Sacramento Safari 2012

 

Sacramento Safari 2012

Report from Sacramento Safari 2012

  Total Attendees from 4th District PTA: 84

Total 4th District Councils Represented: 14. Anaheim Secondary, Buena Park, Capistrano, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Harbor, Huntington Union, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Orange, Placentia Yorba-Linda & Saddleback

 Hot topics of discussion included:

  • Our Children, Our Future Initiative
  • Governor’s Proposed Budget
  • Weighted Student Formula
  • Mandates, Deferrals, and Trigger
  • Education Finance Reform
  • Teacher and Principal Evaluations
  • Common Core Standards

 

MONDAY MARCH 26, 2012 – Embassy Suites Hotel

 California State PTA

Report by Alyce Britton, Huntington Union Council

 Carol Kocivar, President

  • Sacramento- where important decisions are made for children – that’s the heart of PTA – to improve the lives of children
  • PTA creates the community that we want for our kids; we have the power to change the world for our children.
  • Every child has the right to experience a high quality comprehensive education
  • We are now participating in the PTA’s largest fundraiser ever – the Our Children, Our Future ballot initiative; now more than ever, the children ofCalifornia need the PTA.

Patty Scripter, Director of Legislation

Discussed the basics of a good legislator visit:

  • Give good information
  • Remind them that you are a volunteer, not a paid lobbyist
  • Using their voting record, try to find something to thank them for
  • We oppose the Governor’s weighted student formula
  • Leave the door open for the next time

When talking about the Initiative:

  • Emphasize local control
  • Discuss the facts, but don’t try to convince
  • Say that PTA is behind it and we are committed; it is transformational for kids
  • It protects the integrity of Proposition 98

It is an audacious goal to get $10-11 billion for schools, but tax payers have indicated they are ready.

Paul Richman, Executive Director

4th District PTA is legendary inSacramento!

  • Capitol conversations still have been known to begin with, “Remember when the PTA moms and dads came here from OC?…”

The legislators may not always vote our way, but they are watching and are aware we will keep them accountable

PTA Convention coming in early May: sign up!!

Communication Audit:

  • To determine the best, most  effective ways to communicate with members and to get info back from members
  • Let him know how the CA PTA website is doing and if it is meeting your needs

 

Molly Munger, Principal Author of Our Children, Our Future Initiative

Report by Theresa Blankenstein, Los Alamitos Council

 It is wonderful to have Carol Kocivar as an ally in this work!  It’s great to have her at the helm during this challenge and the help of everyone in PTA is appreciated.  PTA is a main partner in this initiative.

Orange County is special.  We love our public schools.  We are loyal and we fight for our schools.  The energy is high and the commitment is high too.  Californiaschools used to be 5th in per pupil funding, but now we are 47th.  This year, we are pushing back!  Why this year?  The reason is because Californians are more worried about their schools than they have been in twenty years.

When you look at the polling data, you only get 30% support when you a say it is a sliding income tax increase.  Support is 48% to 59% when you say that it is for the schools.  Once people get it in their minds that they will pay more but schools will get more then their support is solid like the Rock of Gibraltar.  I urge you to be of good cheer.  This is a good fight!  We will be doing new polling very soon.

In the campaign process, we are one month away from turning in the signatures.  The pushback from those opposed will end once we are on the ballot.  It is reminiscent of Anne Boleyn’s statement as she prepared to marry King Henry VIII, “Whatever you think, it’s going to happen.”

There are very competent people working on the initiative campaign along with robust volunteers and paid signature gatherers.  Every signature gathered is another person who has been touched by this campaign.  You should be energetic, but not anxious.

California is only one of three states that has reduced education funding by more than 20% from 2008 levels.  Our national per pupil funding level is now behind the national average and worse than ever before.

The way the taxes are structured demonstrate the smoothing formula (specified in the initiative) used to protect against volatility.  Extra money is used to pay down education debt under the smoothing formula.

A tax calculator is being added to the website so that individuals can determine how much the initiative will cost them.  It is also important to note that this tax increase will be deductible and taxpayers will get back 35% of these additional taxes from the federal government.  The initiative raises over $10 billion in taxes, but it only costs taxpayers $7.5 billion because of the federal income tax deduction.  The power of a big state is that everybody chips in a little and we can work miracles.

Governor Brown’s proposal hurts low income individuals more than the OCOF initiative because of the impact of the sales tax.  It includes realignment of prisons, court security, etc.  Additionally, his initiative makes the loss of $2 billion from schools in the 2011-2012 year permanent.  40% of the general fund is allocated to schools.  If you take money out of the general fund, then schools lose 40% of that removed money.  The governor’s initiative provides for a constitutional amendment that permanently removes money from the general fund.  After 2018, theADAgoes negative as soon as his tax increase ends.

Question:  There was a helpful document that showed the differences between the three proposed initiatives.  Will there be a new document that compares the combined initiative and the OCOF initiative?

Answer:  Yes, a new comparison document is being prepared.

Question:  What happens if both initiatives pass?

Answer:  The governor’s realignment will occur and it will take some funding away from education, but there will be extra funds from OCOF so schools should be ok.

Question:  The governor says his initiative is for schools, but doesn’t it take money away from schools?

Answer:  We are very concerned about the governor’s posturing that this is an education initiative.  We protected ourselves with a dedicated fund over and above Proposition 98.  If voters pass the OCOF initiative, we will have an even better legal argument to present to the courts because it is a newly passed initiative. George Skelton just wrote a column and he said that the governor calling his initiative the “education initiative” is a new low in political deception.

Question:  How will oversight of the funds from the OCOF initiative occur?

Answer:  You will all be key to the enforcement of this money because we don’t want to spend the money on a big bureaucracy.  We want transparency.  Also, criminal cases can be brought by any district attorney in the state if the money doesn’t arrive.

Question:  So, why are teachers backing the governor’s initiative?

