Will more money for our schools make them better?

Claudia's picture

At last week's launch, the education group had a lively conversation about key issues in education.  Everyone agreed that the schools need more money and support the campaign "Close the Loophole."  The big question is HOW that additional money is spent.  The group honed in on two areas:  class size and curriculum.

 

People felt that with lower class sizes in all grades kids will learn more.  Not only that, teachers will feel less tired of managing large classes.  Ask any teacher what it's like to teach a class of 35 students versus 25 students.  They'll all tell you it makes a huge difference.  The group acknowledged that 15 students per class would radically change our system.  While expensive, our kids are worth it.

 

In terms of curriculum, the group felt that what is being taught in schools today (particularly high schools) is not relevant and engaging for students.  Kids don't see how algebra, for example, will be used in their later life.  A big push in education is around 21st century skills (see The Partnership for 21st Century Skills at http://www.p21.org).  If our students are going to truly be prepared for their adult lives, people felt that the curriculum needs to be completely re-written, and this, of course, costs money.

 

Phil Ting's picture

More money would be a great start

While money isn't the only answer, boy, would it be a great start.  Currently, New York and New Jersey schools spend nearly twice as much per pupil than CA schools - $15K per pupil vs $8K - and these are public schools.  Private schools in SF cost upwards of $24K a year.  Smaller class sizes, extra course offerings in art, music, PE and science would make huge differences.  At some point, classes are so large teachers can't teach, they are just supervising the children and hoping they will learn something.  Class size reduction would be a great start and then tackling a relevant curriculum could be the next herculean task.

 

bobbyh's picture

More important than money...

I agree that more money will absolutely help the school system--obviously decreasing classroom size, refining the curriculum, etc. are all good things and can only lead to better outcomes--but I feel like an even more important piece of capital that the school system needs is human capital from the parents.  We need to find a way to engage parents in their children's education, fostering closer ties between parents and teachers and promoting parents to be active in their kids' learning process. That involvement is not something money can buy and I believe is the single most important factor in the child gaining a quality education. 

Nowadays, we expect the school system to raise our child for us and that is simply not going to happen.  We as parents need to be actively engaged, having regular meeting with teachers, spending time everyday with our kids helping them learn, helping them deal with issues at school, etc.  Even if we could take classroom sizes down 50%, a teacher still can't provide the guidance and instill ethics, morals, values etc. in every one of their students--it is unfair to ask them to do so.  That is the parents' job and the real crisis here is not just that schools are underfunded, but that the human capital part of this equation from parents is largely missing.  No amount of money in the world can fix that. 
 

Phil Ting's picture

Parents must be involved

Dual income households have many great benefits for all of us.  However, working parents need to juggle childcare and child rearing.  At the same time, parents have less time to raise their children, schools have less money to assist families as teacher, counselors and staff are being cut right and left.  I heard from a principal today that she has been teaching for the last 14 years and each year they have had less and less money in their budget.  Yet, they have the same number of kids - 300.  So every year, per pupil spending goes down.  How do schools help working families educate and raise their children?

John Popescu's picture

It's not a problem of

It's not a problem of money.

It is a problem of priorities.

Here in San Francisco we have a parcel tax, a higher sales tax, and monies supposedly being distributed to the schools through the California Lottery.

We simply can not go back to the days prior to proposition 13 where school boards levied homeowners for increased funding forcing elderly , low , and middle income residents from their homes.  

It is time the school district learned to live within it's means and establish budget priorities to the end of education.  Cut the unnecessary , deadwood, and irrelevant.

 

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137