CBS47's Ken Malloy is On Your Side with a series of reports, months in the making.
From kindergarten to college -- we ask the questions and push through the bureaucracy.
What is the state of education? Our children's future and the future of California is on the ballot.
Before you vote, watch this groundbreaking 5-part series, all week long on CBS47 News at 11:00 p.m.
Part 1: Education Spending 101
CBS47 is On Your Side, as we begin a 5-part special report on the state of education here in California.
On November 6th, voters will be asked to raise taxes to boost funding for education. Everything from a shorter school year to billions of dollars in cuts are on the line if Proposition 30 fails.
Fresno State President John Welty said, "Bottom line, if Prop 30 fails, Fresno State will be a smaller campus; we'll have fewer employees."
Fresno Unified School Superintendent Michael Hanson said, "As the superintendent of Fresno Unified, I think a shorter school year is catastrophic."
Statements like that made us take a look at the "big picture" of the California education system.
Over five nights, CBS47 will show you how much California spends on education, where the money goes, how our student test scores stack up with other states, and how U.S. students stack up with other countries. We will also examine two tax hike initiatives on the November ballot, designed to help California schools. We will highlight the education reforms that are working and we'll show you how some students are succeeding without a traditional college education.
Over the past two months, we've interviewed key local education administrators, politicians, business leaders, college presidents, teachers, former educators, the head of the California Teachers Association, local residents, and even an award winning California teacher who has visited schools in China and India.
We begin with a simple question: "How much are we spending on education, and who's paying for it?"
California residents will spend about $58 billion dollars on K-12 education this year alone. When you tack on federal funds, the figure is closer to $67 billion per year.
So what percentage of the state's general fund go to education in California? In fact, for decades, the majority of California's general fund budget has gone toward education. On average, California spends between 52 and 55% of its general fund budget on all education, K-12 and college.
So how much will California spend this year with a tough economy and budget cuts happening across the state? California will spend over 51% of its general fund budget on all education, which is actually up slightly from last year.
Back in 1984, California voters approved Proposition 37, which created the California state lottery. It was designed to help fund our schools. Part of the pitch was that when you buy a ticket, our kids win too. So what percentage of our education budget is funded by the state lottery? Although school districts are grateful for any cash, figures show the state lottery system only provides about 1.5% of all education funding.
So if the lottery isn't funding the lions share of our education budget... who is? You -- the taxpayer.
The taxes you pay to the state, pay about 55% of K-12 funding. Your local taxes, including property taxes, contribute about 30%. Federal tax revenue provides about 13.5%, and the state lottery provides about 1.5%.
So, how much are we spending on K-12 education here at the local level and what kind of cuts have we faced?
Fresno Unified School Superintendent Michael Hanson said, "We have cut, in the last four years, $130 million out of our budget."
The current budget for the Fresno Unified School District is nearly $1 billion. Over the last four years, the district has lost $130 million.
Clovis Unified School District Superintendent Janet Young says its a similar story in her district. "Just in the past five years alone, since 2007, we've had to make $52 million worth of reductions," said Young. The current budget for the Clovis Unified School District is about $298 million. The district has lost $52 million dollars over the last five years.
From Central Valley spending, to state spending, to national spending -- How much does the United States spend on K-12 education per student? When adjusted for inflation, we're spending roughly twice as much per student as we did 30 years ago. Some think its not enough, while others think its too much.
Coming up in Part 2 on Tuesday: Where does all the money go? How much is California spending per child, per year? What's the average pay for a teacher in California? And does spending more money mean better test scores?
Part 2: Show Me The Money
On part one of this five-part special report, CBS47 showed you how much California spends on education. On part two, we will show you how that money is spent.
According to the California Department of Education, the vast majority of your tax dollars for education goes toward salaries and benefits... 83% in fact. 63% covers salaries and 20% for employee benefits. Only 12% goes toward operating expenses and about 4% goes toward things like books and supplies.
California spends about $ 9,375.00 per year, per child. Nationwide, we rank 35th in per pupil spending. The District of Columbia spends the most at $18,660 per student, per year. The national average is $10,675. Idaho spends a little over $7,000 while Utah spends the least at $6,064 per student per year.
