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Statement by John Affeldt on Governor Newsom’s State of the State Education Priorities
On the occasion of Governor Gavin Newsom’s first State of the State address, Public Advocates is issuing the following statement commenting on the Governor’s remarks on public education. Quotes from the statement are to be attributed to John Affeldt, Public Advocates Managing Attorney for Education.
On funding for California’s public schools:
We are thrilled to have a governor finally willing to have the long overdue conversation about sufficient funding for our public schools. The Local Control Funding Formula has made school funding much more equitable but did not address funding adequacy. Despite being the world’s fifth largest economy, California drags along the bottom of states in per pupil expenditures and has fewer adults per student ratios than all but two other states. From Los Angeles to Oakland to Sacramento, our schools are having to choose unfairly between paying teachers living wages, or delivering core services like reasonable class sizes, nurses, counselors and librarians or paying extra attention to students with the greatest needs. These are necessities our public schools must provide to close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps, and which can be met by using the resources our wealthy state possesses. We have offered thoughts for reaching funding adequacy over the years, most recently in an October EdSource op-ed, and we look forward to being part of the urgent conversation on how to fully and fairly fund our schools.
On the appointment of Linda Darling-Hammond to the State Board of Education:
Governor Newsom could not have made a better appointment to the State Board of Education than Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond. Dr. Darling-Hammond is the foremost authority on equity and teacher quality in our public schools in the country. More than a brilliant academic she also has shown herself an astute policymaker and public administrator in her time advising the Obama Campaign, Governor Brown and serving as Chair of the state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing for the past six years. We look forward to working with Dr. Darling-Hammond on the State Board and to seeing her influence that body to make even greater strides to improve the educational system for all California students.
On plans to increase accountability and transparency in public education, including charter schools:
We also applaud Governor Newsom’s proposal to increase accountability and transparency in public education. For starters, we need a much clearer picture of how $6 billion in supplemental and concentration dollars for high-need students are being spent by districts and schools. Murkiness in charter spending is even worse. In August 2018, Public Advocates published the first study of how well charter schools are performing in terms of being transparent and accountable for public dollars in their required Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP). We found a shocking lack of public accountability for hundreds of millions of dollars reviewed in the sample. A third of charters failed to even present an LCAP at all. Of those that did, only $15.8 million out of $48.6 million dollars supposed to be dedicated to low-income, English learner and foster students were identified as having been expended and none of those dollars were actually properly justified as having been lawfully spent to serve high need students. We look forward to working with the Administration to further strengthen charter school accountability.
Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice. www.publicadvocates.org