With a slowly recovering economy and the recent passage of temporary taxes, Gov. Brown now wants to move the additional educational dollars floating around to school districts serving poorer students and English learners.
In coming years, suburban school districts may end up paying the price to help the underserved, but Brown said only the shortsighted would not agree with his self-described progressive plan to bring equality.
“It’s a classic case of justice to unequals [sic]. We have to give more to approach equality. That’s the principle. I think that’s a powerful principle,” Brown said Thursday in introducing his proposed 2013-14 budget.
Brown proposed a similar plan last year: a so-called “weighted student formula” that gets rid of a lot of special programs and allots money at a flat rate per student, giving an extra 35 percent for low-income students and English learners. The idea, however, was ultimately trimmed from the budget.
This year, he’s calling it “local flexibility,” and it’s designed to be implemented in phases. The plan would give more money to school districts that have at least 50 percent of their population as poor or English learners.
However, suburban schools – which have been hurting financially along with the rest of the state – may ultimately get pinched. Brown said he was OK with that.
“Our future depends on it. If we don’t invest adequate funds in our children and their education, we will not have the economic well-being in future years,” he said. Aging suburbanites need a strong, younger work force to support them.
“One of the most important ways we do that is to invest in schools and disproportionately invest in those schools where there is greater difficulty in learning,” he said. “I think the majority of the people are going to see that. “
He pointed out that schools in Beverly Hills and Los Gatos are much better off than those in Compton or Richmond.
Brown also said the state's deficit is gone for the first time in years, adding it could reduce California's debt substantially by 2016.
"The deficit's gone; the wall of debt remains," Brown said, noting the state's $36-billion debt could be reduced to $4.3 billion by 2016.
The budget proposed by Brown also increases per-student funding for all levels of education. By the 2016-17 school year, K-12 schools would see a $2,681 increase in spending for each student. At the CSU and UC levels, spending would increase by about $2,000 and $2,500 by 2016-17, respectively.
— Cody Kitaura contributed to this report.