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Superintendent: 'The State has Failed' its Students

In his "statement of urgency'' posted on the district website, SPUSD Superintendent Joel Shapiro outlined the dire financial situation for public education, and explained what schools will lose if Prop 30 fails.

From Joel Shapiro, originally posted on the South Pasadena Unified School District's website: 

The concept of a free and public education is one of our nation’s most enduring values, and it is the reason why our country has excelled in so many arenas. Education is a fundamental right of every child. California’s Constitution requires a school system that prepares students to become informed citizens and productive members of society.

Over the last several years, because of a serious economic recession, most states throughout the U.S. have steadily reduced funding for public schools. Although this is a national problem, it is a crisis of extreme gravity in California. Fifty years ago, California was able to boast a public education system that was second to none. More than 30 years ago, after the passage of Proposition 13, per-pupil funding in California slowly began to erode. When Proposition 98 was enacted, public school districts were given a guarantee that K-12 public education would receive a minimum of 40% of the state’s general fund budget. However, over the past decade various manipulations of Proposition 98 guarantees have resulted in public education receiving a disproportionate share of funding cuts when state revenues have experienced a shortfall. The manipulation and suspension of Proposition 98, along with California’s shrinking revenues over the past four years, have brought about an untenable situation. California’s per-pupil funding is now 47 out of the 50 states. Per-pupil funding in California is now more than two thousand, five hundred dollars below the national average, and this disparity continues to grow each year. In fact, if Proposition 30 does not pass in November, this gap will grow by about an additional $460.

School districts in California have worked tirelessly to serve the needs of all pupils despite the staggering loss of resources that they have faced. However, with many years of reduced funding, California now has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest average class sizes in the nation. Similarly, California schools rank last in the nation in the number of librarians per student and close to last in the number of counselors and administrators per student.

The State’s unsound, unstable and insufficient school finance system is not aligned with mandated educational requirements or with the State’s rigorous program of standards and accountability. The amount of funding provided to education is not enough to prepare students to meet the State’s required standards, or to prepare them to meet the demands of 21 st century jobs.

The State has failed in its obligation to provide the resources necessary to enable our students to compete on national or international levels. Measures of academic achievement have shown that California’s inadequate system of educational funding has resulted in an achievement gap between California students and those throughout the nation. Furthermore, the current funding system causes unequal learning opportunities within our state.

California’s broken system of educational funding has far-reaching consequences. Inadequate funding for education is clearly related to higher rates of crime and poverty, as well as a greater need for a variety of social services. Money that is not spent to educate today’s children will be spent at a much higher rate in the future on job training programs, social welfare programs, and prisons. It is not only practical for our state to spend the money needed for high-quality education for all students; it is also a moral imperative.

It is absolutely essential that our elected officials solve the problem of a public education system that is disastrously underfunded. Revenue enhancement measures will undoubtedly be necessary. It is inexcusable to hand this problem to the citizens of California, asking them to determine whether they will choose to make education funding a priority by passing a ballot initiative – especially since 70% of the voters do not currently have students in our K-12 public schools. It is also inexcusable to leave the solution to communities through local revenue measures. In the absence of leadership by elected officials, voters will have to step in; however, this is not an acceptable long-term solution.

It is not an option for schools to continue to cut services to our students. Teachers and administrators have already been stretched beyond a reasonable limit. Students have already been the victims of a dysfunctional funding system, and this cannot continue. The future of our state, nation and the entire global community is at stake.

Given the unwillingness of our elected officials to address this funding crisis, voters will have the opportunity to vote for two funding measures on the November 6th ballot. Both Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 provide funding for public schools. They do so through different types of taxes and different funding mechanisms. The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education has passed a resolution to support both of these tax initiatives. The threshold for passing is a simple majority. If both propositions pass, the one that receives the most votes will prevail.

Proposition 30 will maintain the current level of per-pupil state funding, with money going into the State’s general fund and distributed to school districts in the current manner. If Proposition 30 does not pass, the mid-year cut to our school district will be about $2,000,000, and the District will lose that funding in future years as well. In the current year, employees would take four furlough days, and the school year for students would be reduced by two days. Furlough days beyond the current year have not been negotiated with employee groups.

Proposition 38 would provide funding to each school outside of the current State allocation formula. If Proposition 38 does not pass, it would not decrease funding in the current year or future years, and it would not result in furlough days or a shortened year for students. If Proposition 38 passes, it will add funds to schools for several years.

Voters have been put in a difficult position, being asked to choose between competing ballot measures to support California’s public schools. For this reason, and because our schools are in desperate need of funds, the Board of Education has chosen to support Propositions 30 and 38. California voters will determine the future of our schools.

