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Posted on September 8 at 7:54 p.m.
Dr. Dan made reference to Prop 30, as if that will somehow prove to be a magic elixir for our public schools. Let's review a couple of facts that some people might not be aware of. Prop 30 does not ensure there will be additional revenues for education. All revenues go into the general fund, where approximately 40% of the money will be used for education. As Botany alluded to, with the passage of Prop 30, Ca will have the highest income and sales taxes for the entire nation. There are many economists who think the revenue projections under Prop 30 are wildly exaggerated. Since the state has missed their revenue projections by a wide margin for the last five years, I would not necessarily assume it won't happen again.
Also, the Calstrs pension fund has a $65 billion unfunded liability. They have already requested the state and the school districts to increase their pension contributions by $3.5 billion for next year. Interestingly, the projected revenue increase from Prop 30 (assuming the revenue projection is accurate) is equal to the additional contributions that must be paid next year.
BTW, in a previous comment I said, "If you go back another few years, the District had over 1000 fewer students". I meant to say, "1000 more students".
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Posted on September 7 at 7:47 p.m.
In a previous comment, I meant to say, "a couple hundred more employees".
Posted on September 7 at 7:41 p.m.
There have been numerous studies showing that increased spending without reforms has not gotten us all that much. Education spending in Ca. since 1980 has increased by 450%, exceeding the cost of living. However, during that period, student test scores and other academic data indicate that student academic achievement has declined in all the core subjects.
Posted on September 7 at 7:25 p.m.
EastBeach, let's look at the numbers to decipher the school budget. In 2011-12, the overall revenues for the SB Unified Schools were $117 million. Enrollment for the year was 13,245 students. In 2008-9, revenue was also $117 million, however, enrollment was 13,835, approximately 600 students more than 2011-12. So the per pupil spending actually increased by $377 per student in 2011-12. If you go back another few years, the District had over 1000 fewer students, and the per pupil spending was even less.
Let's look at it another way. The overall educational budget in Ca., including all sources of money, is around $60 billion. There are approximately 6 million students in Ca. Almost $1,300 per student stays in Sacramento and never finds it way to the District.
Have you ever looked at the employee directory of the County Education Office? The County Superintendent has no line authority for any school in the county, and yet this office has over 100 administrators and a couple more hundred employees. Seem a little top heavy?
School financing is very complicated and convoluted, but I can assure you there is more money wasted on bureaucracy, unnecessary programs and ludicrous federal and state mandates.
Posted on September 7 at 2:12 p.m.
"but your kids may have jobs"
Shira, I don't mean to dismiss your concerns, but my focus is to ensure that all kids that attend our public schools have the requisite skills to get good jobs and become productive members of our society.
Posted on September 7 at 3:18 a.m.
Oh Oh, I forgot to include a question mark in my previous comment.
Posted on September 7 at 3:08 a.m.
BTW, would you feel better if I used the word "completing" rather than "graduating".
Posted on September 7 at 2:59 a.m.
SezMe, no I mean graduating. I didn't limit it to four year colleges. In the subsequent statement, I said that less than one third of the high school graduates make it as far as two years. I am also including community colleges.
Posted on September 6 at 7:51 p.m.
Although it is true that I want to reform the tenure and seniority rules, this piece oversimplifies my positions on public education. I spoke with the reporter for two hours regarding numerous important issues affecting our schools today.
If anyone took the time to look at the numbers, they would conclude that our schools are in crisis. There are many grades in our SB elementary schools and classes in the high schools where at least 50% of the students are less than proficient in math and/or English. Less than 20% of the kids who graduate our high schools are graduating 4 year colleges. Only around 1/3 of the kids make it as far as 2 years. Almost 90% of the students who attend community colleges require remedial classes in English and/or math.
Many people erroneously conclude that if only the schools had more money, we could solve all these problems. There have been many studies that compared school districts with similar socioeconomic profiles and have concluded that per pupil spending is not correlated to student academic outcomes. Throwing more money at the schools without necessary reforms will not significantly improve the poor performance we are getting.
A student has a three times greater chance of succeeding in school if he/she has a great teacher. Until recently, there had been only one teacher in the Santa Barbara District the last five years who has been dismissed for poor performance. Tenured and credentialed teachers only had to be evaluated once every five years. 100% of all teachers received satisfactory grades. The system is a joke, although as another article in this edition of the paper pointed out, Dr. Cash is beginning to change this.
We need a comprehensive system to recruit, train, evaluate and retain the very best teachers. Although the article suggested I wanted a quantifiable evaluation system, it has to be far more comprehensive than just relying upon test scores. It also needs to take into account frequent unannounced observations of teachers as well as parent and student feedback. Teachers who are not effective should be given a chance to improve, and if that is not successful, they should be dismissed.
Interestingly, most of the research has suggested that hiring the right people is the critical part of a teacher recruitment system. Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. It requires certain personality characteristics, such has enthusiasm, perseverance, great interpersonal skills, commitment to children, leadership skills and an optimistic, no-excuse can-do attitude. A great teacher can make a child believe in his own ability to succeed in school. Sometimes, it might be the first adult in that child's life that demonstrated a belief in him or her.
Anyway, I could go on but this is not the forum for that. I know some of my positions are not popular with certain constituencies, but nobody can deny that I care very deeply about improving our public schools for all children.
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