An active group of parent public school advocates has created San Diego Schools, “to enable parents and student to better understand how their school District operates, how to receive the most value for their education and how their participation can make it happen.”
California Globe spoke with Todd Maddison, an Oceanside parent who specializes in school budgets. “We are parent activists,” Maddison said. “We created San Diego Schools to share what we know with parents in other schools districts.”
Maddison said they are creating tool kits on best practices on important issues like fees that schools should be covering but don’t, as well as budget issues.
He said his priority is not just the reopening of California public schools following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide lockdown, “the real issue is getting people to pay attention to the budget.”
“The school board meetings where they spend $5 million on themselves,” are a good first step Maddison said. But typically at those meetings, there may be four parents present. School board meetings discussing sex education curriculum have hundreds of parents,” Maddison said. Both are important issues he says, but parents need to understand the spending going on under their noses.
With most schools still closed down in California and kids stuck at home with little or no online education, frustrated parents have taken to social media demanding their tax dollars back.
There is a new movement by parents in San Diego demanding $2,700 per student, per year to fund distance learning and subsequent expenses.
Lance Izumi, senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute, and author of the 2017 book “The Corrupt Classroom,” has been critical of former Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) education finance program, which further exasperated public school funding.
“Prior to the enactment of the LCFF, funding California’s public schools was a complicated mix of general and restricted dollars, which even education experts found confusing and often nonsensical,” Izumi wrote for the Daily Caller.
“Under the LCFF, according to the California Department of Education, school districts receive ‘grade span-specific base grants” plus supplemental grants calculated on student demographic factors such as low-income status and non-English fluency. Districts, says the Department, have “greater flexibility to use these funds to improve student outcomes.’ Yet have districts used this greater flexibility to improve student results?”
The result? “District leaders aren’t spending money in the best interest of kids who generate funds,” as the LCFF was sold to parents, schools boards and lawmakers. “Indeed, accountability has been a huge Achilles Heel for LCFF,” Izumi said.
“Rather than simply shifting spending decisions from one level of government (the state) to another level of government (school districts), wouldn’t at least some of that money have been better spent empowering parents to choose the school for their children, public or private, that best meet their needs?”
Indeed. And that is exactly why San Diego Schools was created. As its website says, “We have a say in how we are governed because WE are the voters, the taxpayers and essentially the ’employers”and customers of our elected officials and their support staff.'”
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