Answer:  The California Teachers Association can’t affect revenue.  40% of the state budget is spent on schools.  Other interest groups “gang up” on schools.  If schools don’t “eat” then everyone else gets more.  You can make a lot of people happy if you just take a little bit from education.

Question:  Will we be able to use the OCOF initiative funds generated from the OCOF initiative to restore furlough days?

Answer:  Yes.

Sue Burr, Executive Director, State Board of Education

Report by Shanin Ziemer, Buena Park Council

Governor Brown eliminated the Secretary of Education position and 11 other jobs, so now it’s Sue’s job to advise the Governor on school policy issues. She has two assistants to help with the additional workload. The State Board of Education oversees federal funds for K-12 and develops policies related to statewide testing, state standards, and instructional materials.

There used to be a disconnect between the State Board of Education and the Department of Education under State Superintendent Torlakson, but now they are working more closely and “on the same page.”

The State Board of Education is working on Common Core standards implementation; there will be fewer, but deeper standards.  At a meeting last March they adopted an implementation plan for the standards.  Our state elected to go with the Smarter Balanced group for assessment, with the new assessments beginning in the 2014/2015 school year.  So now the question is what to do with professional development, materials, and curriculum.  The Instructional Quality Commission (which is made up of half teachers) advises the board on those issues.  They are working to translate the standards to the curriculum frameworks and determine what the criteria are for new materials.  An issue is that there are no funds for new materials, so they are looking for “bridge” materials and for what needs to be added.  They would use additional materials to supplement current materials.

The Governor feels there is too much testing in schools, and that the test results take too long to get back.  He wants testing information to be usable during the current school year, so in 2013 (when our state contract is up with our current test processing company) we expect to get STAR test results back in 2-3 weeks.  Another issue of concern is tests that have no consequences, and he plans to remove those.  Can we use one test for more than one thing?  For example, can taking an AP test and passing it be used instead of a state test to show proficiency, or perhaps use SAT scores instead of CA state testing.  If we remove certain types of testing, they would change the weight of other areas of AYP to make up for the change and keep subjects taught.

Materials are available for teachers and parents on the State Department of Education website and their meetings are streamed live on the web.

Accountability includes test results; the School Accountability Report Cards (SARC) are not as useful as they could be.  A new template is coming to make it more meaningful; maybe adding inspectors like they have in Europe for a more qualitative review.  Currently we have WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) who review, but they are volunteers with not much training; would like better trained, professional reviewers.

On ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, aka No Child Left Behind): states can apply for a waiver. CA does not like the waiver process; you trade one set of rigid requirements for another that costs more money.  Waivers equal less local control and more focus on test scores being tied with teacher ratings. CA wants a state directed waiver to allow us relief from shame and blame. It is not reasonable to expect that all kids will be proficient by 2014.  CA would like to use our own measurement instead.  Twenty percent of Title I funds are required to be set aside for private tutoring (state has 200+ Title I schools).  Research shows results are not too successful with this and it takes a lot of money.  But CA does not expect to receive a state directed waiver from the Arne Duncan (federal Department of Education) administration.  The waiver request must be completed by May. Eleven states have received waivers already, but many states think the requirements will never actually apply and deadlines will get extended, so they applied with no real intention of fulfilling the requirements.

Budget issues: Governor Brown wants an increase in revenue for the state.  He has reduced the deficit from $23 billion to $9 billion.  We need to fix the fundamental base of funding.  He has proposed a weighted student formula (based on Getting Down to Facts study) so students with more needs (based on ELL-English Language Learners and Free Lunch) get more money.  The money is tied to unlimited categoricals.  It would provide mandate reform in order to streamline funding and give more local control, flexibility and transparency; more in the form of block grants than the current funding.  In 2012, Prop 98 funding is $48 billion and will increase to $64.2 billion in 2015/2016, based on projected tax revenue and expected growth. We do not want to have to enact trigger cuts of $4.5 billion midyear, but if we do they would come with increased flexibility.

Edgar Cabral, Legislative Analyst’s Office

Report by Sue Hill, Capistrano Unified Council

Overview of the Governor’s January Budget

 Major Components of Governor’s Budget Package

  • Estimates Budget Problem at $9.2 B
  • Proposes Net $10.1 B in Solutions
  • Assumes voters approve November 2012 Tax Measure
  • Proposes $5.4B in trigger reductions if measure fails

Most triggered reductions will be in K-12 and higher education

Budget Balancing Actions

  • $7.2B in new revenues

$6.9B from new tax package

  • $4.0B in expenditure reductions in programs; such as: CalWorks and Childcare Funding
  • $1.4B in other savings

Savings are realized due to delaying repayment of funds borrowed from smaller state special funds

  • $2.5B in offsetting increase in Proposition 98 Guarantee

It is difficult to make revenue predictions because forecasts are largely based upon trying to figure out what really rich people will do with their money.

Governor’s revised tax measure—compromise between governor’s original measure and CFT supported “Millionaire’s Tax”

  • Creates $9.1B in New Revenue
  • Smaller sales tax increase and larger income tax increase than previous initiative

.25-cent sales tax increase

  • Income tax increase lasts 7 years, which is longer than previous version
  •  Tax rate increase:  1% for incomes over $250K per year

2% for incomes over $300K per year

3% for incomes over $500K per year

These rates are for single filers.   Head of household and joint filers have higher income thresholds to   apply the rate increase. These rates are only applied to the income in excess of each threshold.

Proposition 98: Governor’s basic Budget Plan

  • Right now $1 of every $5 of proposition 98 funding is paid late to school districts.

Chart depicts what the prop 98 guarantee is for K-12 and Community colleges in the 2011/12 school year (revised) and in the proposed 2012/2013 budget.  However, the chart was based on information before the new initiative was conceived.

