Aug. 27: In this guest post, Steven Weinberg, a retired Oakland teacher and Education Report contributor, makes a case for the Prop. 30 statewide tax initiative on the November ballot:
Does providing schools with more money lead to improvements in student achievement? The experience of Oakland middle schools over the last three years shows that it does.
Several years ago four Oakland middle schools with test scores in the lowest 20 percent of state schools received multiyear grants of $900 per student to reduce class sizes and fund other improvements. The grants were not given to all schools in the lowest 20 percent because the state wanted to be able to compare differences in improvement between those schools that received the extra money and those that did not.
After three years the differences in Oakland's middle schools are dramatic. The four schools that received the extra funding (Claremont, Frick, Madison, and Urban Promise) have improved their API scores by an average of 99 points. The middle schools that started with similar scores, but did not receive the funding, improved by an average of only 32 points. The Oakland middle schools that were not in the lowest 20 percent
The gains for students in schools with the extra funding was more than three times as large as the gains in similar schools and much greater than that if all middle schools are compared.
Clearly additional funding and lower class sizes make a huge difference in helping schools increase student achievement. These gains might have been even larger if the state had not been cutting basic school support during this period.
California voters will have a choice in November. They can approve a small, temporary tax increase that will provide resources for our schools, or they can vote against the plan and see massive cuts to educational programs. What they decide will have a clear effect on the achievement of our students.
Jessica Stewart: Money is not the entire game, but it's a massive part of it. Our schools in CA are terribly underfunded -- I'm glad to see some data that shows that when we resource schools better, we get better results.
Vote yes on Prop. 30 and Prop. 38 this November.
Wdcrachel: A recent opinion piece in the New York Times contends that it takes more than $49,000 to educate the children of the elite. We are spending a fraction of that on our public schools and our neediest students and asking teachers and schools to counter the effects of historic discrimination, modern day racism, and poverty.
Nontclair: We completely reject your "findings." Your methodologies. Everything.
And don't you think the human subjects of your unscientific experiment (plus the control group not "benefiting" from the extra $900 per capita) deserved a say in what manner they were to be used as guinea pigs in your political science kabuki?
We know that public education is just a pretext for shoveling money to the teachers union. As the taxpayers are now wise to that scam and will refuse to allow higher tax rates to keep public union members flush with pension benefits, those unions are just going to have to fight each other to defend their pieces of a static pie.
Sharon: Money put toward children's schools doesn't matter. That's exactly why Jerry Brown's friends and courtiers gave the Oakland Military Institute an extra $1,559,661 between December 2011 and June 2012. It's also why they gave $1,361,282 to the Oakland School for the Arts during the same time period. None of the extra programs, extra supplies and equipment, extra trips -- or whatever that enormous amount of money will be used for -- will make a difference for those 1,250 students in the slightest bit.
The list of those meaningless contributions is on a spreadsheet prepared by the California Fair Political Practices Commission.