Full and Fair Funding
Ensuring all students benefit from the resources needed for a high-quality education
by Mike Ambrose, Staff Attorney

n 2016, CSBA’s Board of Directors identified Full and Fair Funding for California schools — funding that provides the access, resources and supports needed to provide a high-quality education for all public school students — as a crucial need for California students and a priority for CSBA.

Despite boasting the sixth largest economy in the world and the highest gross domestic product of any state, California ranks at or near the bottom nationally in nearly every measure of school funding and staffing. California’s level of school funding used to be among the highest in the nation, but over the past four decades, California has fallen well behind the majority of the country. Even after important increases to school funding under the Local Control Funding Formula, California only ranks 41st in the country in per-pupil spending when adjusted for cost of living. California makes less effort to fund schools than other states as well, consistently falling well behind most other states in the percentage of personal income spent on schools.

A snapshot of California shows a state in need of greater educational resources. California has a larger proportion of students in need of additional resources to support their education compared to the national average, including more students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, more English learners and more homeless students. California’s student–teacher ratio is well above the national average, as is the state’s student–staff ratio. Even just to keep the status quo, California schools will need additional funding in the face of rising pensions costs impacting school districts throughout the state. California students showed some improvement in reading on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), but California remains in the bottom tier of states in student test results in both reading and math.

Additional funding will make a difference for students. A growing body of research continues to demonstrate that increasing funding in education makes an important and lasting impact on students, particularly for students in high-need and low-income schools.1 Ensuring full and fair funding in education is crucial to both California’s future and the futures of its 6.2 million public school students.

In order to meet the needs of California students, CSBA has developed a sample Full and Fair Funding Resolution for adoption by its nearly 1,000 member school districts and county offices of education.2 The resolution urges the State Legislature to fund California public schools at the national average or higher by the year 2020, and at a level that is equal to or above the average of the top 10 states nationally by 2025. Polling by CSBA has shown that most voters support increasing taxes so that public schools receive more funding, and this support for additional education funding increases when voters receive accurate information about California’s existing inadequate funding. CSBA continues to work to raise awareness and understanding of the need for full and fair funding in California among its members, the public and the Legislature, and will continue to push the state and its voters to support full and fair funding to all California schools so that all students have the opportunity to graduate from high school with a meaningful diploma — one that prepares them for success in college, career and civic life.

  1. See, e.g., Jackson, C. K., Johnson, R. C., & Persico, C. (2015). The effects of school spending on educational and economic outcomes: Evidence from school finance reforms (No. w20847). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  2. Available at csba.org/FFF