5 Major Proposals

  • Backfill one time actions ($3B)

State providing funding for last year’s actions

  • Pay down Deferrals ($1.8 B)
  • Create Mandate Block Grants ($200 M)
  • Hold Harmless costs of weighted student formula ($90M) for 1 year

Phase in weighted student formula over 6 years

These funds will be used to offset districts losing money due to new formula, for the first year only

 

There is $10.4B in deferred payments due to schools.  This forces school districts to borrow money to provide for the money the state owes them.

Programmatic Per-pupil funding chart (uses statewide averages)

Considers state money and one time federal monies, such as, ARRA monies.  This graph displays funding from the 2007/2008 school year through the 2011/2012 and includes projections for the 2012/2013 school year.  The chart depicts that the highest statewide average annual per pupil funding occurred in 2008/2009 at $8414 after which average statewide per pupil funding dropped every school year. Per pupil funding in 2009/2010 is $7933 and it dropped in the 2011/2012 school year to $7580.  The estimated statewide average of per pupil funding in the governor’s budget proposal  (released January 2012) is $7667 assuming the ballot measure passes.  The funding estimate for 2012/2013 school year falls to $7075 if the governor’s ballot measure fails.

Deferrals over time graph.

This graph displays how many billions of dollars have been deferred (paid late to schools) since the 2001/2002 school year when the practice began.   During the 2001/2002 school year, approximately $1B was deferred for 10 days.  Over time, the deferred amounts became larger and the repayment delays became longer. The graph displays that between the 2001/2002 & 2007/2008 school years deferrals ranged from $1B-2B.  In the 2008/2009 school year deferrals jumped to over $4B and continued to rise to a peak of over $10B in the 2011/2012 school year.  The chart depicts that the deferred amount will drop to just over $8B in the 2012/2013 school year should the governor’s initiative pass.  The state does not reimburse school districts for the costs related to borrowing necessitated by the deferral of funds.  Borrowing costs include interest on debt service and administrative costs.

 

Education Mandates Block Grant

  • Eliminates about half of K-12 mandates
  • Provides $178M in block grant to fund remaining activities

Sets district funding rate at $30 per pupil. The benefit of using this fixed amount is that it eliminates paperwork needed by districts that receive monies under the current system

  • Allows LEAs (local education agencies) to select between the $30 per student block grant and existing reimbursement system, which is cumbersome to implement.

 

Weighted Student Formula proposed in the governor’s budget would change financial allocations to districts.

Base Grant is approx. $5000/student and then an additional 37% will be added per low income or ELL student

  • Removes strings associated with 7 currently standalone programs
  • Creates weighted student formula
  • Phase in new formula over 6 years
  • Direct State Board of Education to develop a new accountability system because the new formula has no accountability component.

 

The weighted student funding formula will eliminate revenue limit funding and 60 categorical programs.  In 2009 school districts were given significant flexibility in 40 categorical programs. In addition, this year the strings attached to the EIA and class size reduction programs were eliminated.

 

Basic Plan linked with Tax Measure

  • Governor estimates his tax measure would raise $6.9B initially:

$2.2B accrued to 2011-2012

$4.7B attributed to 2012-2013

  • Impact on prop 98:

About $900M increase in 2011/2012

About $2.4 B increase in 2012-2013

 

LAO recommendations

  • If new revenues materialize, use to pay down deferrals in 2012/2013

Based upon uncertainty regarding revenue, LAO feels that it is better to plan for deferral pay back with any additional revenues then COLA (cost of living adjustment.)

  • Create mandatory block grant and do not give other options

LAO likes this because it is simpler and easier; however, the LAO recommends adjustments be made to the amount of the per students grants to account for specific criteria such as districts within high cost of living areas or rural districts which have particularly high transportation costs.

  • Adopt either weighted student formula or a few large block grants—which must be spent to benefit specific students.
  • Do not initiate Transitional Kindergarten program—LAO believes delaying this program is a good idea.

 

Proposition 98:  Governor’s multi-year repayment plan: Wall of Debt

The governor proposes a plan to pay off all deferral and mandates by the 2015/2016 fiscal year.  LAO    likes the plan but feels that the Governor’s pay down estimates are too aggressive.

 

LAO recommends using the governor’s plan as a starting point

To increase likelihood plan is consistently implemented:

  • Extend payment period
  • Spread payments more evenly over period
  • Designate settle-up funds for mandates or deferrals
  • Redirect QEIA program savings to other obligations—QEIA is based upon the 2006 lawsuit settlement between Gov Schwarzenegger and CTA regarding funding for schools whose API falls into deciles 1 & 2.  Some schools that don’t qualify cannot continue to collect the funds.  LAO recommends these funds be used to pay down debt.

 

Proposition 98: Governor’s back up budget plan

Proposed “Trigger” Reductions of $5.4B—Triggered cuts will include reduction of $4.837B in proposition 98 funds for schools and community colleges, $200M for UC, $200M CSU, $125M judicial branch, $15M CalFire, $7M Dept of Water Resources flood control programs, $4M Dept of Fish and game, $2M Dept of parks and recreation, and $1M Dept of justice law enforcement programs.

 

Two Concerns with Back Up plan

  • Serious Policy concerns with debt service proposal.  Typically bond payments are made from general fund dollars, which are not used in the Prop 98 calculation.  However, the Governor is proposing to include these bond payments within the Prop 98 calculation.  In other words, bond debt service payments do not typically reduce the prop 98 guarantee; however, they will be used to reduce the prop 98 guarantee in this proposal.
  • Treatment of Realignment Revenues Risky–The 1 cent sales tax for criminal justice realignment has not been used to calculate prop 98; however, if the ballot measure fails the CSBA and ASCA challenge to this practice will continue in the courts.

 

The LAO forecast is more pessimistic than the governor’s forecast.  LAO forecasts revenues lower by $3B in 2011/2012 and $3.5 B lower in 2013/2014

 

By May, when tax returns are in, there will be a better ability to project future revenue.

 

LAO Recommendations

 

Reconsider debt service proposal: It reduces prop 98 without going through the process of suspending prop 98.   The governor chose to make the trigger reductions heavily impact schools.

