The Equity Project

A case study of the Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County California that will illustrate how California education funding laws and legislative policies have taken California's public education system from number one in the world, to 45th in the Nation. The goal of the project is to educate California Taxpayers and provide plausible solutions that can be implemented to ensure that no child in the State of California is denied equality of educational opportunity. 

In order for this project to be completed, please consider a donation to The Equity Project  If every family within CUSD Boundaries gave me $1 this project would be well funded.

 

 

The State of California educates 12% of the k-12 public school children in the United States. When California fails, the Nation fails. California has gone from being the number one public education system in the world, to 45th in the United States. 

How did that happen? How do we fix this?

To find a solution, you need to understand the problem. 

 

In a Nut Shell

Data shows that the California budget has increased by $55 billion since 2007-08 to a record high $201 billion dollars. But, the State has implemented a new education funding formula that limits per pupil funding to 2007-08 levels + inflation, not to be reached until 2021. 

That caps average per pupil funding at about $9,000 per child into the foreseeable future.

At the same time, education expenses like salaries, pensions and benefits have climbed way past 2007-08 levels and are at record highs. 

The data shows that that the continued lack of adequate funding has resulted in a notable decline in the academic performance of students across all demographics.

In addition, the formula used to disperse these funds is designed to intentionally underfund Districts with low poverty rates. This asks the question- Are we using our public education system to redistribute wealth or educate students?

And where did that $55 billion in new revenue go?

California's 5-year Infrastructure Plan has $55 Billion in revenue for High Speed Rail and is not allocating a single penny to K-12 Facilities. 

Were "Wealthy Suburban School Districts" INTENTIONALLY underfunded to provide revenue to high speed rail?

The Data is below- you decide.

 

CALL TO ACTION 

The Federal Government has the power to help protect taxpayers and students in California from an abusive State government. Share this data with as many people as you can on a National level. The State has withheld $1.2 billion in funding from the Capistrano Unified School District alone since 2013-14. In my opinion the state's new education funding law is unconstitutional as explained below.

 

Chapter One

The California Budget & Education Funding - State Funds

California educates 6.2 million of the nations 50.7 million K-12 public school students.1

California’s failure to educate its students will greatly impact how educated the Nation is as a whole, and how well prepared the Nation will be to compete with it's peers around the world in the future.

 

How we got here... "The Road to Recovery"

"Adult Jobs" v "Educating Students"

Since the 2007-08 recession, the California state budget has grown from $146 billion to $201 billion (an increase of $55 billion).2

During that same time period, per pupil funding has been limited to 2007-08 levels + inflation, not to be reached until 2020-21.3

The State of California in cooperation with public employee unions, created a plan...

"The Road to Recovery".

Together they have figured out that keeping K-12 education perpetually underfunded has allowed them to find new and ever increasing revenue streams. Every new tax is "For the Children". But, the money never makes it to the classroom. The plan was designed to protect public employee compensation during the great recession, and to restore compensation to maximum highs by 2015.

The student road to recovery was not guaranteed. Student recovery remains dependent on finding continual new revenue streams. 

 

  

Part I- State Funds

*Note- When looking at the chart below, keep in mind that the State commissioned a study in December 2006 that concluded that no child in the State of California could be educated for less than $9,000 per pupil.4 

Average per pupil spending5

United States $11,762

California $11,495 (CDE reports $11,5486)

Capistrano Unified School District $9,675

CALIFORNIA STATE BUDGET AND EDUCATION FUNDING
Year State Budget Education Spending  % of State Budget Higher Education K-12 Number of Students in California K-12 CUSD Per Pupil Funding
2018-19 $201 Billion $73 Billion 36.3% $16 Billion   $57 Billion Not Available Not Available 
2017-18 $183 Billion $72 Billion  39.3% $15 Billion  $57 Billion 6,220,413 Not Available 
2016-17 $170 Billion $66 Billion 38.5% $15 Billion   $51 Billion  6,228,235 $9,675 per pupil 
2015-16 $168 Billion $65 Billion  38.9% $15 Billion    $51 Billion  6,226,737 $9,309 per pupil 
2014-15 $156 Billion $59 Billion 37.5% $13 Billion  $46 Billion  6,235,520  $8,042 per pupil 
2013-14 $145 Billion $51 Billion 35.2% $11 Billion  $40 Billion  6,236,672  $7,419 per pupil 
2012-13 $142 Billion $49 Billion 34.4% $10 Billion  $39 Billion  6,226,989  $7,002 per pupil
The State Implements a new education funding law- The Local Control Funding Formula "LCFF"
2011-12 $129 Billion $47 Billion 36.2% $11 Billion   $36 Billion  6,220,993   $7,469 per pupil
2010-11 $125 Billion $49 Billion 39.4%  $13 Billion  $37 Billion  6,217,002  $7,228 per pupil 
2009-10 $119 Billion $48 Billion 40.1% $12 Billion   $36 Billion  6,192,121  $7,246 per pupil 
2008-09 $144 Billion $60 Billion 41.3% $14 Billion   $46 Billion  6,252,029  $7,614 per pupil 
2007-08 $146 Billion $60 Billion 41.5%  $23 Billion  $45 Billion 6,275,469  $7,694 per pupil 

