How Much is “Adequate” School Spending for CA?

California Severely Underinvests in K-12

  • New York invests $24,342 per student, with 12.65 students per classroom
  • California invests $10,484 per student, with 22.53 students per classroom

Northeast states invest above $16,800/per student, and those states have lower concentrations of low-income and English Learner students (which require additional funding to catch them up to grade level). See Getting Down to Facts II (Sept. 2018; link below)

The Price We Pay for Underinvestment in Education

California, no surprise based on this investment data, ranks near bottom in academic performance and funding per student (cost of living adjusted).

This report suggests CA increase its investment per K-12 student to $16,800 – another $22 billion for education per year. Without this additional investment, California cannot close its achievement gap and decrease its high school dropout rate.

The cost of NOT investing is higher. California spends not $16,800 but $77,000 per year per high school drop-out prison inmate. Plus, California loses out on annual sales, income and property taxes from a fully employed resident could pay if s/he were not in prison. California’s 20 prisons are one-half full of high school dropouts.

Most Effective Uses of Additional K-12 Investment Dollars

Invest in teachers. An effective use of any additional funds is increased teacher starting wages and locating teacher education programs near districts with high needs students. Since 2014-15, 80% of California school districts report acute teacher shortages. The staffing difficulties are most severe in districts serving more disadvantaged and lower-performing students.

Invest in universal pre-school. California school districts with predominantly low income students lag behind similarly situated districts because of the lower school readiness levels of children entering kindergarten. Closing the achievement gap requires increasing access to high quality, affordable early childhood education and childcare.

School-based healthcare School based healthcare increases rates of educational success. A sick child or a child with a toothache can’t learn. California ranks 39th in school nurses and 50th in counselors per student. For less than $100 per student, California could address this problem – $620 million.

Learn More

The Getting Down to Facts II Report