those children who would
    > lose their right to a public education?

    This was the premise of Prop.87, passed some time back but overturned in the courts. The matter of denying children an education seemed difficult for many to deal with. However, the goal of the Proposition was to provide a less friendly environment for people who came here illegally. Encouraging people here illegally to return home so that their kids could be educated in their own country was doubtless the intention of the Prop.

    > Assuming that most could not afford a private one….
    > We would have to choose between massive deportation

    Mass deportations (of up to 20M people) has been rejected by just about everyone. However, reducing the comfort level so that people return home (or go somewhere else) is not so difficult to propse. (Some immigrants from India, for instance, are packing up and returning home, since the cost of living is much less, the outsourcing of jobs is creating opportunities that didn’t exist in the past, and they don’t have to assimilate into a new culture.)

    > and creating a class of uneducated — probably disaffected —
    > young people….

    This is happening already. There was a report in the paper the other day that Latino gangs in the LA Basin number about 40,000 youths. The LA police—about 9,000. The LA government is beginning to ask for outside help to deal with the gang problem. Dropout rates are 50% in LA (maybe even more in some districts).

    So—the worst case scenario is the norm already in LA.

    > (One might assume that most of these children are already that
    > but my own observations contradict that; many of my best
    > students are these very children, hard-working, bright and,
    > thanks to their free education at our expense, knowledgable
    > and articulate)….

    And these kids would not be the same in their own country?

    > And they would not have been the same in their own home country?
    > I suppose the long term intent would be to disuade people
    > from sneaking across the border by making it less attractive
    > but in the short run, what would we do?

    Overturn Plyer vs Doe. Modify Federal/State laws that convey US citizenship on children born in the US of non-resident parents. Track non-residents in the school system. Bill the home countries for the education of non-resident children. Tax employers of undocumented workers. (The IRS claims that there are about 9M SSANs which are duplicates. This means that in addition to illegally crossing the boarder, these 9M people have engaged in identify fraud. The IRS could pass these names and employers off to the States, which could then pass laws allowing the States to tax these employers based on the number of undocumented workers that they are employing. This money would be shared with the state agencies which deal with providing services for such people. Undocumented workers could also be taxed for social services they consume. Again, the IRS knows who these people are (or at least where they work).

  14. Thanks for your well-reasoned and detailed response, Wayne–

    —-What also appears to be the case is that most people in the Education Industry seem more interested in teaching than being involved directly in the politics of immigration.

    Guilty as charged. Send a child to my classroom and I will do everything I can to give him or her the best possible education.

    —-Many teachers don’t seem to see the damage to having millions of undocumented workers in the country.

    Some of my colleagues have views on illegal immigration that seem quite similar to yours — but they still do their best to teach their students regardless of their status. Other colleauges of mine believe that the problem is exaggerated and that so-called “illegals” are being scapegoated, much the way that my grandparents (Jews from Eastern Europe) and the grandparents of my wife (from Ireland) were blamed for social and economic problems. They were legal immigrants but nevertheless dispised and viewed as a burden; an early 20th Century New York Times editorial used this phrase to sum up one view of the newest Americans: “Europe has vomited.”

    ——There was a report in the paper the other day that Latino gangs in the LA Basin number about 40,000 youths. The LA police—about 9,000. The LA government is beginning to ask for outside help to deal with the gang problem. Dropout rates are 50% in LA (maybe even more in some districts).

    Did the report specify what percentage of those “Latino gangs” were citizens? The LA Gang problem goes back to the 1940s. My own experience with gang members — in and out of my school — is that they are more likely to have been born here. Some of them inherited gang membership from fathers and uncles. But, yes, I have encountered cholos (the Spanish word for gangster) who were from Mexico and El Salvador and Guatemala, though they are the exception. Kicking undocumented aliens out of school will probably increase that percentage.

    As to whether my immigrant students would be the same (bright, artuculate, etc.) in their country, that is a great question.

    I don’t know. That is a good question. I wish I could answer it.

    But I will say this: nobody has to pay them to take the AP exam and if they can’t get a fee waiver they will pay for it themselves from their minimum wage jobs.

  15. the report is extremely upfront that more money spent the same way will fail.

    “It is clear, for example, that solely directing more money into the
    current system will not dramatically improve student achievement and will meet neither expectations nor needs. What matters most are the ways in which the available resources and any new resources are used. The studies make clear that California’s education system is not making the most efficient use of its current resources.”
    — Overview p4.

  16. Ironically, I think wealthy suburban schools are the final word in the limitations of the more-money fix for public education.

    I mentioned on another thread that my schools has a per pupil spending level of $19,000/year and yet our middle school principal is making noises about not meeting AYP.

    Our very small population of disadvantaged students probably consume more than $19,000/yr, because — surprise! — they are nearly all “receiving services” of some kind.

    So….with all this money, with a staff of 100% certified teachers, some of whom earn 6 figures a year, we apparently can’t teach disadvantaged students.

    If their parents could afford to hire tutors, I’m sure we’d be doing a bang-up job.

  17. wayne martin says:

    http://www.whiteplainscnr.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5510

    In spending per student however, White Plains budget $165.8 Million outspends its four independent city rivals, by expending $23, 490 per student. New Rochelle with the Number 3 budget in the state (at $196M) spends $17,787 per pupil. Mount Vernon spends $16,025 per student. Peekskill, $19,883. Port Chester is not a city, but is compared to White Plains in demographic makeup and spends $15,046 per student while consistently outperforming White Plains in the ELA State Assessments. Peekskill Spends $19,883 per student. Yonkers with the biggest budget – but not an independent district – spends $17,000 per student.

    White Plains spends more per student than New Ro, Port Chester, Mount Vernon, and Peekskill and performs about even with New Ro on the ELA 8th Grade Assessments, and about 10 percentage points behind Port Chester which passed 68% of its 8th graders on the ELA while White Plains passed 53% in 2004-05.
    —-

    Someone in NY might want to help us understand what the ELA is, and if having 53% of 8th graders pass the ELA while spending $23,000+ per student is a good thing? How much should White Plains spend to achieve 80%?

  18. ELA stands for English Language Arts. In California, students are tested on reading, language (grammar, sentence structure) and spelling.

  19. wayne martin says:

    > In the past, CSU had asked a small number of students
    > who did not achieve proficiency within one year of
    > college to transfer to community college to complete
    > their remediation. But CSU may end that practice because
    > many students were apparently not enrolling in community
    > colleges and few returned to CSU a year after being
    > disenrolled.

    So what does this mean? Is the CSU System going to let these kids stay in school and flunk out, or socially promote them like the public schools did so that they can “keep their numbers up”?