Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 29, 2012

Pulling your weight

Filed under: Alameda, Election, School — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Happy Leap Day!

Has anyone read Alameda School Board member Mike McMahon’s analysis of how Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed new education funding system would work?   If not, it really is great, but it comes with a few caveats but the big one is that the voters will pass the big tax initiative come November in order for the new funding scheme to be in place.


In his January budget proposal, Governor Brown has proposed to combine base revenue limits and categorical spending into one weighted student formula. The idea is after a five year phase in, school districts would more local control on how to spend their money. When you compare the district by district impact you can see dramatic shifts can occur. For example, in Alameda county where Dublin Unified would start with $877 more per student compared to Alameda Unified in 2012/13, by 2017/18 Alameda Unified would be receiving $626 more per student compared to Dublin Unified.

The Educated Guess blog, a part of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation blog has extensively covered the issue of the possible weighted formula.  And even uses Alameda as an example case of how it would all work, excerpt:

Using Alameda County, above, to illustrate, the most important columns in the chart are 5, 11, and 14.

  • Column 5: What each district will receive in per-student funding in 2012-13, pre-weighted student formula: $6,302 in the case of Alameda City Unified. No district will receive less than this. (HTS refers to home-to-school transportation, which will be protected next year only.)
  • Column 11: The per-student funding in 2017-18, after the full implementation of the weighted student formula ($7,981 for Alameda City Unified).
  • Column 14 (far right): The dollar difference between the 2012-13 and 2017-18 funding ($1,679 for Alameda City Unified).

While Alameda would gain some modest — but welcome — increases under the proposal, some districts like Oakland and Hayward see significant increases under the weighted formula: (click to enlarge)

Mike McMahon is projecting that:

Given the dramatic swings in funding for school districts, I expect the Legislature will not adopt a weighted student formula in 2012. Given the uncertainity of November tax initiatives, I would expect the weighted student formula legislation be examined in 2013.

And that may be so, but at least in the Alameda County examples, the only districts that take large funding hits are smaller ones  — see Mountain House (47 students) and Sunol Glen (255) — and these small districts may not make enough noise to make a difference.



  1. Include the logic of it…(from the blog)

    In its broadest terms, the weighted student formula system gives extra dollars to districts with large numbers of English-learning students and those from families with low incomes – out of recognition that these children require extra resources to compensate for their disadvantages, and perhaps to attract and retain good teachers.

    Those districts with very low percentages of these children not only would get relatively less, but, like Pleasanton, would not benefit, after years of facing substantial cuts in state funding, from what Finance officials are predicting will be substantial increases in Proposition 98 funding levels in the next half-dozen years.

    English Language Development classes do require smaller class sizes, and students with low skill levels will only get better with pull-out classes and support classes. But I thought Oakland funding is currently one of the highest in the Bay Area, and they are (based on CST test scores) doing a horrible job in educating children.

    So voters in Alameda should support this because?

    Comment by Really? — February 29, 2012 @ 6:38 am

  2. In addition to Gov. Brown’s big tax proposal, I read that there are two other somewhat related initiatives that are gathering signatures. The article states that pollsters found “… if all three appeared on the ballot … none would pass.” I read it here:

    Comment by Tom Schweich — February 29, 2012 @ 7:16 am

  3. The Governor’s proposal to move a weighted student formula can be separated from his tax initiative. The tax initiative is the Governor’s attempt to solve the state budget deficit problem. His weighted student formula needs school funding to recover rapidly over the next five years so school districts like Dublin and Pleasanton would at least maintain their funding levels. The Governor’s proposal maybe in response to the current Robles-Wong case filed against the state of California when the Governor was Attorney General. He could be attempting to address the merits of the lawsuit by proposing a more rational funding system for schools.

    As for competing tax initiatives circulating for signatures I wrote this post:

    Comment by Mike McMahon — February 29, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  4. I wanna go to Mountain House.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 29, 2012 @ 9:19 am

  5. Jack,

    Overall Expenses for AUSD Were 102,412,717 for fiscal Year ended June 30,2011.

