By CSBA President Dr. Emma Turner
As I reflect on my year as CSBA President, I want to express what an honor it has been to represent California’s largest body of democratically elected public officials and the more than 6.2 million children that we fight for every day. This has been an eventful year in our state and our association’s history. The year began with a new governor who incorporated the voices of district and county board members into some of his first actions by including pension relief for school districts in his inaugural budget proposal and signing a charter school transparency measure for which CSBA had long advocated. In May, CSBA joined the California Teachers Association and other education partners for a momentous rally on the steps of the Capitol Building, working together to call on the Legislature for the Full and Fair FundingSM of California’s public schools.
And just last month, a coalition led by CSBA, the Association of California School Administrators and the Community College League of California submitted language to the Attorney General’s Office for the Full and Fair Funding: Public School Progress, Prosperity, and Accountability Act. Although this is just the latest milestone on a long and winding road, it brings our Full and Fair Funding initiative a step closer to providing the resources that will help every student reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances. The measure would generate $15 billion annually to support learning in the state’s K-12 public schools and community colleges and raise California from 38th nationally in school funding to the national average.
Given its wealth and the high needs of its student population, California’s investment in schools should be among the nation’s highest. Instead, the top 10 states spend $7,000 more per student than California does. Even the average state invests almost $2,500 more per student than California. If California supported schools at simply the national average, funding would increase by nearly $2,500 per average daily attendance, adjusted for cost-of-living — that’s an additional $62,000 for a classroom of 25 students and more than $1.2 million for a school with 500 students.
The bottom line is that increased funding would help public schools provide all students with the basic components of a high-quality education. And let’s remember, it would take $15 billion annually just to get California to the national average in per-pupil funding. This is not a lofty goal — it is imperative in order to restore California’s legacy as the home of innovation and opportunity.
CSBA will continue to engage California lawmakers to see if we can find a legislative solution to the chronic underfunding of the state’s public schools. Whether legal, legislative or electoral, we will explore every avenue and exhaust every possibility to obtain the funding needed to provide all California students with a high-quality education.
In parting, I want to thank each and every one of you for your advocacy on behalf of California’s students. We are raising the leaders of the future and our collective voices can influence the state to reprioritize education, end four decades of underinvestment and provide Full and Fair Funding for every California public school student.