So does spending more per student mean a better education? Educator Teacher Keith Ballard said, "Money's not really going to fix our problem... I really believe that." Ballard is the 2003 U.S. national educator of the year and current San Diego public school teacher. He has traveled to China and India to study their schools and says just spending more on education isn't the answer.
National test scores seem to bear out what Ballard says, at least when you compare per pupil sending and test scores. According to the 17th Edition Report Card on American Education, the District of Columbia, which spends the most, came in only 24th for test results... First in spending: 24th in test results. New York spends the second most and is 10th in test results. California is 35th in spending and 30th in test results. Idaho, which is 49th in spending, comes in 29th in test result, which is just ahead of California. And finally Utah, which was dead last in spending, still managed to come in 41st in test results.
By the way -- Massachusetts, which is 8th in spending, was number one in testing.
So how much does the average teacher in California earn per year? According to the National Education Association, the average yearly salary for a California teacher is just under $70,000 a year. California teachers are the third highest paid in the country, after New York and Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, the average national yearly salary for a teacher is about $56,000 a year.
On average, California teachers collect about $51,000 per year in retirement. Because of the cost of living and other factors, some California school district pay even more. For instance, the average pay for a teacher in Santa Barbara County at Montecito Union Elementary School was over $101,000 a year, the highest in the state. Mountain View-Los Altos Union in Santa Clara County was the second highest. In the Laguna Beach Unified School District, the average teacher pay is over $93,000 a year. In Orange County, the average pay for a teacher is over $77,000 a year.
Closer to home, the average pay for a teacher in Fresno Unified School District is about $65,000 a year. It's slightly less in the Clovis Unified School District at about $62,000 a year.
Nationally, we spend about $800 billion a year on education. From 1976 to 2006, our spending per student has almost doubled. When adjusted for inflation, our spending per child has gone from roughly $6,000 a year to about $11,500 per year, per student. That's up 93%.
But is that investment paying off? One internationally recognized benchmark of student achievement is the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. It tests hundreds of thousands of 15-year-old students from around the globe.
Educator Keith Ballard said, "Here in the United States, we spend the second most in the world per pupil funding and the best we can do on those PISA's exams in the world... 31st in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in Reading.
Those 2009 assessment test results also reveal which counties are excelling: China is 1st in the world in math, science and reading.
On part three, we will take a close-up look at the two propositions on the November ballot, both of which promise more funding for California schools. What if they pass? What if they fail? What does it mean for our local schools? Wednesday at 11:00 p.m. on CBS47 News.
Part 3: Taxing Times... The Proposition Battle
In part three of the five-part series, we take a closer look at the propositions on the November ballot.
Voters will decide that fate of two multi-billion dollar tax hike proposals, both of which promise more funding for schools.
Governor Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 and Molly Munger's Proposition 38 both promise more funding for education but both propositions are both very different. So how will you vote? And what will your vote mean for local schools? We'll show you the numbers and we'll also show you why some believe our schools need reform and not more money.
In his 'Take a Stand' political ad, the governor and his political supporters urge California residents to vote for his proposed multi-billion dollar tax hike. Proposition 30 is a seven year tax hike plan that would collect an additional $50 billion from California residents. For the first four years, the state's sales tax rate would increase by a quarter of a cent. And for seven years, households making $250,000 or more, would pay higher income tax rates.
So where does the $50 billion go? To the state government. Dean Vogel, President of the California Teachers Association, admits not all of the money from Prop 30 will go toward schools. "We're going to pay down the debt, support public schools and we're also going to help communities with police and fire protection," said Vogle.
Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Al Smith is opposed to Proposition 30. "You know it's a good thing to say it's for the children," said Smith. He says the higher taxes in Prop 30 will hurt small businesses. Smith also says if Sacramento really had its priorities right, they would already be doing more for students. "If it's that important, there are other ways to find money for that. You don't have to keep coming to the taxpayer saying, 'Give me more. Give me more. Give me more.'"
But Dean Vogel claims there's simply not enough money. "There is not enough money in the general fund to accommodate all the needs of the citizens of California," said Vogel.