    Works out the Taxpayers in Alameda spend over 11,000 + a Year on Each Student for Schools an Education including the 1000 + students from out of the District.

    Comment by John — February 29, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

  6. That is working off the 9,000 students the school district Claims as Students.

    There are sources quoted from 8500 -9500

    Comment by John — February 29, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

  7. Context : One in Nine students tested was marked present for one period when they were in fact absent the entire day.

    Cause : Teachers are not taking attendance accurately.

    Context :Two out of fifteen absent notes tested show that absences were recorded incorrectly as present.

    Effect : This occurrence presents an overstatement of ADA

    From the Audit report

    Comment by John — February 29, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  8. LAUSD spends $30K per student

    AUGUST 20, 2010


    The research by Adam Schaeffer of the Cato Institute’s Center for Education Freedom seemed shocking: The Los Angeles Unified School District spent $29,780 per student in fiscal year 2007-08. That’s way above the $10,000 as advertised by the school district, and as used in most studies.

    Basically, what Schaeffer found was that the LAUSD doesn’t count capital spending, such as from local and state bond measures passed by voters. For example, $1.18 billion was spent in 2007-08 from Measure R, which 64 percent of voters passed in March 2004. And the district spent $668 million from state Proposition 55, also on the March 2004 ballot. According to Ballotopedia, it barely passed with 50.9 percent of the votes. Both were bonds.

    Those and similar measures were passed during the boom times of the California economy. It’s a good question whether voters would pass them during the current deep recession. It’s also curious that these bonds, and similar ones, were passed at a time when state and LAUSD student enrollment has been declining.

    Why isn’t this money accounted for in the usual per-pupil tallies? “They act as if its ‘bond revenue. Oh, it’s not tax money’,” Schaeffer told me. “What the districts do is like credit card debt. It’s revolving. When you bring it up, they always move the topic of the conversation to, ‘we froze salaries and cut positions’.”

    LAUSD responds
    I called up LAUSD, talked to Spokesperson Lydia Ramos, and sent her links to Schaeffer’s research. A week later I called her for her perspective. “Essentially it’s going to be difficult to comment,” she replied. “Most school districts don’t count capital funding” in budget reports. “We obviously are doing our best to pass every dollar down to the classroom.”

    I pointed out that, when I buy something at Walmart, the price includes the costs of capital spending for buildings. “That’s not how we view our work,” she replied. And she said of the money sent for capital construction from Sacramento, “That’s really a state decision. When no one else does it” – includes capital spending in per-pupil spending numbers. “Why are we perceived as under-reporting when no one uses this methodology?”

    I brought up Schaeffer’s number of $29,780 per student and asked if that was correct. “You’re using a methodology that only you are using,” Ramos replied. “No, that’s not accurate. That’s not what we’re doing. I’m going to have to let you go. This is an issue to take up with the state, or your local district, to see what they are doing.” [This is the first time in my 35 years of journalism that an official spokesperson has hung up on me.]

    Because LAUSD gets both state and federal tax dollars, its spending is of interest to those outside the district’s boundaries.

    Legitimate costs
    “Those are legitimate costs to include,” Izumi told me of the capital costs. “They can say they don’t count it. But the specification for those costs always is that they will help kids.”

    For example, as Ballotopedia recorded, Prop. 55’s ballot question asked state voters, “Should the state sell twelve billion three hundred million dollars ($12,300,000,000) in general obligation bonds for construction and renovation of K-12 school facilities and higher education facilities?” The bond had almost no opposition. Major funding behind the measure came from the California Teachers Association and the California Building Industry Association.

    The cost of Prop. 55 is about $823 million per year, a significant contributor to the state’s current $19 billion budget deficit. LAUSD’s 694,288 students in 2007-08 were about 11 percent of the state’s approximately 6.3 million public-school students.

