California — once ranked first in the nation for education spending — is now among the lowest in the country in terms of per-student K-12 funding.
In 2010-11, California schools spent $2,856 less per student than the rest of the nation. To be on par with other states, California would need to increase education funding by 32.1 percent — equal to an additional $17.3 billion, according to a 2011 “School Finance Facts” report by the California Budget Project.
“After a decade of disinvestment, the gap between resources available to California schools and the rest of the U.S. has widened substantially,” the report states. “California’s schools spend fewer dollars per student and have substantially more students per school staff than schools in other states.”
According to the report, school funding was “fundamentally changed” with the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, which decreased property taxes and resulted in California schools relying heavily on state dollars.
With the recent economic downturn, the state has continued to cut spending to close budget shortfalls, and funding for California schools has dropped to “historic lows,” according to the California Budget Project.