Underfunded CA K-12 Schools Have Far Too Few Adults

Student/Teacher Ratio More Than Twice Some Other States
California ranks 36th in the nation for quality of education. Photo Credit: Unsplash

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California schools have far too few teachers and other adults on K-12 campuses, and children’s education is suffering. That’s according to a new report from the nonprofit group Children Now.

Researchers compared a typical high school, Gunderson High in San Jose, with similar schools in two other states. They found the student/teacher ratio is 30-to-1 in California, but 20-to-1 in Illinois and 11-to-1 in New Jersey. Teryl Burditt, a first-grade teacher from Lancaster, said California teachers are overwhelmed.

“Now some of our schools have 33 first graders and no instructional aide,” Burditt said. “We have no planning time. Zero. So any planning we do is on our own time.”

The report found that California spends about $11,000 a year per pupil – whereas Illinois and New Jersey spend $3,000 and $6,000 more per student, respectively. The difference? Schools in better-funded states have more instructional aides, librarians, counselors, coaches, music, arts and technology teachers and extracurricular programs.

Burditt said huge numbers of California teachers will be retiring in the next few years – and underfunding will make it hard to recruit and keep replacements.

“If they get in and they’re not getting supported, it will be a rough go getting enough teachers into the classroom,” she said. “A little help would go a long way towards keeping teachers in the profession.”

California has slowly restored most of the cuts made during the recession, but even at pre-recession levels, California lags far behind other states in educational funding.