 

Provide more flexible options, effective July:

  • Remove additional categorical and mandate requirements
  • Allow for shorter school year
  • Eliminate or suspend penalties for exceeding statutory class size caps
  • Authorize special post-election layoff window

 

Trigger cuts force districts to plan for the worst and layoff staff or reduce programs more than potentially needed because mid-year changes are difficult or impossible for school districts to implement.

 

Other Major Issues

  • Preschool Funding- part in prop 98, part in childcare program
  • Childcare reductions
  • Our Children, Our Future Initiative

 

LAO is unsure of what will happen if two initiatives pass.  Since the governor’s initiative includes both sales and income tax increases there is confusion whether the sales tax portion of the governor’s initiative would still be implemented if both initiatives were to pass.  LAO feels that the issues would be litigated through the courts.

 

 

John Fensterwald, Editor/Writer Thoughts on Public Education (TOPEd)

Report by Gisela Meier, 4th District PTA Advocacy Team Member

 

Mr. Fensterwald discussed three topics: accountability, the weighted student formula, and charter schools.

Accountability: Without categorical funding, how will schools be held accountable for the programs that are now assured through the funding? How can we be sure that the money will go to the children who need it?  Categoricals include Career Tech Education (CTE), adult education, Economic Impact Aid for poor children and PE tests for kids.

If we are not going to use the Academic Performance Index (API), what will replace it? Last legislative term Darrell Steinberg attempted to replace it with an “Educational Quality Index” (SB547), which was vetoed by Governor Brown in a lyrical veto message. This year Steinberg has introduced SB 1458, which would require the State Superintendent of Schools to develop a new program that would emphasize history and science more and that would include school inspections. Test results would count for 40% of the score (as opposed to 60% now). One of the models for school inspections is the British system known as Ofsted. Fensterwald said inEnglandthere have been reports of troublesome children being kept out of school on inspection days (with bribery, if necessary) and laminated student artworks being passed from school to school. Inspections are great, he said, but you have to beware of abuses.

Weighted Student Formula: Fensterwald agrees with the LAO report that the current school finance system has a lot of problems. It is complex and irrational, with formulas based on historical facts that are no longer relevant. It is inequitable, because similar districts are not treated the same. It is also inefficient and highly centralized.

The weighted student formula that Gov. Brown is endorsing is based on a plan developed by Michael Kirst (Stanford professor and president of the state board of education).  According to this plan:

  • English language learners and low income students receive an additional 37% of funding.
  • Districts with higher concentrations of disadvantaged students get bonus amounts (0.74% for every 1% above 50%).
  • The change is phased in over six years.
  • There are no hold harmless guarantees beyond the first year (so some districts might have reduced funding levels).
  • Elementary and high school districts would get the sameADA(high schools now get 20% more).

According to a report by the State Department of Finance, there is an assumption that there will be a 40% increase in Prop. 98 over six years, and the base funding level will grow from $4,930 to $6,888. This assumes that the governor’s tax proposal is approved and the economy grows.

Fensterwald had a Department of Finance chart showing that all of the school districts inOrangeCountywould gain funding through a weighted student formula, and there would be an average of $9,200 per child by 2017-18. To read Fensterwald’s articles on the weighted student formula go to:

http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/02/22/districts-funding-under-weighted-formula/
http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/03/14/weighted-formulas-heavy-load/

 

Fensterwald said he had a lot of questions about the formula:

  • Where is the research to support the weight and concentration factors?
  • What should the base amount be?
  • Should there be hold harmless provisions to keep districts to at least 2007-08 levels ($5,281 perADA) with cost of living adjustments ($6,700 perADA)?
  • How long should it take to phase in the new formula?
  • Should other factors be considered (regional differences, high school districts)?
  • What is being left out of the formula (adult education, transportation, CTE)?
  • Is there another approach altogether? (AB18 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley)

Charter Schools:  Fensterwald presented graphs from a 2009 national study that showed 17% of charter schools do better than average in student achievement, 33% do worse, and the rest are somewhere in between.California charter schools in certain areas did better. There are some good private charter school organizations (Rocketship, Aspire, KIPP). However, charter schools face higher costs — about $395 per student. School districts face increased pressure from loss ofADA when student transfer to charter schools.

A Charter School Association Study of API scores at 789 charters showed that 118 did exceedingly well, 100 had the lowest scores, but most scored somewhere between. The poorest performing charter schools tend to have fewer students; the successful ones have more students. The association had a proposal that a charter school should not be renewed if it falls in the lowest 5%. Assemblywoman Julia Brownley passed a bill to that effect. Gov. Brown vetoed it, saying that API scores don’t tell the whole story and that schools should be inspected.

Charter schools are underfunded by about 7%, causing difficulties for school districts. AB 1172, by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, would allow a school district to use its financially distressed status as a reason for denying a charter application.

Q&A: Weighted Student Formula

The  legislature is pushing back on this proposal and saying it should be a policy discussion, not part of the budget. Fensterwald thinks it’s a bad year to go ahead with this and a bad way to do it.

The Education Coalition [which includes CAPTA] has come out against the weighted student formula, saying the proposal is being pushed too fast and that the process should be more deliberate. The Governor says he doesn’t care; he wants to press forward with it. But if the legislature says no, he will have a hard time with it. It’s hard to make a change when you are increasing taxes for schools.

 

Kevin Gordon, President School Innovations and Advocacy

Report by Kathy Fischer, Capistrano Unified Council

SI&A provides services involving budget and finance, curriculum and instruction, categorical programs, human resource management, school facilities construction, and education technology.  Mr. Gordon previously was executive director of the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) and chief lobbyist/ assistant director of the California School Boards Association (CSBA).

