Money Talks: New Research and Candid Conversations About School Finance
The 30th annual EdSource Forum in April 2007 focused on school finance in California with a special emphasis on the findings of the Getting Down To Facts project. The day's discussions were enhanced by a slate of speakers who brought an extraordinary breadth and depth of experience as well as a wide diversity of opinion to the event.
EdSource's new DVD, California School Finance: Why Does It Matter?
helped set the stage for the discussions, presenting a variety of
perspectives on the most pressing issues and concerns surrounding
John Mockler, a school finance expert and EdSource boardmember, started his keynote address with a witty recounting of 10 lessons he has learned about school finance reform including, "Everything you say, good or bad, about the public schools of California is true somewhere in this vast and complex state." Mockler also presented state test data that showed notable gains by students in English language arts and math, including increases in proficiency in both subjects and higher-level course taking in math. He particularly focused on the gains made by Latinos, who will soon represent the majority of California's students.
The next presenter, Susanna Loeb, coordinator of the Getting Down to Facts school finance research project, summarized key findings from the research and described several approaches used to try to determine how much money California schools need to provide an adequate education. Loeb emphasized the challenge of funding schools fairly when students come to school with different needs, and require different amounts and kinds of resources.
In the afternoon, a panel discussed The Politics and Possibilities for School Finance Reform in California. Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Association (CSBA), began the afternoon by presenting the results of more than 70 interviews reflecting differing perspectives about how California's school funding system can be improved. Then he joined the panel which included:
- Christopher Cabaldon, president of EdVoice;
- Lynne Faulks (in northern California), legislative manager, CTA.
- Lawrence O. Picus, professor, USC Rossier School of Education and national school finance consultant;
- Richard Simpson, deputy chief of staff, Office of the Speaker of the Assembly;
- Dom Summa (in southern California), assistant executive director, negotiations and organizational development, California Teachers Association (CTA);
In a lively debate that included responses to questions from the audience, panelists generally agreed on the need to reform a broken school finance system but expressed differing views on how that could be accomplished, and the political challenges involved in reaching that goal.
The Forum and panel were moderated by Christopher Cross, a specialist in K-12 federal policy and a member of the EdSource board.(Video Help)
EdSource DVD Presentation
California School Finance: Why Does It Matter?
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Forum and Panel Moderator
Christopher Cross provides an introduction to the day's discussions.
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How We Got Where We Are: California School Finance Since 1970
John Mockler offers a witty and provocative view of four decades of California education policy and finance.
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||Presentation slides - updated to reflect 2007 CST data
New Research Key Findings: Getting Down to Facts School Finance Project
Susanna Loeb discusses the findings of the newly-released Getting Down to Facts project.
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Candid Conversation: The Politics and Possibilities for School Finance Reform in California (Panel Discussion)
Scott Plotkin begins the afternoon by talking about the California School Boards Association's recent public engagement campaign to gather perspectives from stakeholders on the needs of the public school system. He then joins the panel for a broader discussion on the policy implications for California school finance. The panel included:
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EdSource would like to thank the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Divisions of Communications/KETN and Technology Support Services for videotaping the Thursday Forum and providing these video clips so our web audience can view them; and Joel Montero at the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) for funding KETN's technical services to EdSource.