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Gregory Brittain November 03, 2012 at 09:05 AM
(http://californiabudgetbites.org/2011/01/ says not increasing taxes will require cutting $930 per student [out of $11,405 per student. http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2011/calfacts/calfacts_010511.aspx (p.13)]. That is 8.15%. Not the end of the world. Families and businesses base their spending on the money available and prioritize accordingly. How many families and businesses have and to reduce their spending by 8% or more? Brown and the Dems passed a budget that cuts education spending if the voters to not pass the tax increase. They can make other choices. The Dems could probably find other budget reductions if they wanted to such as HSR and CA's welfare program that has 33% of the nation's welfare recipients with 12% of the nation’s population. Or perhaps state employee compensation that increased three times as fast as the per capita personal income of all Californians. http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/10/alarming-compensation-trends-for-state-workers/ Or cut benefits for illegal immigrants. Or deal with why it costs ~3X more per inmate in CA than TX. Government is never expected to be efficient or effective.
Gregory Brittain November 03, 2012 at 09:05 AM
In deciding how to vote on Props 30, 32, and 38 [and whether to vote for Dems] please consider: “Adjusted for inflation, California’s government spending increased 42 percent per capita from 2000 to 2010.” http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/10/reason-rupe-poll-california-voters-moving-towards-wisconsin-like-government-reforms/ "The study, conducted by the Center for Government Analysis (CGA), found that total expenditures by the State of California to finance salaries and pension benefits for State workers grew three times as fast as the per capita personal income of all Californians." http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/10/alarming-compensation-trends-for-state-workers/ “CA public school teachers the highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading.” http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2011/calfacts/calfacts_010511.aspx page 36” Please see http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/09/breaking-bad-california-vs-the-other-states/ CA pays ~ 3X more per inmate as TX, but CA is releasing criminals back onto the street. http://reason.org/news/show/private-prisons-save-california-bil But, of course, it’s all for the kids.
Gregory Brittain November 03, 2012 at 09:07 AM
To the proponents and defenders of the government run education system, please explain the following chart showing per student education spending in government run schools 1919-2007 adjusted for inflation. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/tables/dt09_182.asp The total per student education spending in government run schools in constant 2007-2008 dollars was: 1949-1950 $2377 1959-1960 $3394 1969-1970 $5593 1979-1980 $6792 1989-1990 $9248 1999-2000 $10,741 2006-2007 $12,463 Inflation adjusted education spending has ~quadrupled since 1960 and more than doubled since 1970. And what happened to the quality of government run education over that time? California currently spent > $11,405 per student in 2011. http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2011/calfacts/calfacts_010511.aspx (p. 13) If you gave them K-12 Scholarships for $11,000 each, you would schools lined up at their doors to provide education. There is nothing like competition to improve quality and reduce cost. There is certainly no financial incentive for any teacher or employee of the government schools, or for the government run school system to do a good job.
Gregory Brittain November 03, 2012 at 09:09 AM
Let’s also review higher ed spending. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober_2011/features/administrators_ate_my_tuition031641.php Some highlights: “Since 1980, inflation- adjusted tuition at public universities has tripled; at private universities it has more than doubled.” Are the universities spending the additional money in ways that make college education better, never mind 3X better? “Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325 billion per year.” “Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the administrator-per-student ratio. In 1975, colleges employed one administrator for every eighty-four students and one professional staffer—admissions officers, information technology specialists, and the like—for every fifty students. By 2005, the administrator-to-student ratio had dropped to one administrator for every sixty-eight students while the ratio of professional staffers had dropped to one for every twenty-one students.” The number of administrators at the UC and CSU systems has grown by 212% since 1993. http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/05/can-california-be-fixed/ In the private sector, we have to prioritize how to spend our money.
Gregory Brittain November 03, 2012 at 09:11 AM
Please also see these examples of how CA universities spend our money. http://mnprager.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/bureaucratic-fat-with-propaganda-at-your-neighborhood-marxist-universities/ By way of example, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor "Basri commands a staff of 17, allegedly all required to make sure that fanatically left-wing UC Berkeley is sufficiently attuned to the values of “diversity” and “inclusion”; his 2009 base pay of $194,000 was nearly four times that of starting assistant professors. Basri was given responsibility for a $4.5 million slice of Berkeley’s vast diversity bureaucracy when he became the school’s first Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion in 2007; since then, the programs under his control have undoubtedly weathered the recession far more comfortably than mere academic endeavors."
Gregory Brittain November 03, 2012 at 09:13 AM
