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Elementary Students in Class. (Photo: SB Professional/Shutterstock)

Students Trapped in California’s Failing Public Schools Deserve a Way Out

Under California’s public school funding, per pupil spending is actually $23,723

By Katy Grimes, March 20, 2023 8:41 am

During the pandemic, funding for California’s K-12 schools and community colleges spiked from $79.3 billion in 2019-20 to $110.4 billion in 2021-22 — a 39% increase. Also during the pandemic, California public school enrollment dropped by more than a quarter of a million students. For the first time in 20 years, public school enrollment in the state is below 6 million, says education scholar Lance Izumi.

Gov. Gavin Newsom bragged, “we’ve made record investments in education,” as if spending more money actually helps children learn better. But the school lockdowns showed us that it doesn’t.

Lance Izumi. (Photo: Lance Izumi)

“The big question is whether all this government spending has produced any significant bang for the buck.  The answer is no,” said Izumi, senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute and author of Choosing Diversity: How Charter Schools Promote Diverse Learning Models and Meet the Diverse Needs of Parents and Children, and the co-author along with Wenyuan Wu and McKenzie Richards of the new book, The Great Parent Revolt: How Parents and Grassroots Leaders Are Fighting Critical Race Theory in America’s Schools.

“While government spending burgeoned, student achievement plummeted, children’s mental health suffered and schools became more dangerous, which is an outcome that demands a better solution such as giving parents greater educational choice,” Izumi said.

Izumi said the poor performance of California’s public schools is so bad that students are just not showing up for class.

“The Los Angeles Times has reported that California parents are pulling their children out of school ‘because they’ve lost confidence in the education system’s ability to meet their needs.’”

Who is choosing to home-school right now is just as fascinating as the why,” the LAT says. Overall, the proportion of American families home-schooling at least one child grew from 5.4% in spring 2020 to 11.1% in fall 2021, according to a U.S. Census Bureau analysis. Meanwhile, the number of Black families choosing to home-school increased five-fold during that time, from 3.3% to 16.1%. (As I explain in my story, one partial explanation is that because of distance learning, Black parents for the first time got a front-row seat to the biased treatment that pervades so many classrooms and the education system overall.)”

As we’ve seen with the parent revolt, “parents are not going to stand for the poor performance, poor campus safety and ideological indoctrination within the public schools,” Izumi said at a recent PRI event. “Whether California lawmakers give it to them or not, they will find better choices for their children. Therefore, for the sake of California’s cities, let us hope that policymakers open up those choices for our state’s parents.”

One particularly egregious example of this ideological indoctrination the Globe recently reported on: Governor Gavin Newsom’s wife, “First Partner” Jennifer Siebel Newsom, through her non-profit The Representation Project, has released four films advocating gender justices and is selling them to California public schools.

With her Governor husband, who would dare deny her solicitations?

Jennifer Siebel Newsom is credited as a writer and director on each of these films. Two of the movies feature Gavin Newsom himself, and many of the lesson plan activities are oriented toward engaging children in social and political activism.

The Globe watched Newsom’s Misrepresentation Middle School movie. It’s a documentary, but it hammers strong feminist and gender justice messages for school kids ages 11-14.

The movie is not age appropriate for Middle Schoolers, and really should not have any place in school curriculum. It is pure propaganda.

One such lesson for middle and high schoolers includes the “genderbread person,” who aims to show children how biological sex, “gender expression,” “sexual attraction,” and “gender identity” exist on a spectrum, which can be mixed and matched.

While kindergarteners are spared the genderbread person in their curriculum, they are offered similar lessons on “gender identity,” introducing genders other than “boy” and “girl.”

Kids forced to watch Newsom’s The Representation Project films in schools aren’t just subjected to gender ideology, sexually explicit images, and Gavin Newsom’s one-liners. They’re being given a left-wing framework through which to see the world, and then prompted to conduct social and political activism.

In Newsom’s The Great American Lie curriculum, students are asked to do a “privilege walk,” divulging personal information in order to compare themselves to peers inside and outside the classroom. “Privileges” include being “a cisgendered man,” “white,” “born in the United States,” “straight,” and speaking English as a first language.

Is it any wonder Izumi says “historically students at California’s charter schools have performed better than students at regular public schools? This has especially been the case in urban areas such as Los Angeles and Oakland. It is important to note, however, that greater school choice offers urban areas more than just students who will do better academically,” Izumi added.

School Funding Scheme

As for California public school funding, Izumi says under Newsom’s 2023 proposed budget, Prop. 98 per pupil spending is $17,519, however when all funding sources are combined, including federal dollars, per pupil spending is actually $23,723.