But some would argue there is enough money, it's just being spent someplace else. The state's general fund budget has gotten bigger -- not smaller. This year's fiscal budget has grown by $4.3 billion, which is an increase of about 5%.
Proposition 30 is a double edged sword. If voters say yes, schools will get some of the money. But if voters say no, large automatic trigger cuts kick in, aimed directly at schools. Some say our schools are being held hostage.
Republican Assembly Leader Connie Conway said, "I believe totally that this is holding a gun to the head of the taxpayer and the voters to convince them that this is going to be good for education. It's very egregious when we don't tell the truth."
If Prop 30 fails, state funding for schools would be cut $6 billion. The majority of that, $5.4 billion, would come from K-12 schools. The C.S.U. System and the U.C. Systems would each lose $250 million.
If Prop 30 fails, it could also mean the school year could be cut by two weeks for the next two years.
So what does Prop 30 mean for Fresno Unified School District? Superintendent Michael Hanson said, "If his initiative passes, it means $28 million to Fresno Unified."
So what happens if the voters say 'no' to higher taxes? "If the initiative fails, we'll have to cut another $11 million on top of the $130 million we've already done.
What does Proposition 30 mean for Fresno State? Fresno State President John Welty said, "We're going to be faced with some dire consequences if Prop 30 fails. If voters say no to Prop 30, Fresno State could lose $13 million."
That brings us to Proposition 38, or the so-called Molly Munger Tax. She's a chief financial supporter of the proposition. Munger says unlike Prop 30, all of the Prop 38 funds go toward schools. "The Initiative will provide Clovis with over $35 million per year, provide $80 million for Fresno Unified," said Munger.
Like Proposition 30, 38 is also a temporary tax, but with several key differences: It last longer, raises more money, and almost all of the funds go directly to schools and not to Sacramento. Over the next 12 years, taxpayers would pay $120 billion, about $10 billion per year for 12 years. Virtually everyone would pay for it in the form of higher income tax rates. Also, the money would only go to K-12 schools and none would go to the C.S.U. or U.C. systems.
If Prop 38 passes, Fresno Unified could collect $60 million rather than $25 million from Prop 30.
If both measures were to pass, it's unclear which tax hike would prevail, but the potential tax hike for both measures would be $170 billion.
Larry Sand, former teacher and head of the California Teachers Empowerment Network believes California public schools need reform, not more money. "From what I understand, a lot of it would be going into pensions. I don't think a lot of it is going to hit the classroom." "I think it's time to show public education a little bit of tough love," said Sand.
Sand believes Sacramento and unions have too much control in local classrooms. He supports fewer rules, regulations and bureaucrats and more qualified empowered teachers in the classroom. "And this doesn't mean that the children have to suffer. This means we need fewer adults on the job. We need better adults on the job," said Sand.
Over the course of over two months, we reached out repeatedly to get an interview with Governor Jerry Brown on Proposition 30. He was never available.
In part 4 of the series, we'll take a look at the Three Rs -- Reform, Reform, Reform. And we'll show you what's working and what's not. Thursday at 11:00 p.m. on CBS47 News.
Part 4: 3 R's of Education - Reform, Reform, Reform
In part 4 of our 5-part special report, we take a look at what's working -- and what's not. We'll examine charter schools, parental involvement, community involvement, vocational training, drop out rates, discipline problems, and if California schools can learn anything from schools overseas. -- We begin in China.
Reform #1: Discipline and Commitment
San Diego public school teacher Keith Ballard traveled to China and India to study their school systems. "I was completely blown away with the educational system in China," said Ballard.
High school students in Ging Dow, China begin their day at 6:30 a.m. exercising as a group. All 2,500 students run three times around the track to start the day and then again at 10:00 a.m. and one more time at 4:30 p.m.
Discipline in the classroom in places like China, India and elsewhere reflects a cultural commitment that places an extreme value on education. "If you had asked me before I went to China, I would have told you, you can't teach a class with 50 or 55. But guess what? In China you can. You know why? Because they have something called discipline. They have a universal emphasis on education as an investment," said Ballard.
Fresno Unified School Superintendent Michael Hanson said, "From senior places in government to right down through the local level, through the families to students to the staff... and simply... you can't see that in California." And it shows in our test scores. As a nation, China is now number one in math, science and reading. The United States ranks 31st in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in reading.
