figures from the proposed CA budget
Last year’s budget set aside $1.25 billion to implement the new Common Core standards, used for professional development, instructional materials, and technology. This year’s proposed budget would still allocate $46.5 million toward Common Core, but now for the purpose of implementing the new assessment system, Smarter Balanced. The text of the budget explains that “additional assessments will be included and developed using computer-based testing, whenever feasible, to assess the full breadth and depth of the curriculum.”
The budget also celebrates the flexibility of education spending, stating that, “Local school districts are now empowered to decide the best way to target funds.” Yet, in exchange for that flexibility, “districts are required to increase or improve services for English learner, low-income, and foster youth students.” The budget does not explain what these constraints look like, only noting that there would be put in place “locally developed and adopted local control and accountability plans.”
While the budget lacks exact details in certain places, it is still a meaningful commentary on the valuing of education by the state. As a classroom teacher, I feel like my profession is taken seriously by state politicians, and that there will be funds to help support the learning taking place in my classroom.
Still, the proposed budget could simply be political pandering and obligation. Jerry Brown is expected to run for re-election this November, and a popular budget that seeks to “maximize student achievement, and strengthen the foundation for sustainable economic growth” is just the thing to aid in keeping his seat as Governor.
Furthermore, state education spending is largely set by mandated increases via Proposition 98, approved by voters in 1988. It required education to account for 39 percent of the state budget in 1988-89 – and this year’s proposed budget for 2014-15 sets education at just shy of 40 percent. Not too impressive of an increase. But I suppose it’s a start, considering we are still coming out of an economic recession.
The next step is for the budget to get approved by the State Assembly and Senate. It will be interesting to see what—if any—action is taken to alter education spending before the official budget is approved.