The Study

In December 2006, the State of California Commissioned a study to determine the minimum cost to "adequately" educate a student in California. The study calculated per pupil costs with special needs weightings. The study concluded that in 2007-08, no K-12 student in the state of California could be educated for less than $9,000 per pupil.4 

Overall Urban

Suburban

Capistrano Unified

School District

Towns Rual
$10,262- $11,897 $10,585 - $12,224 $9,977 - $11,634 $8,431 - $9,581 $9,934 - $11,415

 

Source: Efficiency and Adequacy in California School Finance: A Professional Judgment Approach 

 

The Local Control Funding Formula 

In 2013-14 the State implemented a new education funding formula; the "Local Control Funding Formula" aka "LCFF".3

The formula limits per pupil funding to 2007-08 levels + inflation, with the goal of reaching that 2007-08 level of funding by the year 2020-21. Once that goal is reached, increases in per pupil funding will be based solely on inflation.3

The Problem:

The law effectively placed a cap on "average" per pupil funding at $9,000 per student. That does not mean that every District receives $9,000 in per pupil funding. Instead, the LCFF distributes per pupil funding based on the following formula3:

The "Base Grant" is universal for all students. 

The "Supplemental Grant" provides additional funding to districts based on the percentage of students in the district that are English Language Learners, Receiving Free and Reduced Lunch, and/or are in Foster Care. 

The "Concentration Grant" provides even more funding for districts that have large concentrations of students that are English Language Learners, Receiving Free and Reduced Lunch, and/or are in Foster Care.

Districts with a low percentage of students who are English Language Learners, Receiving Free and Reduced Lunch, and/or are in Foster Care, are funded primarily by the Base Grant. Some Districts receive very little in Supplemental Grants, and nothing from Concentration Grants.

When the State implemented the LCFF, it set the Base Funding Grant at $6,500 7. That amount was $2,500 per pupil less than the $9,000 minimum required to fund equality of educational opportunity for all students.  

The State Designed the Formula To "Redistribute Wealth", Not to Educate Students.

Setting the Base Grant at $6,500 per pupil, meant that the funding formula was designed to intentionally underfund only those districts with a low percentage of students who are English Language Learners, receiving Free and Reduced Lunch and/or are in Foster Care.

The result was to deprive every student that happened to live in a district with a low percentage of students that are English Language Learners, receiving Free and Reduced Lunch and/or are in Foster Care of the funding they needed to obtain a minimum education as defined by State Law8 and California Content Standards and Curriculum Frameworks.9  

Denying any student equal access to educational opportunity simply because of where they happen to live; and irrespective of their individual wealth, race and ethnicity is by definition "Invidious Discrimination". Invidious Discrimination is a violation of Equal Protection laws of both, the United States Constitution and the California Constitution.

Invidious Discrimination is defined as treating a class of persons unequally in a manner that is malicious, hostile, or damaging.10

Years of academic data now show that that the continued lack of adequate funding for districts that have a low percentage of students that are English Language Learners, receiving Free and Reduced Lunch, and/or are Foster Children has resulted in a notable decline in the academic performance of students across all demographics.

The Local Control Funding Formula is Unconstitutional.

The Local Control Funding Formula violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.7

The rationale behind LCFF was to provide a minimum level of funding that would be equal for all students. To be Constitutional, the Base grant needed to be set at a minimum of $9,000 per student; an amount that the State determined to be sufficient to provide every student with equality of educational opportunity. Then the State could provide additional funding for high needs students (Supplemental Grant), and even more funding for high concentrations of high needs students (Concentration Grant).

The law is in fact irrational because it fails to provide even minimum funding to high needs students living in districts with low percentages of students who are English Language Learners, receiving Free and Reduced Lunch and/or are in Foster Care. 

The State of California has used the LCFF to promote a political agenda (the redistribution of wealth) rather than educate students (fund equality of educational opportunity). 

EVERY STUDENT in the State of California Deserves EQUALITY OF EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY.

