Concern Rises Over Impact of Budget Cuts on Public Schools

Concern Rises Over Impact of Budget Cuts on Public Schools
April 29, 2010 Stuart Foundation

As California once again confronts a multibillion dollar budget deficit, concern has grown considerably among the state’s residents about the consequences of spending cuts on kindergarten through 12th grade education, according to an annual survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Californians today are more likely than last year to believe that funding for their local schools is inadequate, and parents of public school students are far more likely to say that state budget cuts have had a big effect on their children’s schools.

Most Californians (62%) believe there is not enough state funding going to their public schools (26% just enough, 6% more than enough), a 12-point increase since April 2009. A similar majority (62%) say they are very concerned the state’s budget gap will cause significant spending cuts in K–12 education, up 6 points since last April. Among public school parents, 43 percent say their children’s schools have been affected a lot by recent state budget cuts, 15 points higher than a year ago. Another 38 percent say their schools have been affected somewhat, and only 17 percent say they have seen no effect.

When asked how they feel about some potential ways schools may deal with decreased funding, an overwhelming number of Californians say they are very concerned (73%) or somewhat concerned (19%) about teacher layoffs. More than half are very concerned about class sizes getting bigger (59%), having fewer days of school instruction (56%), or elimination of art and music programs (56%). About half (49%) are very concerned about elimination of after-school and summer programs.

“At a time when Californians are looking for reforms that will improve student achievement, more Californians are seeing the direct effect of the state’s budget problems on children, teachers, and resources in their local schools,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “They expect better results from their leaders in Sacramento and in Washington.”

Watch a video of Mark Baldassare discussing this report or download the full report by clicking the link below.