Lack Of Money Isn’t California’s Problem

California’s rate of education spending continues its rapid escalation but expected increases in performance remain lagging. While taxpayers are doing their job, politicians, education bureaucrats, and teacher unions aren’t doing theirs.

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The 40-year-old myth that Proposition 13 gutted education spending was never true to begin with, despite the progressive narrative, but now it has been exposed as utter fantasy. According to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics, in inflation-adjusted constant dollars, per-pupil spending in California for public elementary and secondary schools rose from $5,675 in 1969-70, to $7,377 in 1979-80, to $9,121 in 1989-90. For 2017-18, the most recent year for which statistics are available, per-pupil spending for K-12 public schools was $13,129, the highest ever.

As Reason Foundation’s Christian Barnard highlighted recently in these pages, “inflation-adjusted education spending in California grew by a massive 44.03% between 2013 and 2019 — the fastest growth among any state in the nation including the District of Columbia during that period.” That’s made us 17th in the nation in per-pupil K-12 spending.

So no, California’s schools aren’t hurting for cash as the foes of Prop. 13 would like you to believe. What California’s schools are hurting for is accountability. And as two recent news items show, it starts at the top.

One example is a story reported by POLITICO about the questionable hiring of Daniel Lee, California’s first superintendent of equity. The state job, which pays a salary of up to $179,832, originated as a foundation-funded position paid for by a $700,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. In July 2020, following the protests over the death of George Floyd, Lee went on the state payroll as a deputy superintendent for the California Department of Education. The purpose of the hire was to ensure the success of children of color in California.

The only problem was that Lee lives and works in Pennsylvania. Politico reported that he “owns a Pennsylvania-based psychology firm and is president of the New Jersey Psychological Association’s executive board,” but his resume shows “no prior experience in California or relationships with school districts in the state.”

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Comments

  1. I voted for Prop 13 and what I remember most is how the political class at all levels punished the citizens by cutting only those things that would hurt the voters the most. Cuts to police and fire, libraries, road maintenance, etc. Kommiefornia is the perfect example of one political class addicted to spending other peoples money. Teachers in Kommiefornia have it damn good. I know for a fact that at least in Imperial County a teacher can retire at 60 after 30 to 35 years of service with a pension of $5,000 to *$8,000 a month or more plus health benefits. They are generally required to go on Medicare at 65 but in many cases the school benefits supplement Medicare.

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