Reform #2: Parental Involvement
If there is a universal truth about learning - it could be this: A good education begins at home. It's perhaps the most cost effective reform of all, parents with high expectations, and getting involved in their children's education.
Reform #3: Community Involvement
Tom Crow is the president of the non profit organization, Fresno Compact. He and other local business leaders work directly with school leaders to help Valley students succeed in school and in life. Tom said, "One of the things we asked them. 'What is the most critical area that you have as school superintendents?' Unanimously with the people we talked to, it's kindergarten readiness."
Kindergarten readiness, which brings us to the next reform...
Reform #4: Start Early - Finish Strong
The book ends of K-12 need to be strengthened. That means start early with transitional kindergarten. Despite tight budgets, there's a state-wide push to expand education to include transitional kindergarten. Half of Fresno's schools now have it. And then finish strong - Some high school students take a light load their senior year, which hurts them their freshman year in college. Fresno State President Dr. Welty said, "We have a large percentage of students that need remediation in math and English. I think we could do a better job of putting more rigor into the senior year in high school." Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson agrees. "I think Dr. Welty is accurate, there can and should be more done in the senior year."
Reform #5: Hands on Learning - C.A.R.T.
Over 12 years ago the Clovis and Fresno Unified Schools established a program called C.A.R.T., which stands for Center for Advanced Research and Technology. Clovis Unified Superintendent Janet Young said, "It's very oriented to students to doing hands-on work with one another, and project based."
Eleventh and twelfth grade high school students can attend half day classes that offer hands on learning from everything from technical training to entrepreneurial skills to critical thinking.
Reform# 6: School Choice - Charter Schools
In the 2010 Sundance award winning film, "waiting for superman" the pitfalls of some public school are exposed, while the potential merits of school choice and charter schools are acclaimed. "I am for charter schools, are great options, when done well," said Superintendent Hanson.
Larry Sand, former teacher and now the head of the California Teachers Empowerment Network said, "Not all charter schools are wonderful, but many of them do a better job than the public school." He says most public schools are monopolies and that hurt kids. He says competition is a good thing -- even in the classroom. "Amazingly, every study that's been done has shown that where parents have a choice, the public schools have gotten better," said Sand. He says in most charter schools, teachers are empowered, set free from the bureaucracy and unions. "The unions not being in charter schools, giving those schools more freedom, giving the principals more freedom to perform, makes for better education. If a teacher's not doing a good job in a charter school, he or she is fired. If a principal's not doing it, they get rid of the principal, and if the whole school isn't working, they'll shut the school down. Its just like real life," said Sand.
Reform #7: Removing Bad Teachers
The California Education Code protects teachers -- even the bad ones. Earlier this year, California elementary school teacher, Mark Berndt, was charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children at Miramonte Elementary School, but he couldn't be fired -- at least not right away. In fact, the district later paid him $40,000 just to resign. A group called "Students Matter" is now suing the state over the laws that protect bad teachers.
Reform #8: Dropouts and Vocational Training
For far too many students, the 9th grade is beginning of the end of their formal education. Fresno Unified thinks hands-on learning, similar to C.A.R.T, can help -- even in middle school. It's about creating options and keeping kids in school.
Reform #9: More Math and Science
Like it or not, this generation is now living in a knowledge-based economy. Translation: "Our kids need to master math and science." Technology, math and science are the bedrock of our global economy. Despite that fact, Fresno State almost eliminated its college of science and mathematics last year. The program was later saved.
Reform #10: Raise the Bar - Expect More
When Keith Ballard visited India, he asked students what they wanted to be. Their answers were not rapper, rock star or professional athlete. They said they wanted to be a doctor, scientist, software engineer, etc. Ballard says countries with high expectations have high test scores. "The parents understand the rules, the kids understand the rules, and the administrators understand the rules," said Ballard.
Reforms and test scores are vital because a child who doesn't finish high school will earn less, and will be eight times more likely to end up in prison. Secondly, high paying jobs go to trained and highly educated workers.
In part 5, we will examine how to get a high paying job without getting a traditional college education.