Additionally, former Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control funding Formula spending scheme adds significantly to school spending but no accountability. Izumi explained: “With the LCFF, the money goes down to the school districts but there is no accountability – if the money is going to old failing programs or to new programs. And secondly, most of the money big districts spend is going to pensions and benefits for employees. For LAUSD, the Reason Foundation 2018 Evaluation of LAUSD’s Fiscal Outlook, they calculated that 57 percent of the LCFF is just going to three items – pensions, retiree health benefits, and special education, before one dollar is spent in the classroom.”

Izumi recently wrote about Critical Race Theory’s devastating impacts on school children:

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is among the most divisive doctrines to ever threaten America’s schoolchildren, and it has sparked an unprecedented grassroots uprising of parents whose stories of ideological resistance have been detailed in our new book The Great Parent Revolt.

A multidisciplinary education philosophy that places race at the center of American history and culture, CRT is akin to racial Marxism — with whites viewed as oppressors and non-whites framed as the oppressed. The philosophy is at the center of high-profile intellectual efforts, such as The New York Times’ controversial 1619 Project, which claims that slavery and anti-black racism are at the core of the entire American experience.  In The Great Parent Revolt, we profile more than a dozen parents, students, and grassroots leaders who have courageously stood up and fought CRT.

Izumi notes, “There is an example of a universal school-choice program right on California’s doorstep in Arizona. Last year, Arizona enacted a universal education savings account program that allows parents to withdraw their children from public schools and receive a portion of their public funding deposited into an account, which they can then access to pay for private school tuition, online education or private tutoring. The amount of funding is set at 90 percent of the state’s per-student funding.”

“Arizona’s education savings account program is now the most expansive one in the nation and is a model to follow in all other states, including California. If California does not offer parents and students a broad school-choice program, then we will see increased homeschooling, especially in urban areas.”

Izumi is also the author of The Corrupt Classroom: Bias, Indoctrination, Violence and Social Engineering Show Why America Needs School Choice and Short Circuited: The Challenges Facing the Online Learning Revolution in California.

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10 thoughts on “Students Trapped in California’s Failing Public Schools Deserve a Way Out

  1. The very definition of chutzpah is that the LAUSD teachers’ union is “partnering” with SEIU-represented janitors, cafeteria workers and other non-teaching staff to go on strike for three days this very week to demand a pay raise of (I think it is) 30%, if you can believe it. Imagine that, after the horrible performance of the public schools —- who were vastly revealed to be ANYTHING BUT student-centered — during “Covid,” and the horrible performance continues, as you see.

    From monitoring my local school district and its Board nearly 20 years ago, the lack of common sense, the ridiculous proposals, the adherence to (at the time) political correctness, the choosing of unqualified charter school applicants, and the refusal to follow education models that worked convinced me even then that money and power through union dominance and influence was the goal. Clearly, improvement was not the goal, no matter what they said. Now, when conditions are even worse (much worse), our current lawmakers who are controlled through teachers’ (and other public employee) unions are not likely to make policy that is pro-student or pro-parent.

    Smart parents will thus continue to find a way to remove their children from these toxic environments to home school. Sure, private school is also an option for some but is not ideal because of the expense AND (I believe) having to still kowtow to state-imposed restrictions, such as Covid mandates, for example. I had heard some time ago that for all demographic groups home-schooling numbers had DOUBLED during “Covid.” This is good news and a good start in the absence of reasonable state law, which sure as heck looks like it will NEVER happen now.

  2. The translation of Newsom’s quote “we’ve made record investments in education” is: “We’ve pocketed record amounts of money from taxpayers!”

  3. Let’s not forget that the failed Silicon Valley Bank gave $100,000 to Newsom’s wife’s non-profit.

    Let’s also not forget that corrupt Gov. Newsom signed a corrupt Democrat bill that has the taxpayers reimbursing union members for their dues. Of course, that includes United Teachers Los Angeles and the other teachers unions.

    The Democrats don’t want an educated public. They want stupidity and laziness so they have more people on public assistance. That’s why they pushed to legalize marijuana – more stupid and lazy people.

    The level of corruption in this state is off the charts.

  4. It often seems that the only solution in California is for parents to pull their kids out of public schools in order to regain parental control over their kids? Arizona’s education savings account program sounds like a good approach, but that program might be vulnerable now that Katie Hobbs and other radical leftist Democrats have been installed in the state’s government who are beholden to teacher unions?

  5. Homeschooling would help your kids, but it’s not enough to fix the state. The corrupt CA Dems get to keep more of your tax money that would have gone to schooling your kids. The money needs to stop flowing.

    1. Well, jfb, the schools DO lose ADA (Average Daily Attendance) money from the state for each student who doesn’t show up, so there’s that, and the districts hate the loss of that money, but I hear you.

    They’re called: I-8, I-10, I-15, I-40, I-80 along with a host of lesser-traveled, but still well-paved highways. Go East, into the sun to a new day and a new life! You’ll feel like that guy in the closing scene of the film, THX 1138.

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