The Federal Government has a substantial interest in student outcomes in California.

California educates 6.2 million of the nations 50.7 million K-12 public school students.1

California’s failure to educate its students will greatly impact how educated the Nation is as a whole; and how well prepared the Nation will be to compete with it's peers around the world in the future.

The Federal Government should review California's Local Control Funding Formula to ensure the law does not violate the Civil Rights of California Students.

In Brown v. Board of Education11 a unanimous US Supreme Court recognized that:

"Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms."

In San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, the US Supreme Court defined when it would be appropriate for a Federal Court to review an individual State's education funding system to determine the constitutionality of that system. 

A Federal Court has proper jurisdiction to review an individual State’s education funding laws under standards of strict judicial scrutiny, in cases involving laws that operate to the disadvantage of a suspect class or interferes with the exercise of fundamental rights and liberties explicitly or implicitly protected by the Constitution.12 

If a State's system of financing public education:

1. Operates to the disadvantage of some suspect class, or

2. Impinges upon a fundamental right explicitly or implicitly protected by the Constitution,

that system must be reviewed under standards of strict judicial scrutiny.  

If a suspect classification is not found, the system must still be examined to: 

"... determine whether the law rationally furthers some legitimate, articulated state purpose, and therefore does not constitute an invidious discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Matters of Fiscal Policy: 

San Antonio v Rodriguez represented far more than a challenge to the manner in which Texas law provided for the education of its children. The Supreme Court viewed that case as a direct attack on the way in which the State of Texas chose to raise and disburse state and local tax revenues. While the Court recognized a States broad discretion to formulate tax policy, the Court also stated that the presumption of Constitutionality could be overcome only by the most explicit demonstration that a classification is a hostile and oppressive discrimination against particular persons and classes.

In my opinion, under San Antonio v Rodriguez, California's Local Control Funding Formula would be found to be unconstitutional. California students have suffered long enough from an abusive State Government.

 

CASE STUDY

Capistrano Unified School District, Orange County, California

 

District Profile 2017-1813

Enrollment: 53,622

CUSD: 46,908.22

Charter and Other Schools: 6,714

English Language Learners: 5,045 (9.4%)

Free and Reduced Lunch: 14,930 (26%)

Foster Children: No Data

Unduplicated Pupil Percentage (UPP): 24.64%

 

Funding14

Local Control Funding Formula (Entitlement) 

Base Grant $304,637,429

Concentration Grant: $18,642,711

Add-On Funding $4,582,808

$401,527,273 (per pupil funding $8,560 per pupil)

Actual Funding Received: $389.365.603 (per pupil funding $8,300 per pupil)

 

Since the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, the State has withheld substantial funding from the Capistrano Unified School District.

Based on the State Study4, CUSD; a "Suburban" school district, should have received no less than $9,000 per pupil. And, according to the study between $10,726 per pupil and $12,077 per pupil.

There were 47 member school districts that have been working to increase the base funding grant by supporting Assembly Bill 2808. That bill has died.15  

The money the state has withheld from intentionally underfunded districts is used by the State to fund new programs and entitlements that are not constitutionally mandated. 

*Note- AB 2808 Died and the Coalition has also died. The identity of the 47 Districts that participated is being researched.

The State underfunded CUSD by $305 million + 2018-19 based on per pupil funding of $9,000

Year

Minimum Funding All Students per Study

Actual Funding Capistrano Unified School District

Difference 

Enrollment Capistrano Unified School District

Per Pupil Funding Withheld from the Capistrano Unified School District 

2018-19  $9,000 Not Available  Not Available  Not Available  Not Available
2017-18   $9,000 $9,163 $163 53,622 $8,740,386 
2016-17   $9,000 $8,189   ($811) 53,613 ($43,480,143) 
2015-16   $9,000 $8,190  ($810) 53,878 ($43,641,180)
2014-15  $9,000 $7,376  ($1,624)  54,036 ($87,754,464) 
2013-14   $9,000 $6,414  ($2,586)   53,833 ($139,212,138) 

Total Amount CUSD has been underfunded by based on per pupil funding of $9,000 

$305,347,539 + 2018-19

($305 Million +)

 

The State underfunded CUSD by $769 million + 2018-19 based on per pupil funding of $10,726

Year

Funding for Suburban School Districts  (minimum) per Study

Actual Funding Capistrano Unified School District

Difference

Enrollment  Capistrano Unified School District

Per Pupil Funding Withheld from the Capistrano Unified School District 

2018-19 $10,726 Not Available  Not Available  Not Available  Not Available
2017-18 $10,726 $9,163  $1,563 53,622 $83,811,186 
2016-17 $10,726 $8,189  $2,537 53,613 $136,016,181 
2015-16 $10,726 $8,190  $2,536  53,878 $136,634,608 
2014-15 $10,726 $7,376  $3,350  54,036 $181,020,600 
2013-14 $10,726 $6,414  $4,312   53,833 $232,127,896 