Part 5: Good Jobs Without a 4-year College Degree
As we wrap-up our 5-part special report on the state of education here in California, we'll show you how tens of thousands of local students are securing good paying jobs without a traditional college education.
The Central Valley has close to a dozen schools that offer more than a degree. They can provide a fast-track to a high paying job. In fact, we'll show you some of the top 40 high paying jobs that students are securing without a four-year college degree.
In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, said this about his children, all of whom are billionaires: "None of our children graduated from college. Now if they pool all their credits we can get a degree."
True... all of Warren Buffett's children did have a significant advantage. And also true, college graduates do make more than high school graduates. But it's also true that with a little extra time and money, high school graduates can, and are, landing high paying jobs.
You need something additional to make up the difference and that difference for some, means heading back to school with a specific career in mind.
So whose heading back to school? And what are they studying?
We spoke to Heald College, University of Phoenix, Institute of Technology, and National University, to see what they are seeing.
"We see a lot of single parents or parents" - Heald
"About 45% to 50% are women." - University of Phoenix
"A little bit more than half of our students are male" - Institute of Technology
"Our typical student age is 32." - National University
Several Valley schools offer a fast track degrees for students looking to get ahead. Heald College, "Our motto is get in.. get out.. get ahead," said Carolyn Pierce, President of Heald College in Fresno.
At Heald College, a student can earn an associate degree in as little as 18 months, and perhaps more importantly, earn marketable job skills, which means a good paying job. "We're placing students at over eighty percent." Heald College knows the job market and offers corresponding degrees. "We've identified 9 of them, that is fast growing. There's lots of jobs out there, so we know we can place them," said Carolyn Pierce with Heald College. Some students even land a good paying job before they graduate.
It's a similar story at university of phoenix. Its all about matching the right student, with the right education, for the right job. "We are seeing a resurgence in information systems and technology," said Tammy Maynard with University of Phoenix.
Think about it -- California is home of some of the biggest high tech company in the world: Apple, Google, Intel, Oracle, and Facebook, just to name a few. Information technology is a rich job market for students with the right skills.
At National University, enrollment is up, especially in job growth areas. Bernell Hirning with National University said, "Our enrollment has been way up the last two years and we're actually looking for more space. Our largest programs used to be our teaching credential programs. They're still large, but what has caught up with them is the nursing program."
Like other schools, National University tries to couple a good education with a specific career path. "When they get their degree, they're ready for the work world quickly," said Hirning.
At the Institute of Technology in Clovis, culinary is king. Joe Haydock with Institute of Technology said, "Culinary is huge. We've got the largest culinary school between Los Angeles and Sacramento. "We have good placement in that department -- over 70%," said Haydock.
Like other schools, job placement is vital. Institute of Technology has a whole department devoted to helping students. "They work very hard to generate job orders and to help those students prepare to get into the work place.
Other degrees are also growing fast. "We have a lot of technical students. That's our second largest division," said Haydock. Well-trained heating and air conditioning technicians are also in high demand.
So, what kind of money can you earn without a traditional four year college degree? Based on figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- the business insider recently compiled a list of the top 40 paying jobs that don't require a four year college degree.
With an associates degree, the average electrical technician can earn over $56,000 a year.
The median salary for an engineering technician is over $58,000 and the degree required is also an associates degree.
On average, farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers can earn over $60,000 with a high school diploma. Electrical technicians, $65,000, with a post secondary non-degree award.
With an associates degree, a registered nurse can earn almost $65,000, $68,500 for a nuclear medicine tech, $68,000 for a dental hygienist and $75,000 for a radiation therapist.
An office manager with a high school diploma is over $77,800 and a construction manager can earn over $80,000 with an associates degree. And finally, an air traffic controller with an associates degree can earn over $108,000 a year.
Keep in mind, these are average salaries and not starting salaries. Also keep in mind that a better education means a better job.
About 27% of adults in Fresno don't have a high school diploma, which is almost twice the national average. Mayor Ashley Swearengin's 'Learn To Earn' program is designed to encourage people to finish high school and get their G.E.D. For many, it's the first step toward getting a better job and a better education.