 

Kevin Gordon spoke to us on Education Finance, school district budgets, and the proposed ballot propositions.  As he stated, we have been subject to the trend in the last few years of uncertain budgets for schools.  The “budget season” has been in three parts – January for the Governor’s Budget Proposal, May for the May Revision, and Summer/Fall for the final adoption of the Budget.  It has been difficult for school districts to plan as the budget numbers keep changing through the year.

 

For example, Governor Schwarzenegger, in his January 2010 budget, proposed cutting $260 perADA.  In May, the amount had changed to $100 perADA.  Finally, the budget passed by the Legislature in October had $0 cuts to schools.  “Creative solutions,” such as accounting maneuvers and deferrals, were used instead.  Mr. Gordon credits the efforts of State PTA and their unwillingness to accept deeper cuts for the final budget that was passed.

 

Jerry Brown’s first budget proposal in January 2011 had $0 cuts to schools but called for an election on tax increases.  As we know, the March and November elections both went by without a tax measure.  The 2011-12 Budget Act passed in June had some cuts to Education with additional “trigger cuts” called for in January 2012 if income fell short.  Triggers were pulled, but the original trigger cuts to transportation were seen as unfair and far too debilitating to rural districts.  Instead, a larger cut to Revenue Limit was enacted, and again, uncertainty for school districts.

 

The Budget for 2012-13 lists a best-case and worst-case scenario based on the outcome of a tax measure in November.  Gov. Brown suggests that districts be optimistic and plan for the best-case scenario of “flat funding.”  However, district business officers are planning for cuts of $370ADAand are firmly telling the governor that the cuts are not done easily and are not sustainable over time.  School districts cannot, and should not, duplicate the State’s incompetence in budgeting.  ACSA and CSBA will not endorse the governor’s budget and tax measure.  In fact, they are suing over the shift of bond debt service into Prop 98.

Mr. Gordon pointed out many flaws in the Gov. Brown’s tax proposal.  It solves the systemic budget situation with increased revenue through sales tax and income tax increases while providing additional money towards Prop 98.  However, it is wrong of Gov. Brown to say that “all the money goes to public schools”, because that is not true.

Also, the governor says that the only way to avoid cuts equaling 3.5 weeks of school is to pass the measure.  However, the governor could make different choices.  Brown’s shift of $2.4 billion in bond debt service to the Education budget and moving 2.4 billion out of the General Fund to local government impacts Prop 98 funding by a cut of $4.8 billion or 3.5 weeks of school.   Mr. Gordon would prefer that the governor construct the budget differently so that school districts can plan with more confidence.  Perhaps making use of more deferrals and trigger cuts would work better for districts than planning for a worst case scenario that may never play out.  He wants the governor to be honest about what his tax measure does and does not do.  He does, however, prefer the merged plan with California Federation of Teachers (“Jerry 2.0”) over the original Brown plan.

 

Kevin Gordon does not support the weighted student funding formula.  Current Revenue Limits are 21% lower than they should be and the new base suggested by Gov. Brown is too low.  In addition, Brown’s plan will “wipe out” all obligations for unpaid COLA and result in too many “losers”.  Most school districts would receive less per pupil funding and would not see that situation improve as time goes on.

 

Mr. Gordon believes that Our Children, Our Future (the Munger Bill) helps K-12 and early childhood education long term, but only marginally helps the General Fund.  The plan is very straightforward about the money raised and how it is disbursed to schools.  However, under this plan, the overall budget problem is still not solved leaving the Legislature with a big problem.  He was complimentary of PTA’s involvement from the beginning stages and active support in qualifying the initiative.  However, he has strong feelings against putting the initiative on the ballot if it does not have enough support to win at the ballot box.

 

The goal is to pass a tax measure in November and Mr. Gordon supports the measure that has the higher polling numbers – Brown’s measure.  According to the USC/Times Poll of March 26th, Brown’s measure has 64% support compared to 32% support for OCOF.  While Gordon is very impressed by PTA’s position, input into the measure, and work in collecting signatures, he does not think poll numbers support putting the measure on the ballot.  He believes that Californians will only vote for one measure and that competing propositions could result in both losing.

 

Kim Anderson and Celia Jaffe followed up Kevin Gordon’s presentation by reviewing the components of “Our Children, Our Future” and the reasons for PTA’s support.  As Molly Munger told us earlier that day, “the more people know about the measure, the more they like it”.  Therefore, changes are being made within the campaign organization to improve communication with the public and make the message heard.  OCOF is the best measure for school funding and the best way to help kids in the long term.   We are taking a bold and decisive stand with this proposition.

 

TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012 – Legislative Office Building (LOB)

 Rick Pratt, Chief Consultant Assembly Education Committee

Report by Sara Annis, Cypress Council

Mr. Pratt began with a lengthy discussion of Brownley’s AB 18.  He said, this proposed legislation had been “brewing for years” but had generated a lot more discussion because of the Governor’s weighted student formula proposal.

He first provided a summary of key elements of the Governor’s weighted student formula plan (to later be compared with AB 18).

The Governor’s plan includes:

  • A flat amount of money for all schools (eliminating past history of giving high schools more money per student)
  • Giving a “weight” (37% over the base formula) for English learners and poor students
  • Other than funding for special education, all other funding will be allocated to this new weighted system
  • This formula will be phased in over a period of six years and the Governor has modified the plan so there will be no “winners or losers” the first year.
  • There are no restrictions on how the money allocated per student should be spent, i.e., extra funds for English learners and poor do not have to be spent for those groups. The Governor’s response to this perceived lack of accountability is that there will be in place accountability measures at the district level.  Pratt commented that providing funding without having accountability in place is like “putting the cart before the horse.”
  • The Governor’s plan was originally going to be proposed as legislation, which would have allowed for public input on such a major policy change. Currently the Governor’s plan is to insert the proposal as a “budget trailer bill” which simply calls for an up or down vote in each house
  • Currently Brownley is trying to arrange a public hearing on the Governor’s proposal, to be scheduled for the 1st Wednesday in May, to permit the public to weigh in on this proposed policy change.