    As to the LAUSD’s insistence on excluding capital costs, Izumi asked, “Would these kids learn the same if they were sitting in the park some place? To not include those costs is only to give half the story about what’s being spent in those schools. If the district had a disagreement with what the Cato Institute put out, then they should engage in argument about it. If the district isn’t willing to engage, then you have to wonder how strong a case they have.

    “They didn’t say they disagreed with it. They just said they didn’t include the figures the Cato Institute used. That gives credence to Cato’s methodology. Public schools often aren’t willing to engage in debate.”

    For its $29,780 spent per student, LAUSD’s graduation rate is 40.6 percent, second worst in the country.

    Comment by John — February 29, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

  9. I just like looking at a mountain from my house.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 29, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  10. Jack I’m sure you can find peace anywhere. It’s not a place but your way of traveling.

    Comment by John — February 29, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

  11. Interesting Video and you can see why Teachers are PO.Let alone Students and Parents

    Fiscal Undertow: How Public Schools Are Drowning State and Local Budgets, and What to Do about It
    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Comment by John — February 29, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  12. I’m interested in Mike McMahons opinion on Who do we Believe and how can we honestly handle this.

    Health care is the budget buster at the federal level, but K-12 education is what’s poised to bankrupt state and local governments. Spending on public education eats up around half of the general budget in most states, and it’s by far the priciest single item. For every dollar raised by state and local governments for Medicaid, three dollars go to K-12 schooling. As a result, combined state budget gaps in the high tens of billions of dollars are predicted through at least 2012.

    That’s the immediate problem. Just over the horizon, things look worse. State public-employee pension systems are facing a trillion-dollar shortfall in their commitments, driven in large part by the massive costs of public-school employee benefits.

    So exactly how bad is the education spending crisis? Is there anything we can do to avoid huge state and local tax increases or a serious decline in the breadth and quality of educational services?

    Join us for a discussion of the most important state and local spending issue of 2011 … and many years to come

    Comment by John — February 29, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  13. There is some very exciting stuff going on in Education. Sal Khan interviews one of the new members of his Team Elizabeth Slavitt . Her Passion and Excitement is very contagious. World Class Stuff.

    Comment by John — March 1, 2012 @ 2:19 am

  14. Great discussion with yourself John. Loved the posting every hour, and then again at 2:19 AM. Are you employed?

    Comment by Really? — March 1, 2012 @ 6:16 am

  15. Really. Yes I am. I work the the hookers and pimp bankers hours. 8-4 am had the day off. I’m sure you already knew that we have math problems on actually how much we spend per student. Always attack messenger and not message. You Certainly are not interested in solving financial crisis in our schools and looking for better ways to educate the students..

    Comment by John — March 1, 2012 @ 7:28 am

  16. John is tireless in his advocacy, Really? But it is the same stuff over and over, I guess on the theory that if you say the same thing one thousand times, loudly, someone will listen at least once. Unfortunately for John, I zoned out some time ago. I got his point and moved on, so the 999 other times he has given us his point was wasted on me.

    Comment by Kate Quick — March 1, 2012 @ 7:31 am

  17. I believe in Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics is in the eye of the beholder to determine if the glass is half full or half empty.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — March 1, 2012 @ 8:28 am

  18. Thanks Mike……I’m sure not much has changed in 7 – 10 years in California Schools .

    Data: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2002

    Data: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Common Core of Data 2004-2005

    I was hoping we would have more current info.

    Churchlady…… what I posted is all new to me…….I’m not advocating anything……Just trying to get educated on what is going on in Education.

    Comment by John — March 1, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  19. 10
    Great picture, John. It might be the place, anyway, I’m still looking. Heading for Belize tomorrow

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 1, 2012 @ 9:35 am

  20. Have a Fabulous Trip Jack……Enjoy Baron Bliss Day ……You better Send Churchlady a Card.

    Comment by John — March 1, 2012 @ 9:45 am

  21. Here is a current source of data that is a snapshot that can be used to draw conclusions that support various point of views on the public education effectiveness:

    Comment by Mike McMahon — March 1, 2012 @ 11:05 am

  22. Thanks Mike…Great Stuff..I bookmarked it so I will review when I have a few months of light reading…LOL…..I know you have studied this S___ til your eyes are bloodshot……Everyone has their bias and puts their sugar and spin in their reports. We have some brillant people in Education and alot of new interest with Technology. I just think it’s a fabulous time for Education.