Total Amount CUSD has been underfunded by based on the minimum per pupil funding of $10,726 

$768,992,044 + 2018-19

($7.7 Million +)

 

The State underfunded CUSD by $1.16 billion + 2018-19 based on per pupil funding of $12,0777

Year

Funding for Suburban School Districts (high) per Study

Actual Funding Capistrano Unified School District 16

Difference 

Enrollment Capistrano Unified School District 17

Per Pupil Funding Withheld from the Capistrano Unified School District

2018-19 $12,077 Not Available  Not Available  Not Available  Not Available
2017-18 $12,077 $9,163  $2,914 53,622 $156,254,508 
2016-17 $12,077 $8,189  $3,888 53,613 $209,477,664 
2015-16  $12,077 $8,190   $3,887 53,878 $209,423,786 
2014-15 $12,077 $7,376  $4,701  54,036 $254,023,236 
2013-14  $12,077 $6,414   $5663  53,833 $333,171,279 

Total Amount CUSD has been underfunded by based on per pupil funding of $12,077 

$1,162,350,473 + 2018-19

($1.2 Billion +) 

 

    

Is the State Withholding Funding from K-12 to Fund High Speed Rail?

What is interesting is, if you take 47 intentionally underfunded "Wealthy Suburban School Districts" and multiply that by $1.2 billion in withheld money it equals the $55 billion dollars that has been built up in the Governor's Transportation/High Speed Rail funding account in the State's 5-year Infrastructure Plan. 1 

California's 5- Year Infrastructure Plan- Not One Penny for K-12 Public Education

The State is planning to allocate $576 million to Education infrastructure. All of it is going to Community College. While K-12 facilities crumble, the State is allocating 90% of its infrastructure budget to Transportation/High Speed Rail.18 The $55 billion in Transportation/High Speed Rail Authority is equivalent to the amount of funding that has been withheld from school districts with low poverty rates.1

The State is denying educational opportunity to all students who live in "wealthy suburban school districts" to fund Jerry Brown's legacy... the High Speed Rail.

 

Political Bias Against All Students that Live in School Districts with Low Poverty Rates

No Citizen wants to believe that their Federal or State Government would choose to deny educational opportunity to K-12 students because they live in a school district that had low poverty rates; but that was in fact the case under the Obama administration, and it still remains the case in California.

In 2013 the Obama administration actually used the Capistrano Unified School District as the poster child of a wealthy district that should be denied additional funding.

 

"Capistrano Unified School District (Orange County, CA) would receive more than $1.1 million in additional funds. Fewer than 9% of families there live below the poverty line.

Meanwhile, the Fresno Unified School District would see their funding cut by more than $4 million. More than 46% of families there live in poverty."

The story fails to mention that in 2013-14 Fresno was receiving $9,188 per pupil while CUSD was receiving only $7,419 per pupil. This was at a time when Capistrano Unified was telling parents that if Prop 30 failed an additional $30 million in cuts were anticipated and the school year would be reduced to 165 days.

Start sharing this information with the Federal Government and the press outside of California. All Children deserve Equality of Educational Opportunity; even those that live in school districts with low poverty rates.

The School Districts You Don't See on This Map Are as Telling as the Ones You Do See

 

 

Footnotes:

1. LAO January 26, 2018: The 2018-19 Budget K-12 Education in Context

2. California Department of Finance Historical Budget Publications 2000-2018

3. CDE: Local Control Funding Overview 

4. Efficiency and Adequacy in California School Finance: A Professional Judgment Approach

5. United States Census 2016

6. CDE 2016-17 Current Expense per Average Daily Attendance (ADA)

7. AB-97 School Finance- Local Control Funding Formula

8. The California Constitution gives education funding a unique priority above all other state funding obligations by requiring: "from all state revenues there shall FIRST be set apart the monies to be applied by the State for support of the public school system..." Cal. Const. art. XVI, §8. (Emphasis added) To meet it's constitutional mandate (Cal. Const. art. XVI, §8), the State of California must set per pupil funding at an amount that is sufficient to provide EVERY K-12 student with substantially equal opportunities to achieve a quality education. "Equal Opportunity to Achieve a Quality Education" is defined by the courts to be:"...opportunity to obtain high quality staff, program expansion and variety, beneficial teacher- pupil ratios and class sizes, modern equipment and materials, and high-quality buildings."  [Serrano v. Priest II (1976) 18 Cal. 3d 748] 