 

About AB 18:  This bill was formulated based on two perceived needs (1) to give districts greater flexibility and (2) to gradually move towards a weighted formula. Pratt discussed each need separately.

 

(1) Why do districts need greater flexibility? There are temporary measures in place putting categorical program into 3 tiers of block grants. When these expire the district will be forced to return to the old rigid way of dealing with categorical programs.  AB 18 prevents this from happening.  He believes it is good to give the districts greater flexibility so they can better serve the students and better deal with budget reductions.

AB 18 is structured as follows:  There are three levels of block grants. They are still figuring out where current programs should or should not be included in the block grants.  Some should remain as a stand along programs.

  1. General Purpose Block Grant: covers a wide variety of programs, instructional materials, etc.
  2. Targeted Pupil Instruction Block Grant: covers all programs for English language learners and poor students. Unlike the Governor’s proposal, the money would have to be spent on these categories.
  3. Instructional Improvement Block Grant: covers programs such as class size reduction and professional development for teachers. The District would have more flexibility with funds in this category.

 

They have decided some programs will remain as stand-alone categories. For example Adult Education was in the General Purpose Block Grant but the bill has been amended and it exists as a stand-alone program.  Another example is homeless student transportation. It is not in any block grant.

 

(2) There is a need to move towards a weighted formula. AB 18 was written to serve as “a platform” for later growing into student weighted formula. They recognize some students need more, but they also believe there needs to be a process to determine the weight to increase over time so that there will be no “winners and losers” The Department of Education should be given time to analyze the issues, working with a computer program to test the formula using different variables.

 

Pratt next discussed elements of the Governor’s recent compromise plan with the teacher’s union.  The Governor compromised by reducing the sales tax but increased the income tax to generate more revenue than what was in his original plan.  Pratt stated Brownley had endorsed the Governor’s initiative rather than the OCOF (Our Children, Our Future initiative) because her “concern is not just with education but with whole budget issues.” Pratt explained the Governor’s initiative helps the caucus with their plans for realignment, shifting money to local government to carry out programs.

 

Finally, Pratt explained the difference between AB18 and the Governor’s weighted student formula with respect to EIA (Economic Impact Aid) and poor children.

Under AB18 if one child falls within the definition of both of these categories they are counted twice (2x).

Under the Governor’s formula the child falling under both categories is only counted one time (1x). This unduplicated count will negatively affect many districts.  The Governor has stated this loss will be offset by his formula’s “concentration factor,” giving districts with a higher percentage of these types of students an additional level of funding.  Pratt opined it is difficult to tell if the concentration factor will be a good setoff and that the Department of Education should be given time to analyze the proposal further.

 

Question and Answer Session

 

Q: Where does career and technical education fall within AB18?

A: It would be in the General Purpose Block; however the amount depends on local priorities.

 

Q: Do basic aid districts get money under AB18?

A: He explained the difference between most districts and basic aid districts.  TheADAin every district has a revenue limit.  It is first funded by local property taxes and then state aid is used the bridge the gap to the revenue limit.  In basic aid districts the property taxes collected are in excess of the revenue limit.  However, the state still gives those districts money and it is called “basic aid.”

Pratt stated he was unsure if state basic aid would be given under the Governor’s weighted student formula. He predicted it would be eliminated.  He stated it is also unclear how charter schools will receive state funds.

 

Q: Does the Department of Education currently have a computer program to test the weighted student formula?

A. In short the answer is “not yet.”  The Department of Finance has a computer program. Rather than giving data to the Department of Finance, the Department of Education would like to get a copy of that program so it can have more flexibility testing and analyzing the data. He was not sure to what extent the variables can be changed in the computer model.

 

Q: What was the basis of the Governor’s formula?

A: It is based by a policy paper written in 2008 by a research group from Berkley (By State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, former state Education Secretary Alan Bersin and now state Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, then a law professor) However, the research paper reported they did not have direct data on the duplicative count issue.  Pratt opined a model based on reality may produce a different result, which is another reason why the Department of Education should work with their formula.

 

Q: What kind of vote is needed for a constitutional amendment on the ballot?

A: A majority vote.

 

Q: Under AB18 do the school districts get the same amount of funding underADA?

A: Yes and more flexibility to disperse it. Under the Governor’s proposal the districts are not guaranteed the same amount.

 

Q: Are there concerns about the inequity caused by the Governor’s formula? What about Title 1 schools?

A: The Serrano case (dealing with inequities to school funding when it was solely based on neighborhood property taxes) only applies to general purpose funding with property taxes. The Court ruled the old system of funding based on property taxes was an unconstitutional denial of equal protection due to the inequalities created by depending on this source of revenue and corresponding lack of a compelling state interest for imposing the inequity.  In comparison, Pratt opined there is likely a compelling state interest in a weighted formula to provide additional funds for higher need kids, such as the poor and English learners.  The formula would likely be deemed constitutional.

 

Q: Brownley is endorsing the Governor’s plan but it really does not provide much money for education and manipulates the Proposition 98 formula.  Is there any budget discussion to stop the manipulation of Prop. 98 funds?

A. There is no manipulation in the sense that the Governor’s plan will fully fund the Prop. 98 guarantee no matter what.  The manipulation will occur if the initiative does not pass which will permit moving state debt service into the Prop. 98 guarantee.

 

Q:  How much money will go to schools if the Governor’s initiative wins?

A:  He was not sure.  The new plan produces more revenue so the Prop. 98 guaranties should increase.

 

Q:  Where does the magic number of 37% in the weighted student formula come from?

A:  It comes from research all over the country that was gathered by theBerkleyresearchers for their study.  They did not do any direct research.  It is a “mushy” number because it begs the question– “37% of what?” There will be a big difference obviously if the basis is $5,000 or $10,000.

 

Q:  Why does the Governor’s weighted student formula only give more money to EIA and the poor? What about gifted students? What does it take for all students to perform at a minimum level?

