Gov. Newsom Pressured to Fix Education Funding for English Learners

scathing audit on school funding that found the state did not meet promises made six years ago to help English language learners, foster children and students from poor families sets up a 2020 test of the clout of the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers – and of the willingness of Gov. Gavin Newsom to take on the unions who were early backers of his successful 2018 candidacy. 

State Auditor Elaine Howle’s review focused on how school districts in San Diego, Oakland and Clovis had implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which was adopted by the Legislature in 2013 at the behest of then-Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor and then-Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, were among several leaders who said the LCFF would be a game changer by getting additional assets to struggling students.

But Howle found instead that billions in extra funds the formula directed to districts with high percentages of English learners, foster kids and poor families had been used for general needs – including raises for teachers. She concluded there was little or no evidence that the LCFF had boosted these students’ performance.

“In general, we determined that the state’s approach [to Local Control] has not ensured that funding is benefiting students as intended,” Howle wrote.

Howle’s finding confirmed all the major criticisms of the formula that have been raised by education reformers and by civil rights lawyers who have repeatedly sued Los Angeles Unified over its treatment of poor minority students. 

Bill to track school funding couldn’t even get a hearing

But these groups have never gotten far with Local Control changes. Last spring, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who pushed for the audit, couldn’t even get Assembly Education Committee Chairman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, to hold a hearing on her bill to require disclosure of how LCFF dollars are being used.

Howle’s audit gives Weber new evidence to push for tracking such spending, and she has said fixing Local Control is her top priority in 2020. But O’Donnell, a former teacher who is close to the CTA and CFT, is unlikely to drop his opposition to tracking the funding.

A key question is likely to be what the governor does. While Newsom won the early endorsements of the two teacher unions, he spent the 2018 campaign telling editorial boards and the Los Angeles and Silicon Valley billionaires who back education reform that he too wanted to fix Local Control to ensure it helped struggling students and had proper accountability protections.

But any attempt to get school districts to stop spending LCFF dollars on teacher compensation – and on rapidly growing teacher pension costs – will go directly against the CTA and the CFT. They already see available school funding as inadequate and are both pushing for billions of dollars in tax hikes in two measures expected to be on the ballot in November 2020. They also won changes that will make it more difficult for charter schools to be approved or renewed using the argument that charters were diverting funding from regular public schools at a time when those schools are desperately underfunded. They are unlikely to accept the notion that the audit must be acted on.

Meanwhile, Newsom has so far used his political capital to advance an education reform that teachers unions also may question. But the reform – using metrics to track the performance of students throughout their K-12 journey – isn’t nearly as contentious as the state forcing many school districts to reorient their Local Control spending and stop using it for raises and pension bills.

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  1. The distinction of linking children to their ancestral language is tantamount to enslaving them to a culture from which they escaped. English is the language of commerce and lacking the basic fundamentals of this vocal interplay degrades their ability to engage in the fruits this country has to offer.

    • And hitching all children to an early grade test of their abilities is tantamount to enslavement also. Not every child is a MENSA candidate but at the same time they should not be tosses to one side for the brighter kids. We are experiencing this very issue, heaven help you if the child in your care got off to a slow start due to inept/ill parents and is struggling to catch up. The schools just make their work easier to get the test scores up and the school gets their kudos while the child falls further and further behind. Yes teachers are under paid and IMHO the unions aren’t helping one bit. All public service unions should be disbanded immediately, if the workers want to go on strike, fine, let them, we’ll find replacements soon enough.

    • two points
      1 when are suckers going to stop letting politicians lie on propositions and then steal dedicated monies…..Becerra where are you ?
      2 good teachers are underpaid, but average and below are waaaay overpaid when the whole compdnsationpackage – including pension costs — is considered. Time for some pay/performance linkage!!!!

  2. “Bill to track school funding couldn’t even get a hearing” Yep, “had been used for general needs – including raises for teachers”. Theft. Excuse me, but i knew a bartender at a Mexican restaurant who spoke excellent English; said he learned it watching English television. Took his hint and when I moved to Montreal that’s what I did; read the French newspapers and watched French news on TV. Even bought a book on Street French to learn colloquialisms. Nothing like immersion. I wanted to learn. People also wanted to practice their English on me. It’s on the individual to assimilate.

    • Students can no longer learn English by immersion in California K-12 schools. There are not enough English-speaking students left. Now they demand K-12 to foster “multi-lingualism” which means English speakers are now at a total disadvantage as the Spanish speakers now take over the classrooms and demand the natives learn their language.

  3. Tanstasfi, won’t work in a Government/Union controlled enviorment because you are suggesting (Accountability).

  4. California teacher union dominated K-12 are perfectly awful. They destroy property taxes. And property taxes are the life blood of the big public sector unions in this state. The teachers unions are shooting themselves in the foot tolerating bottom rung student outcomes while running up massive public pension debt. They better have a Plan B for their retirement.

  5. CTA has supported open borders for decades simply to keep the flow of students filling their failing classrooms. They need the high-birth rate illegals and encourage the “family” caravans who breach our borsers with sheer numbers and brute force California teachers unons are now reaping what they have sown – a barely functional school system full of illiterates and virtually 100% match challenged. But the teachers union members are lining their own pockets and the union bosses laugh all the way to the bank draining off $1000 per teacher per year in union dues. Keep those classrooms filled and the union dues flowing – providing a remotely adequte education is not even on the agenda.

  6. Passing some schools hard pressed to see maybe 10 white students, rest are Mexican they have overrun the school, nheard of one white boy who dropped out was suppose to be in class for slow learners was put in main stream most likely spanish speaking classes. White kids no longer wanted in Ca. How many are bullied ot threatened by mexican gangs in schools?

    • Worse is the downwardly-mobile peer pressure – to succeed academically is seen as being “too white” and you get beat up for that. Even some brown parents complain about this negative peer pressure when in fact they want to support their own kids achieving well academically. Schools in this state have have become a free-fall into the lowest anti-education common denominator – starting with the aggressively negative mainly illegal students themselves, on up the enabling teacher union-driven K-12 food chain.

      1982 SCOTUS mandating of free K-12 for all illegals was just one more negative incentive, along with the court’s immediate nullification of Prop 187 denying public services to illegals. Now California loses $23 billion dollars net providing goods and services to illegals. And the generous Prop 98 commitment to public education (50% of all general state tax revenues) is vastly diluted by the numbers of illegals now choking the public education system. For what overall benefit and what measures have teacher union driven “open borders” been healthy or good for this state?

      Little hope any of this can now be turned around. What is the future o a state with a virtually failed public education system and growing pressures every day from the vast and continuing influx of illegals? As well as now a massively growing high-birth rate of illegals producing armies of new “birthright citizen” voters.

      Failed public education and overwhelmling internal growth population numbers out-stripping local resources = one unavoialble disaster for this state. Who benefitted that allowed this to take place?

      How to become a third world nation?
      1. Raid the treasury
      2. Hire the relatives?

      Cui bono?

  7. As illegals overrun public schools, there is no amount of money that will be able to keep up with the damage they do to the classroom.

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