Please also see these examples of how CA universities spend our money. http://mnprager.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/bureaucratic-fat-with-propaganda-at-your-neighborhood-marxist-universities/ By way of another example, "University of California, San Francisco, which created a Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Outreach earlier this year at the height of the state’s budget crisis. Naturally, this new sinecure was redundant with UCSF’s existing Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, the Diversity Learning Center (where you can learn how to “Become A Diversity Change Agent”), the Center for LGBT Health & Equity, the Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention & Resolution, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women."
Gregory Brittain November 03, 2012 at 09:14 AM
Please also see these examples of how CA universities spend our money. http://mnprager.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/bureaucratic-fat-with-propaganda-at-your-neighborhood-marxist-universities/ By way of another example, "UC San Diego, which announced the creation of a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in May 2011, even as the campus was losing three prestigious cancer researchers to Rice University and was cutting academic programs. Needless to say, UCSD’s Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion replicated an equally fearsome mountain of diversity functions."
Pete Kutzer November 03, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Superintendent Shapiro is absolutely right. Voting yes on Prop. 30 to avoid further education cuts is essential for our children and the future of California. Prop. 38 would do more, but does not appear to have a chance of passing. As a Republican, I would prefer to avoid higher taxes. However, we must pay for what we need, and we need to invest in California schools, or our children will fall further behind. Of course, higher spending doesn’t necessarily lead to better schools. But the nation’s top performing states in education are Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Indiana, and Maine. It is no coincidence that these states also rank near the top in per pupil funding, and spend about 40% more on education that California. That’s an enormous difference. And my friends from Minnesota, Indiana and Maine aren’t exactly the types to blow their money recklessly on things they don’t need. Maine spends about $5,200 more per student than California; can we really afford to cut California funding by an additional $450 per student, and put our kids in a deeper hole? We need to fix a lot of things in California, including pensions, prisons, and excessive regulation. It will be a marathon effort. We shouldn’t shoot ourselves in the foot before we start.
Ddez November 04, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Greg's profile explains it all: About Gregory I am a member of the Redlands Tea Party Patriots. http://redlandsteaparty.com/
Gregory Brittain November 05, 2012 at 10:18 AM
As stated above, inflation adjusted per student spending ~quadrupled since 1960 and more than doubled since 1970, And what has happened to the quality of government run education? “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk,” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2012/03/26/7-signs-that-americas-educational-decline-is-jeopardizing-its-national-security/ “Among the Report’s findings are the following: 1. “The United States invests more in K-12 public education than many other developed countries, yet U.S. students remain poorly prepared to compete with global peers. According to the 2009 PISA, U.S. students ranked fourteenth in reading, twenty-fifth in math, and seventeenth in science compared to students in other developed countries.” 2. “More than 25 percent of U.S. students fail to graduate high school in four years; for Hispanic and and African-American students, the number approaches 40 percent.” 3. “Only 25% of U.S. students are proficient or better in civics, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”
Gregory Brittain November 05, 2012 at 10:18 AM
More results 4. “According to a recent report by the not-for-profit testing organization, ACT, only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met “college ready” standards in all of their core subjects; these figures are even lower for Hispanic and African-American students. The College Board reported that even among the narrower cohort of college-bound seniors, only 43 percent met college-ready standards. This means that, upon graduating high school, more than 50% of college-bound students need to take remedial classes in one or more subjects, though a far lower percentage actually do.” In other words, after 13 years of government “education,” “50% of college-bound students need to take remedial classes.” 5. “Despite high U.S. unemployment, and far higher under-employment, major U.S. employers cannot find qualified American applicants to fill their job openings. For instance, 63% of aerospace and life science firms report shortages of qualified workers.” 6. “75% of U.S. citizens ages 17-24 cannot pass military entrance exams because they are not physically fit, have criminal records, or because they lack critical skills needed in modern warfare. In addition, 30% of those who do graduate high school still lack the basic math, science, and English competency to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.”
Scott Feldmann November 05, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Nicely stated, Pete!
Ddez November 05, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Greg Brittain, where did you attend K-12 and where do your children attend k-12?