A:  The GATE gifted program is included in AB18, but the amount will depend on local needs. Over 50 years of research shows EIA and poor students need more money. Studies show a child’s zip code will reflect his or her school performance because the lower income areas do not have the same level of resources.

 

 Cynthia Gunderson, Educational Programs Consultant, CDE

Report by Leslie Parker, Capistrano Unified Council

 

Ms. Gunderson is Special Programs Consultant for the Common Core State Standards Implementation and Transition Plan.  She was the lead consultant on the publication A Look at Kindergarten Through Grade Six in California Public Schools; Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

 

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed through a state-led initiative to establish consistent and clear education standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics that would better prepare students for success in college, career, and the competitive global economy. The California State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the standards on August 2, 2010 – Senate Bill 1 from the Fifth Extraordinary Session (SB X5 1).   The initiative took into account feedback and review from a variety of organizations including the American Council on Education, American Federation of Teachers, National Councils of Teachers of English/Mathematics, and National Education Association.

 

Forty-six states have now adopted the Common Core Standards.  (Minnesotahas only adopted the ELA standards.)  They are based on international benchmarks, set consistent expectations and offer an opportunity for states to share resources and reduce costs.

 

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

The new Math standards will prepare students for college-level courses and give them the skills needed for success in today’s workforce.  They are focused and rigorous, aim for clarity and specificity, stress conceptual understanding, balance mathematical understanding and procedural skill and are internationally benchmarked.  While the previous standards used a “spiral” method, the new standards stress conceptual understanding with 2 types of standards: Mathematics Practice which recurs throughout the grades and Mathematical Content which differs at each grade level.  K – 8 standards are grouped by grade level and are organized into domains that vary slightly by grade.  High school standards are organized into conceptual categories and have 2 different pathways available: Traditional Pathway by subject area (i.e.: Algebra, Geometry, etc.) or Integrated Pathway integrating all concepts in three stages (Mathematics I, II, III.)  Districts can choose which pathway to implement.

 

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Studies

 

The CCSS for English Language Arts (ELA) define what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century.  Students who master these standards will be fluent readers, critical thinkers, informative writers, effective speakers, and engaged listeners.  They will also use technology as a source of information and a means of communication.  The standards comprise three main sections.  First is the comprehensive K-5 section including standards for foundational skills (i.e.: alphabetic principles, phonics, word recognition.)  For grades 6-12, there are two content specific sections, one for English language arts and one for literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects.  Cross-discipline literacy is the key design.

 

The standards are divided into four strands: reading, writing, listening and speaking, and language.  Throughout all grades, there will be more emphasis on informational reading (30-40% more in early grades); more focus on text complexity – stressing quality over quantity; more focus on critical analysis – writing opinions, arguments and using evidence to support positions; introduction of collaborative conversations – improving speaking and listening skills.

 

 

Implementation and Transition Plan

The implementation of CCSS began as part of the application process for the Race to the Top (RTTT) grants.  Although Californiawas not a recipient of any RTTT funds, the CCSS is very valuable.  A link to the complete plan can be found at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cc/.

 

The Technology Readiness Tool is due spring 2012; the first of four professional development modules are due to be available in July 2012; the Assessment Transition Plan is due to the State Legislature by November 1, 2012; assessment testing and frameworks are planned through 2013-14 and finally, the first operational summative assessment is expected to be administered in the spring of 2015.

 

The implementation of the plan is set up in four phases: Awareness & Dissemination – building readiness – which is occurring now; Transition to the new standards- prepare materials and resources; Implementation – feedback systems, conduct evaluations, collaboration and web maintenance and expansion; Transformation – changing the way we teach and learn.

 

Related Legislation

Assembly Bill 124 (Fuentes)- established English Language Development (ELD) committee and revised/aligned the ELD standards with the CCSS to ensure English language learners are incorporated into the new standards.  These revised standards are to be adopted by fall of 2012.

 

Assembly Bill 250 (Brownley)- Sponsored by CDE Superintendent Torlakson; begins the process of developing and adopting curriculum frameworks aligned to the CCSS; extended the operative date of assessment system an extra year; creates professional learning modules and incorporates ELD standards in ELA framework.

 

The Math standards frameworks are expected to be ready for State Board of Education (SBE) action by September 2013 and out by 2016.  The ELA standards are about 6-8 months behind, set for SBE action in May of 2014 and due out by 2018.  The reason for this long time frame is that by statute, publishers have 30 months to make new materials.  The previous frameworks were stopped and this legislation wasn’t passed until October 2011.

 

Professional development modules will be available online for FREE.  Since teachers will not be restricted to using pacing guides for lesson plans, they will have an opportunity to be creative and really TEACH.

 

Assembly Bill 140 (Lowenthal)- Supplemental Instructional Materials Review; supplemental materials that help bridge the gap between the current content being used with the CCSS will be made available.  Only a minimum of content is required and it is up to the publishers (not mandatory) and must be at the lowest cost possible.  The second phase of the review is summer/fall of 2012 and materials will be available in 2013-14.

 

SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

On June 9, 2011,Californiajoined the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) as a governing state. The SBAC is a national consortium of 27 states that have been working collaboratively to develop a student assessment system aligned to a common core of academic content standards. Of those,Californiais one of 21 governing states, which allows decision-making participation. The SBAC focus is on assessing students annually in grades three through eight in English-language arts and mathematics and once in grades ten through twelve under current federal requirements.  SMARTER stands for Summative Multi-state Assessment Resources for Teachers and Educational Researchers.

The SBAC is an online computer adaptive summative assessment that gives a snapshot of student performance without a “one size fits all approach.” This assessment can be used to describe
student achievement and growth of student learning as part of program evaluation and school, district and state accountability systems.

