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O'Connell Supports School Funding Lawsuit, While Governor Predicts He Will Prevail

May 27, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell last week announced his support of a lawsuit (Robles-Wong, et al. v. California) filed on May 20 against the State of California by students, districts, school boards, and school administrators:

"California students are the victims of broken budget promises and a broken school funding system,” O’Connell said.  “I applaud this effort to align appropriate funding for our public education with our goal of educating students to master our rigorous academic standards.  Budget discussions about schools in California have for too long been a one-sided conversation about how to stretch dwindling resources.  This lawsuit now forces a conversation we must have about actually meeting the needs of our students.”

"According to the Legislative Analyst's recent analysis on per capita real general fund spending in the Governor's proposed May budget revision, 'the level of spending proposed by the administration would continue the recent drop in state spending, as adjusted for growth in population and inflation. In 2010–11, the inflation adjusted per capita spending level would be similar to that of 1993–94 — also a low point due to a recession,’ ”O’Connell said.

He continued, "California is failing to fund programs and resources students need to thrive and compete in a competitive global economy.  Class sizes are growing.  Summer school, arts, music, librarians, nurses, and counselors, have been cut.  The school year at many districts has been reduced.  For years, our teachers, administrators, and especially our students have been doing more with less.  A growing number of California districts face financial insolvency, and California finds itself near the bottom nationally in per pupil funding.

"A well educated population is the key to California's successful future. We urgently need to prioritize this responsibility to our students and future generations. If the political will to protect our future is faltering, perhaps this lawsuit and the courts will be the catalyst to meet our obligation to the more than six million students in our state,” O’Connell said.

Meanwhile, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss said, “The Governor will oppose this lawsuit and believes the state will prevail.  The funding of public education in California has long been and continues to be a top priority of California, even in bad economic and budget times.  We will continue to fight to keep education a budget priority as well as fight for the other reforms essential to ensuring a great education for all our students regardless of where they live or their race or economic background.”

For more information about the lawsuit, go to http://www.fixschoolfinance.org/

Source:  California Department of Education, Governorís Press Office