Conduct a pilot test of a Wisconsin-style child care program in up to four counties in California, directed at addressing unmet needs of working poor families.
The current child care system treats families with similar incomes differently, depending on whether or not they have received public assistance in the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. In general, families that have been on CalWORKs and subsequently leave the program can continue to receive child care. However, working families that have never been on CalWORKs receive subsidized child care only if space is available. Generally, waiting lists for such child care are common. By contrast, eligibility for child care in Wisconsin is independent of welfare status. Once enrolled, families remain eligible for child care as long as their income remains at or below a certain level. A multicounty "pilot" would enable the Legislature to determine the impacts of a Wisconsin-style subsidized child care system on families and public costs, with the eventual possibility of addressing unmet child care needs of the "working poor."
Please see our 2000-01 Analysis, page E-94.
Todd Bland: 445-6442 or Anthony Simbol: 445-8641
Require school districts to use the same number of teachers mandated by the current class size reduction (CSR) program, but allow schools to deploy teachers as best meets students' needs, rather than the rigid 20 to 1 formula for each classroom required by current law. This proposal would not decrease funding for CSR; it would provide for more flexible and effective implementation.
One size does not always fit all. Our proposal for increased flexibility could help schools improve educational outcomes. For example, our proposal would
permit one-on-one or small group tutoring to supplement classroom instruction, something that is impractical under current CSR constraints. Our proposal also
would alleviate counterproductive size effects of the current rigid formula, such as the busing of children among schools in order to assure that each classroom in
each school not exceed
20 children. It also would ease the problems that participation in the program poses for schools with serious facilities constraints.
Please see our 1997-98 Analysis, page E-52.
Rob Manwaring: 445-8641
Create an education technology bank for school districts to borrow money to purchase computers, equipment, wiring, or other infrastructure items.
Prospects for the successful use of computers in school instruction are maximized if (1) school districts have a comprehensive technology plan that will effectively integrate computers into curriculum and instruction and (2) districts have some investment "stake" which creates an incentive for efficient use of the technology. An education technology bank (involving a revolving loan fund) would support schools and districts that are ready to implement their comprehensive technology plans, allow schools to spread the cost of investing in technology over several years, and help schools leverage funds from other sources. The revolving aspect of the fund would require a one-time commitment of "seed" money which would create an ongoing source of funding for education technology. To encourage districts to use this revolving fund, the Legislature could make the loans interest-free and forgive part of the principal over the life of the loan.
Please see our 2000-01 Analysis, page E-77.
Jennifer Borenstein: 445-8641
Provide annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) on a sliding scalelarger for low-wealth districtsrather than the current approach of fixed amounts per student regardless of whether districts are rich or poor. In doing so, the Legislature should specify a practical equalization goal. For example, the Legislature might specify a goal of equalizing revenue limits for 90 percent of the state's average daily attendance.
Providing higher COLAs for low-wealth districts, over time, will help eliminate the per-student funding disparities that exist among districts. Under the current COLA approach, funding disparities shrink slowly and never entirely disappear.
Please see our 2000-01 Analysis, page E-69.
Erik Skinner: 445-8641
Create a task force to increase the number of schools receiving E-rate subsidies and authorize a program of planning grants to local education agencies (LEAs) to develop E-rate subsidy proposals.
E-rate is a multibillion dollar federal subsidy program that provides discounts on telecommunication services to schools and libraries based on the population of students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch. California has received a disproportionately low share of federal E-rate subsidies (about $50 million less each year than would occur under a proportional share). This is, in part, because many LEAs lack the capacity to meet application requirements such as developing a technology plan, evaluating bids, and meeting numerous filing dates. A statewide task force could coordinate with the relevant state departments to assist schools with the application process and would increase awareness of the E-rate program. One-time planning grants would assist schools and districts in applying for the program.
Please see our 2000-01 Analysis, page E-78.
Jennifer Borenstein: 445-8641
Create an ongoing program for (1) evaluating K-12 education programs and (2) conducting demonstration projects to assess the impact of various reform strategies on student achievement. (Examples: strategies such as site-based management, distance learning, extended school day or year programs, and information technology.)
What is the best way for the Legislature to spend additional funds on education? This question is often difficult to answer without an evaluation of the costs and benefits of education proposals. Creating an ongoing program for evaluation, and conducting controlled demonstration projects of reform proposals prior to statewide implementation, would allow policymakers to test proposals prior to investing hundreds of millions of dollars on untested ideas.
Please see our A K-12 Master Plan, (May 1999), page 40, and our 1997-98 Analysis, page E-80.
Rob Manwaring: 445-8641
Eliminate the Education Code provision that reduces each school district's revenue limit payments by the amount attributed as "savings" related to district contributions to the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS), and thereby increase general purpose funding of schools.
The PERS reduction was a budget savings mechanism adopted in 1981. Through a complex series of calculations, this provision reduces each school district's revenue limit payments on the basis that school district costs for contributions to the PERS are less today than in the 1982-83 fiscal year. In effect, current law "captures" for the state all savings that otherwise would accrue to school districts from reduced employer contribution rates for PERS. The state does not adjust revenue limit payments for changes in the cost of other specific education inputs (such as maintenance, utilities, or payroll). Our recommendation would simplify administration of revenue limits and send an important "signal" to school districts that they need to be responsible for future changes in PERS employer rates.
Please see our 1998-99 Analysis, page E-44.
Erik Skinner: 445-8641
Broaden the permissible uses of the $50 million annually appropriated by Proposition 227, in order to better address the needs of English language learner pupils.
Presently, the $50 million annual appropriation made by Proposition 227 is narrowly restricted to English language instruction to adults who pledge to subsequently tutor school children in the learning of English. Our proposal would further the overall purpose of the propositionto teach all children English as rapidly and effectively as possibleby allowing school districts to select additional strategies for delivering English tutoring and other specialized assistance in English instruction. For example, under our proposal, districts could pay for English tutoring of pupils by tutors who already know English. Proposition 227 specifically provides that the Legislature may amend the proposition to "further the act's purposes" through a bill (passed by two-thirds vote and signed by the Governor).
Please see our 1999-00 Analysis, page E-44.
Anthony Simbol: 445-8641
Direct the University of California (UC) to increase total fees for nonresident students to cover the average state cost per student.
In 1998-99, there were 6,670 undergraduate and 6,090 graduate and professional-school students attending UC that were not residents of the state. Whereas the
Master Plan for Higher Education calls for nonresident students to pay not less than the average cost of providing instruction and related services, they pay far
less than full cost. For 1998-99, nonresident undergraduate and graduate students paid an average of $13,616 in fees to UC. This was 87 percent of the $15,600
average General Fund cost per full-time-equivalent student at UC that year. In
1998-99, the university provided an average of $4,795 in financial aid from state and university sources per nonresident student. Nonresident students therefore paid, net of state financial aid, an average of $8,821 for their UC education in 1998-99. This is approximately 57 percent of the average General Fund cost per UC student in that year.
Please see our 2000-01 Analysis, page E-151.
Buzz Breedlove: 445-8641
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