Serrano v. Priest (Cal. 1971) 487 P.2d 1241 the California Supreme Court ruled that education is a fundamental constitutional right. In 1976, in Serrano v. Priest (Serrano II ), 557 P.2d 929, the same court affirmed the lower court’s finding that the wealth-related disparities in per-pupil spending generated by the state’s education finance system violated the equal protection clause of the California constitution. In Serrano, the California Supreme Court ruled that the level of services available to students in each school district should not be a function of wealth, other than the wealth of the state as a whole. The State has a constitutional obligation to equalize the value of the taxable wealth in each district, so that equal tax efforts will yield equal resources. The Court found that "minimum" education funding had to provide all students with opportunity to obtain

9. California Education Code 51210 Course of Study, Grades 1 to 6California Education Code 51220 Course of Study, Grades 7-12, California Code of Regulations Section 14001 School Facilities and Equipment Minimum StandardsCalifornia Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks and California Department of Education Content Standards.

10. Legal Definition of Invidious Discrimination treating a class of persons unequally in a manner that is malicious, hostile, or damaging.

11. In Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954), a unanimous US Supreme Court recognized that: "Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our [p30] recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." (emphasis added) Id. at 493 

Ibid. This theme, expressing an abiding respect for the vital role of education in a free society, may be found in numerous opinions of Justices of this Court writing both before and after Brown was decided. Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 213 (BURGER, C.J.), 237, 238-239 (WHITE, J.), (1972); Abington School Dist. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 230 (1963) (BRENNAN, J.); McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 212 (1948) (Frankfurter, J.); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923); Interstate Consolidated Street R. Co. v. Massachusetts, 207 U.S. 79 (1907). 

12. In San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez 411 U.S. 1 (1973) the US Supreme Court defined when it would be appropriate for a Federal Court to review an individual State's education funding system to determine the constitutionality of that system. The Court also defined how an individual State's education funding system should be reviewed to determine the Constitutionality of that system.

A Federal Court has proper jurisdiction to review an individual State’s education funding laws under standards of strict judicial scrutiny, in cases involving laws that operate to the disadvantage of a suspect class or interferes with the exercise of fundamental rights and liberties explicitly or implicitly protected by the Constitution. Ibid. [18-44]

If a State's system of financing public education:

1. Operates to the disadvantage of some suspect class, or

2. Impinges upon a fundamental right explicitly or implicitly protected by the Constitution,

that system must be reviewed under standards of strict judicial scrutiny. 

 If a suspect classification is not found, the system must still be examined to:

 "... determine whether the law rationally furthers some legitimate, articulated state purpose, and therefore does not constitute an invidious discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. " Ibid. [17]

Matters of Fiscal Policy: 

Ibid. [40].  "[San Antonio v Rodriguez] represents far more than a challenge to the manner in which Texas provides for the education of its children. We have here nothing less than a direct attack on the way in which Texas has chosen to raise and disburse state and local tax revenues." (Emphasis Added) "The broad discretion as to classification possessed by a legislature in the field of taxation has long been recognized. . . . [T]he passage of time has only served to underscore the wisdom of that recognition of the large area of discretion which is needed by a legislature in formulating sound tax policies. . . . "

Ibid. [41]   "It has . . . been pointed out that in taxation, even more than in other fields, legislatures possess the greatest freedom in classification. Since the members of a legislature necessarily enjoy a familiarity with local conditions which this Court cannot have, the presumption of constitutionality can be overcome only by the most explicit demonstration that a classification is a hostile and oppressive discrimination against particular persons and classes. . . ."  Madden v. Kentucky, 309 U. S. 83, 87-88 (1940). See also Lehnhausen v. Lake Shore Auto Parts Co., 410 U. S. 356 (1973); Wisconsin v. J. C. Penney Co., 311 U. S. 435, 445 (1940). (emphasis added). 

13. CDE: District Profile

14. CDE: Local Control Funding Formula - Funding Snapshot

15. Fresno Bee: California's Education Funding Model Has Fatal Flaw

16. Per Pupil Funding by District: CDE: Current Expense of Education (CUSD is Code 30)

17. Enrollment Data: DataQuest

18. Governor's Budget Summary - 2018-19: Infrastructure

19. From the WHITE HOUSE President Barack Obama FEBRUARY 13, 2015 AT 10:30 AM ET BY LINDSAY HOLST The School Districts You Don't See on This Map Are as Telling as the Ones You Do See