The Technology Readiness Tool: An online dynamic and interactive technology readiness tool to support transitions and implementation is being developed on behalf of the assessment consortia and will be ready to roll out spring 2012.  The Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) results will be provided immediately and performance assessments administered by teachers will allow for quick use of the information by teachers.

For more information on SBAC:  http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/smarterbalanced.asp and http://www.k12.wa.us/SMARTER

 

Rick Simpson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Speaker John Perez

Report by Corri Roe, Capistrano Union Council

Rick has been working at the State Capital for 34 years as of April 1, 2012.  Served seven Speakers during his tenure.

 

Teacher Evaluations:

Many existing theories including the two prevailing – incentive driven (i.e. Michele Rhee’s policies in D.C.) and the more behavior driven “invest and empower and people will drive to succeed”.  Everyone agrees there is no good mechanism for evaluations inCalifornia.  The last law was in the 70′s.  There is one current Assembly Bill on evaluations (written by Rick)  AB 5:

 

AB5 was co-authored by Perez and Fuentes, and is in Senate Appropriations currently.  Based on the thought there must be a robust evaluation system if you want compensation reform.  CTA currently opposes AB5 but Rick is hopeful and fairly certain they will support.  AB5 supports evaluations with purpose of improving professional practice, and based on six criteria of teaching plus one criteria of tying in pupil academic progress.  Questions remain as to use for summative information or instruction on how to restructure teaching method.  Largest changes in law:  multiple observations, includes peer evaluations, and criteria of evidence of evaluation (must be negotiated through Collective Bargaining).

 

AB5’s fiscal challenge is that it will be mandated, which the law means state must provide district funds to enact.  Most likely could not be enacted until 2015/16.

 

Note:  Bill AB 48 in 2011 was Teacher Evaluations bill presented by Speaker

 

Budget / Education Funding / Initiatives/ Political Process:

AB1500 and 1501 “Middle Class Scholarship” bills to give access to our ever-increasing priced out middle class students to CSU/UC.  Includes repeal of out-of-state corporate tax definitions, and would reduce by 2/3 the cost to most middle class students of attending CSU/UC campus (middle class defined as family income of up to $150,000).  In Assembly at this time, Rick feels highly optimistic of bills being passed in Assembly.  Would require 2/3 vote as it is a tax shift.

 

During Reagan years as Governor,Californiawas investing $30-35 billion more in education than we are at this time.  1.9% more of Californians income was invested in education.  2007 study by UCSB found if the state as a whole wants to achieve our goals in education, 40% more investment would be needed (2007 numbers).  We are currently 20-25% below 2007 standards, thus giving us a gap of 60-65%.  Does the state have the will or $$ to make this investment, and where will the money be generated?  Rick’s possibilities:

 

Re-establish local revenue.  Example -San Franciscohas a .25 cent sales tax to fund local schools.  Look at all possible ways of increasing local revenues and do not haveSacramentocontrol all education revenues.  Local bonds from a marginal increase of property taxes could be another revenue source.   “We do not live in a democracy, we live in a Republic.  If you don’t like how leaders are taxing or spending, fire their asses.  Let’s not put an initiative on the ballots for everything”.   Could lead to equity issues among cities / counties (i.e.Santa Anavs.Laguna Beach).  Don’t use parcel taxes…parcels don’t increase, rate has to.    Rick states there have been large “give-aways” the last few years…DMV, index changes of personal income, Prop 13, etc.

 

Last Thoughts:

Rick states Governor Browns “Weighted Student Formula” proposal in his budget to change school funding probably will likely not go through in its current form.  There are too many winners and losers with no accountability measures as to how the money is spent.  The general question of how to allocate the resources to the districts does not answer the larger question of how to correct funding levels.

 

TUESDAY AFTERNOON LEGISLATOR VISITS – STATE CAPITOL

 

Small group legislator/staff meetings included:

  • Assembly Members: Allan Mansoor, Tony Mendoza, Jim Silva, Jose Solario, Curt Hagman, Don Wagner and Chris Norby
  • Senators:  Mark Wyland, Lou Correa, Tom Harman, Mimi Walters, Bob Huff

 

We Went on a Safari in 2012

 

Eighty-four volunteers from PTAs throughout O.C.

Met up in Sacramento for a legislative sa-far-i.

With our list of talking points, we embarked upon our mission

To gain more information and make known our position.

 

PTA prez Carol introduced our new BFF named Molly

Who reminded us that OCOF is not at all a folly;

But is instead a goal that together parents can achieve

To ensure our children’s future through the funding schools receive.

 

We shared our stories of success in gathering petitions.

Prizes were awarded for the leaders in competitions.

We learned about Jerry’s tax measure and what is does to “Ed”;

And afterwards there was no doubt that ours is best instead!

 

For objective explanations, no one beats the LAO.

When it comes to school funding, there is nothing they don’t know.

Fensterwald discussed the weighted model and we all think it stinks!

Delay it to the future once lawmakers work out all the kinks.

 

Kevin Gordon’s speech on tax measures was very frank and blunt;

He says poll numbers are low and that it may be time to punt.

But PTA and Molly will not quit – we’re in this to the end.

We’re fighting for the future of children and on us they depend!

 

Julia Brownley is Education’s friend and we’re happy to report

That she still has many bills in draft that give schools support.

Standards for children’s learning are changing with the Common Core.

There’s no money for this task, so the transition is a chore.

 

Rick Simpson filled us in on many things in Sacramento.

After 34 years in town, he understands the “ebb and flow”.

We learned many facts from our speakers and we knew how to impress

Lawmakers with our knowledge and make those meetings a success!

 

Yes, we went to Sacramento on a safari for “big game”,

As the advocates for our children and fighters in their name.

Now is the time for bold action so that things won’t stay the same.

A better, brighter future for our kids will always be our aim!

 

 

– Kathy Fischer, Aliso Niguel High PTSA, 4/6/12

Kim Anderson advocacy@fourthdistrictpta.org
Lori Abbott sac-Saf@fourthdistrictpta.org

 

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