    Comment by John — March 1, 2012 @ 11:44 am

  23. To all those that think the Khan Academy is about Replacing Teachers I think miss what they are really trying to do.

    “Sal at Khan Academy ”

    1. We believe that great teachers are the most important part of a deep educational experience because class time should be for exploration and mentoring alongside students rather than lectures. We are spending significant resources on coaching and teacher dashboard functionality (now being used by over 10,000 teachers world-wide). We are also working very deeply with over 50 teachers who are using our tools in deep ways and helping us redefine the technology. We also have 4 former teachers on our relatively small staff.

    2. The videos are a small part of what the KA is about. Most of our resources are being spent on interactive exercises, teacher dashboards, and data analytics. We are working with some of the best data scientists, neuroscientists, and ed-researchers in the world to better understand efficacy of what we are doing and how we can quickly iterate to make it better. We are in the process of having a neuroscience post-doc from Stanford and a doctoral ed student at Harvard work with us us full-time to do research with us.

    3. KA has never been about replacing teachers. It has always been about rethinking the classroom. We believe that technology can enable truly differentiated instruction that frees up time for true open-ended exploration. For example, the Marlborough School in Los Angeles is using KA in a mult-age setting (7th through 12th grade girls working alongside each other). There is significant peer-to-peer instruction and their amazing teacher has been able to spend much more meaningful time with the students. The ideas of non-age-based cohorts, peer-2-peer instruction, true differentiation, and project based learning are very old, but they have never gone mainstream because they were logistically difficult. Technology makes them viable options.

    4. We think that we are in the very early days, but we are trying to improve and iterate on a daily basis using real data from our nearly 5 million users who are doing over 2 million exercises per day on our platform. It is by no means perfect but we think it can only get better. We’re also excited about what we see as a new wave of investment in the area. On the for-profit side, there has been investment in codeacademy and udemy amongst others (we get emails for newly fund ed-tech companies on a daily basis) and on the not-for-profit side you have initiatives like KA and MITx.

    The students, teachers, and administrators of Los Altos School District, which is implementing Khan Academy district-wide, seem to believe KA is more than a collection of videos.

    Teacher Perspectives:
    Administrator Perspectives:
    Student Perspectives:

    Comment by John — March 1, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  24. 20
    Good idea John, I’ll send it to :

    Churchlady (AKA Kate Quick)
    Somewhere near Washington Park
    Alameda, CA 94501

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 1, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  25. Yes Jack she has been a little cranky……A postcard might perk her up…..Whatever you do don’t address it to Somewhere near Lower Washington Park….There is no Lower in Churchlady….That’s why her Superior Dance is so Special…..Have a great time.

    Comment by John — March 1, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  26. Notice, John, the Churchlady ‘zoned out’ in 16 but you can bet $s to gonads she reads everything you write, then gets zoned out (stoned)…great gal!

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 1, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  27. Google’s first employee leaves for new role at Khan Academy

    “Craig’s been with Google since the early days. He was instrumental in the development of search and made numerous contributions to Google over the years. We wish him all the best at the Khan Academy and know that he will do great things to help them promote education around the world.”

    Shantanu Sinha, the president and COO of Khan Academy, also emailed a statement on the group’s latest hire, saying:

    “We are thrilled to have Craig Silverstein join our team. His deep technical knowledge and organization-building experience will be extremely valuable to us as we grow as an organization. We are excited that talented individuals like Craig believe so passionately in our mission and are willing to join us in our quest of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere.”,0,1839314.story

    Comment by John — March 9, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

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