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Education

State Superintendent Reacts To Funding Gap

Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
CA Dept of Education
Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

California’s school districts are in deep financial trouble, but some in rich neighborhoods are faring quite well, according to a KPBS/Watchdog investigation.

To search the maps, click on a district to view revenue and per student funding information about that district. The highlighted districts are basic aid districts.

In California, neighborhood property values should not determine how well a public school is funded. A 40-year-old court ruling was supposed to put an end to the funding gap between rich and poor neighborhoods.

But an analysis of government statistics revealed some small school districts in affluent neighborhoods have nearly twice the funding as other public schools.

Tom Torlakson is the state’s newly elected superintendent of public education. In response to the KPBS/Watchdog Institute investigation, Torlakson said on twitter he’s concerned about the inequities and his transition team has a committee looking at the issue.

Brooks Allen, the Director of Education Advocacy for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California said education cuts across the state are painful for everyone, but the inequities in the system are "quite disturbing."

“These wide disparities in funding between one district and a neighboring district are precisely the issues that drove plaintiffs to file the Serrano v. Priest action," Allen said. That 1968 California Supreme Court ruling ordered the state to address the gap between rich and poor neighborhoods.