S. Ray November 06, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I am not in support of either Prop. 30 or Prop. 38. We are constantly told that our schools need more money, yet they continue to under-perform badly, to the point that California now ranks 47th in the nation in academic performance. We have no guarantees that the Sacramento crowd won't simply use the supposedly dedicated funds from either proposition as an excuse to pull other money out of the education budget and put it to waste somewhere else, like on funding for the useless bullet train. What is more, the Los Angeles Metro area already has among the highest per pupil spending in the country--$19,000 per pupil--according to one study which looks at real spending and not stated spending, and they are different. (http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa662.pdf) Taxing the citizens more is not the answer. Forcing real reform in Sacramento is. Until we citizens stand up and put the screws to Sacramento by saying NO MORE TAXES and really meaning it, we will simply suffer from more of the well-funded educational mediocrity and government waste that we have now. It's time to put an end to it. Vote No on Props. 30 and 38.
S. Ray November 06, 2012 at 01:02 AM
One other thing. Did anyone notice that South Pasadena's own Joel Shapiro and his wife, Enid Joffe, hosted a "meet and greet" in their home last Friday for Chris Holden, who favors putting a freeway through town? Google "Sierra Madre Tattler" for details. If that's not an example of biting the hand that feeds him, I don't know what is. Shapiro's lost all credibility with me. After all, Holden's simply a lapdog for the business as usual Hahn Political Machine and pro-Union crowd in Sacramento. If anyone thinks he will do anything to change the climate there, they need to look at who is supporting him; most of his donors, according to an article on Patch, are Unions who would benefit from building the freeway. And this is the guy who our superintendent wants to send to Sacramento? No thank you, Dr. Shapiro. You've lost all credibility with me.
Rockinlinus November 06, 2012 at 02:11 AM
"Shapiro's lost all credibility with me." I'm sure that's keeping him up nights.
David V. November 06, 2012 at 02:49 AM
S. Ray, you are spewing nonsense. Voting for Prop 30 is the only way to prevent devastation to our great K-12 school system and higher education. First, California is not ranked 47th in performance; 47th in spending is more like it. Further, the best school, those in the Northeast, are also the ones that spend the most. California has suffered cut after cut for the last several years, and the trend in student spending has been drastically downward since Prop. 13. You get what you pay for. We also have world class research universities -- whose excellence now hangs by a thread. Nor do I understand why you think public schools are hopelessly broken. They aren't. They have been a remarkable engine of upward mobility and economic expansion for decades. They are a great American success story. And they are now threated by anti-tax zealotry. The cuts to school budgets, as Superintendent Shapiro eloquently points out, have to stop, and the educational propositions are the only way to do that at this moment in time.. You cite a study from the Cato Institute, which is a right-wing think tank, and its work here is not credible. Indeed, the claim that we spend $19,000 per pupil in Los Angeles is preposterous. Voting against the educational propositions amounts to, quite simply, socking it to our kids and giving up the prospect of upward mobility for an entire generation. That is a threat to our economy and to our democracy. It is unconscionable.
Gregory Brittain November 06, 2012 at 08:03 AM
In deciding how to vote on Props 30, 32, and 38 [and whether to vote for Dems] please consider: “Adjusted for inflation, California’s government spending increased 42 percent per capita from 2000 to 2010.” http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/10/reason-rupe-poll-california-voters-moving-towards-wisconsin-like-government-reforms/ "The study, conducted by the Center for Government Analysis (CGA), found that total expenditures by the State of California to finance salaries and pension benefits for State workers grew three times as fast as the per capita personal income of all Californians." http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/10/alarming-compensation-trends-for-state-workers/ “CA public school teachers the highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading.” http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2011/calfacts/calfacts_010511.aspx page 36” CA pays ~ 3X more per inmate as TX, but CA is releasing criminals back onto the street. http://reason.org/news/show/private-prisons-save-california-bil Please see http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/09/breaking-bad-california-vs-the-other-states/ regarding the results of the Dems and GEUs controlling California.
Gregory Brittain November 06, 2012 at 08:03 AM
Inflation adjusted per student education spending has ~quadrupled since 1960 and more than doubled since 1970. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/tables/dt09_182.asp If you told people in 1970 we will double education spending, the taxpayers and parents would and should expect high quality education. Instead, despite huge increases in spending, the quality of government education is terrible to mediocre. The Dems and GEUs have not made the case they need more of our money or that they will use it wisely.
Gregory Brittain November 06, 2012 at 08:04 AM
http://californiabudgetbites.org/2011/01/ says not increasing taxes will require cutting $930 per student [out of $11,405 per student. http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2011/calfacts/calfacts_010511.aspx (p.13)]. That is 8.15%. Not the end of the world. Families and businesses base their spending on the money available and prioritize accordingly. How many families and businesses have and to reduce their spending by 8% or more? Brown and the Dems passed a budget that cuts education spending if the voters to not pass the tax increase. They can make other choices.
Rockinlinus November 06, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Greg Brittain has been cutting and pasting his tea party jabber repetitively on blogs pertaining to Prop 30 and 38. Greg, it's official, you now meet Einstein's definition of "wacko".
Gregory Brittain November 06, 2012 at 06:19 PM
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams
Ddez November 07, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Hey Greg, you might want to share that quote with Mitt Romney tonight!

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