Thursday, October 2, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

English learners will get a boost

TomEliasW

By
From page A6 | April 04, 2013 |

Gov. Jerry Brown has never described it quite this way, but the essence of what he wants to do with many of the new tax dollars from last fall’s Proposition 30 is finish the job begun in 1971 by the Serrano v. Priest decision of the California Supreme Court.

“Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice,” Brown said as he proposed giving school districts with high concentrations of English learners, subsidized-lunch students and foster children as much as $5,000 per year over several years for each such student they have, in addition to the “base grant” of $6,800 per year that schools get for every pupil.

Brown’s observation was much like the reasoning of the Serrano decision, which ruled that the former prevailing system of school finance a violation of the equal protection clause of the state Constitution. Because Serrano was based on the state Constitution, not the federal one, it has never been seriously challenged in federal appeals courts.

In short, Serrano held that the fact that wealthy school districts could spend more than poor ones on each of their pupils was flat-out unfair. At the time the case was filed on behalf of a student in the Baldwin Park School District in 1969, that district spent $577 per year to educate each of them, while Pasadena spent $840 and Beverly Hills $1,232. Those inequalities stemmed directly from differences in property values from district to district.

A series of Serrano-related decisions through the 1970s saw the courts demand that disparities in official per-student spending be no more than $100 per year, later adjusted for inflation to $350.

Of course, many wealthy districts raise millions of dollars each year via voluntary contributions from parents and other local citizens, something the state cannot prevent. So districts in places like Palo Alto, Palos Verdes, Beverly Hills and Hillsborough still get more than those in Trona, McFarland, Compton and Los Angeles.

Now Brown wants to take things further. Los Angeles, with a large majority of Latino students, would be one prime beneficiary of the governor’s proposal, getting more than a 17 percent boost next year over current funding, and that’s just for the first year of the plan.

Chances are that other districts bearing the brunt of educating California’s large corps of immigrant children, with whom English is often not spoken at home, also will get some new benefits.

But just because Brown is a Democrat and his party now holds majorities of about two-thirds in both legislative houses does not mean he will get everything he wants.

For educators in some of the state’s better-performing school districts are wary of too much equalization. They know what standardized test scores show: In spite of the fact that spending is much closer to equal today than before Serrano, the quality of instruction and course offerings is still far from consonant. In general, students from wealthier districts still do better on standardized tests and in life. This is partly a function of the differing degrees of parental wealth and interest in education from place to place.

It’s almost certain that Republicans, who opposed the original Serrano decision even though it was written by then-Chief Justice Donald Wright, a Ronald Reagan appointee, also will object to Brown’s plan, which essentially aims to give children of immigrants — legal or not — the same opportunities for success as children of native-born citizens.

At the same time, there are plenty of suburban Democrats in both houses of the Legislature who represent well-heeled areas where voters have passed school construction bonds and where parents donate heavily to public schools.

One is Joan Buchanan, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, who spent 18 years on the San Ramon Valley Board of Education in the East Bay Area. Facilities expanded greatly during her time on that board, while the district moved into the top 5 percent in California academically.

Buchanan, through whose committee Brown’s plan must pass, has so far not said much about it.

It’s unlikely that she or other Democrats, mindful of the strong Latino vote their party usually draws, would object to providing some more money to districts with a plethora of English learners. But to almost double the basic grant of $6,800 per student over the next five years? That might be another question.

The likely outcome then, is that the final budget that reaches Brown’s desk this summer will include a boost in funding for each English learner, foster child and subsidized lunch recipient, just not as much as Brown proposed in January. Which may be what Brown — a skilled and veteran negotiator — actually figured on.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at tdelias@aol.com

Comments

comments

.

News

 
Sunder wants to expand opportunities for all

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

 
At Davis intersections, let’s be careful out there

By Kim Orendor | From Page: C2 | Gallery

 
Oktoberfest features Grand Isle Fire Brigade

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sunder supporters gather on Sunday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Trokanski discusses new project on ‘Davisville’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Learn more about Boy Scouts during upcoming events

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Third-graders face high-stakes reading targets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Learn how to ride a bike in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Feinstein, Boxer depend on red-leaning Senate races

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A3

Gallery hosts poetry night

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Parenting advice on radio show

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Archer event set for Sunday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Per Capita: Tales from the back burner

By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A4

Sunflower power at the Winters Community Library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Tour gives opportunity to watch moonrise in the bypass

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

UC campuses aim to be more inclusive to LGBT students

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Check out Soroptimists at info night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Helping disabled ag workers stay in agriculture

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Register to vote by Oct. 20

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Unitrans persists through changing times

By Lily Holmes | From Page: C6 | Gallery

 
Up for a fun day trip? Take a bike to Bike Dog

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: C8 | Gallery

Volunteers are trained to help with train questions

By Bob Schultz | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
There are plenty of fun activities around town

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C13 | Gallery

Getting from here to there by buses, planes and trains

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C14 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

Climate change is coming for you

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
A true vision for peace

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Drivers, just follow the rules

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Let’s fix the park deck

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

‘Maupin’s Law’ 2.0: Prevention is better than punishment

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Choose Archer, Sunder, Adams

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Barbara Archer for school board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Vote for change on board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Poppenga considers all students

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

 
Despite 168 points allowed, PSU defense may not be lousy

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bumgarner, Crawford help Giants slam Bucs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cheung paces Devils past Pacers on the pitch

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS JV runners shine in varsity events

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
Youth roundup: Diamonds swing to victories at Vineyard Classic

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: DHS girls tennis goes three for three

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

.

Features

Davis robotics team pays it forward

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

Wineaux: Picking the last rosé of summer

By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A9

 
Natsoulas to host mural conference

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

Robbie Fulks will visit ‘Live in the Loam’ on KDRT

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Odd Fellows to screen classic Westerns

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Old Macs get new life at art exhibit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Woodland Opera House rounds up cowboy poetry, music

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Music for brass, choir and organ set at DCC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, October 2, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6