Mr. Governor, our youth represents our state's future - addressing and correcting the discrepancies that will be addressed in this memo should be a main priority and maybe even the ultimate objective of the Williams Class action lawsuit educational budget adjustments. The Courts have spoken and have obviously concurred that the California Educational System has been broken for quite some time and is in need of serious financial reform. The decision reached by the courts in the Williams' Class action lawsuit affirms the requirement of the State's obligation to provide an adequate educational process for this state's citizens.
The Williams' Class action lawsuit has become a successful demonstration that points out the blearing differences between an education received by our states rich and poor children when it comes to a K. through 12th grade education. The California State Legislature has confirmed that there is a significant funding disparity amongst K. through 12th grade school districts that need to be researched and eventually addressed. Governor Schwarzenegger, the fact of the matter is that the school aged children of California in grades K. through 12 that are less economically privileged have been required to receive their education in sub-par or shoddy overcrowded schools. At the same time, these students have been forced to contend with the additional disadvantages and burdens caused by textbook shortages and having teachers who are very often unqualified.
Due to the inequities in our state funding and support efforts, these schools work with less money per student but are nevertheless expected to meet the same high California educational system standards and requirements as fully funded or wealthier schools and districts. "That's because districts would still have to meet all the state's requirements for operating specific programs -- but with less money. Districts would still have to keep class sizes small in grades K-3, for instance, but they'd have to do it with 3.7% less money." (Hill, 2002) This convoluted financing is the root cause of a majority of the educational problems in California and therefore threatens to bring the whole system crashing down.
The objectives of the Williams' Class action lawsuit aimed to even the playing field in the California educational system between the state's groups that are labeled the "haves" and the groups we can consider as the "have nots." Our state's students in the middle class to affluent classes continue to use schools and school districts that consistently maintain an expectation that each student receives a superior education that meets and adequately prepares the student for a high quality of life. California's poor children have no such expectation. It is time to raise the bar for our state's poor students, schools and districts. As a parent, you yourself Mr. Governor, would never except or expect your children to have to learn in schools that far too many Californian children are required to attend on a daily basis.
The schools the Williams' Class action lawsuit bring to the forefront of the California educational system are the schools that suffer from rampant overcrowding that can only be compared to the nation's overcrowded prison system. There is no irony here. The schools for the poor are known to hire far too many untrained teachers and the entire California educational chain of command should be made aware of the fact that the schools for the poor are in such terrible physical shape that the children literally endanger their lives by going to school. Examples of dreadfully filthy bathrooms, leaky roofs and foundations and broken heating and cooling systems are the norm in our urban and poor communities. Couple these dangerous scenarios with the fact that the students do not have adequate amounts of textbooks or they learn from out-of-date obsolete books makes it obvious that the budget and penalties from the Williams Class action lawsuit should be used to balance the system between the rich and the poor.
Mr. Governor, since you are a parent first and a politician second, we are all sure that you know that an adequate education can be defined as our state's students receiving sufficient oral and written communication skills. With the fact that our society is changing so quickly, California's students must have the ability to function in this new and highly complex society. California's students will all have to understand any and all issues that affect him or her in regard to their immediate community and the nation as a whole. And, as our nation ages, our students will be required to posses an ample knowledge of both mental and/or physical wellness scenarios in order to be in a position to reduce the burden on our nation's already troubled healthcare system. Of course, these educational requirements must not interfere with a student's ability to address whatever cultural heritage is prevalent in that student's life. Our well-off children are not the only ones who will require a sufficient knowledge of economic, social, and political systems.
We must all face the fact that our less economically fortunate children will also need to make informed life choices. Our poor children will need to have the same sufficient understanding of the governmental processes that elected you in and Grey Davis out. Of course, the most significant aspect of any California education for both rich and poor students is to provide the student with the proper training and/or preparation for any future academic and/or vocational opportunities that may arise. Our California educational system is only providing an adequate education if these children are able to find decent jobs to support themselves and their current or future families while providing the state community with healthy and intelligent citizens.
The immediately obvious fact is that the educational finance system must be completely overhauled to meet the above criteria for an adequate education. This will require you as our governor to make education the number one top priority for the state of California. The children are our future so they should take the lead in your agenda just as your own children are the main objective in your famous family meetings. You will be required to make the entire state Legislature spend the necessary hours that will be required to form and coordinate the various committees needed that can actually improve the California educational system.
Your office should propose one simple funding mechanism that would distribute funding based on a weighted student formula. The formula should include a base allocation that could equal the funding that each district received with the additionally weighted funds for students with additional needs such as special education, poverty, or the large number of California students dealing with English as a second language.
This will obviously not be the first attempt to correct the distribution of educational funding. Historically, as you are most likely aware, when funding was successfully negotiated for the poorer school districts your predecessor Grey Davis was forced to veto the budget simply because, as is usually the case, a few of the large school districts successfully lobbied to convince legislators to distort the formula used for distributing the funding. Fortunately, that particular budget did not get approved because that would have only made the unfair distributions more obvious. Fiscal band-aids have not worked in the past and they will not work now. Structural reform is mandatory to correct the funding discrepancies. The crucial question that must be answered is:
What is the best use of the state's future budget with the Federal funding made available by the Williams' Class action lawsuit so as to adequately redistribute the state's educational resources to address California's Educational Finance System deficiencies?
As of the writing of this memo, the task of addressing the educational components of the California budget must obviously consider the fact that the state is facing a multi-billion dollar budget crisis that entails a less than smooth resolution to any educational funding issues. Historically, anyone who was someone in state government concurred that cuts were needed throughout the state budget - unfortunately, this includes some educational programs. However, as political waste is rampant throughout California's state government and legislature, we should all be working with an understanding that California's current educational system should be one of the final chopping blocks in regard to budget reductions. The California educational system is already well under funded as the Williams' Class action lawsuit clearly demonstrates. Besides, the well-connected and politicized school districts, which usually entail only the more affluent districts, will have lobbies that will strengthen their position to avoid any budget cuts that would affect their systems while the poor districts would receive the brunt of the cuts therefore enhancing the original scope of the problem.
One of the sure ways to use a correct formula for fund distributions is through legislation. It is imperative that the urban and poor districts are treated fairly when it is time to allocate the budget so to ensure that the districts in need receive an adequate level of funding required to provide an adequate education.…