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Education Spending in California

CaliforniaI woke up early this morning for some unknown reason–well before everyone else in my family–and decided to Google California’s education budget.  Yes, I know, my mind clearly goes to exciting places before 7am!  I wrote a brief Facebook post yesterday on The Smartest Kids in the World (and how they got that way) by Amanda Ripley that sparked a good conversation online among my friends and FB followers about education.  I became passionate about discovering exactly how much money we spend on K-12 education in our great state of California ($70 billion!) and also how much we spend per pupil (a number that I’ve seen estimated on various government websites, sources below, as $7,643 or $8,482).

California educates more than 6,000,000 students in grades K-12 in more than 10,000 schools throughout the state.  As parents, educators, tax payers and community members, I think it’s important to learn as much as we can about education in our state–how much money we spend overall, where exactly the money is spent and how much money comes to each of our local schools. I’m also concerned about how well our teachers and schools are performing and most of all, how well our children are learning, growing and achieving in CA as compared to the rest of the nation and the world.

California’s per-student spending of $8,482 was $3,342 – 28% below the national average of $11,824. Only Nevada ($8,419) and Utah ($7,042) spent less.  Another Western state, Wyoming – $18,814 per student – led the nation in spending  The gap between California and the nation grew $344 per student in 2010, as California’s per-student spending dropped $185 from the year before as a result of a massive state budget deficit, while spending nationally grew $159.  Last year, California ranked 47th out of 51.

Note:  while it was easy enough to enter “State of California education budget 2013-2014” and find out how much we spend overall on education in our state, it was much less transparent and trickier to find out exactly how much we spend per student.  I think and hope the numbers I’ve quoted you above are correct.  

Here are the sources I used to find the information in case you’re curious and want to read a little more on this topic:

http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2013-14/pdf/Enacted/BudgetSummary/Kthru12Education.pdf

http://edsource.org/today/2013/california-drops-to-49th-in-school-spending-in-annual-ed-week-report/25379#.UsbOcKUdeqQ

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011

http://edsource.org/today/2013/guess-how-much-we-invest-in-our-students/33802#.UsbU6KUdeqQ

http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2014/01/02/15501/california-board-of-education-to-vote-on-new-spend/

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