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State of the Bay

City Visions: How do we pay for public education?


In the 1970s, California ranked 7th out of all states in per pupil funding. Now it's 41st  in the nation according to Governor Gavin Newsom. The education budget line is robust, but most Californians think it is not enough. How does the state pay for public education, K through college? Will the new Prop. 13, a $15 billion bond measure, change the landscape? What about efforts to reform the old Prop 13, which restricted property taxes that were used to pay for schools? 


Ricardo Cano, Education Reporter, Cal Matters;

Ted Lempert, President, Children Now and former founding CEO of EdVoice; and

Sean Walsh, Principal, Wilson Walsh George Ross Consulting.

Ted Lempert on Teacher Salaries in California compared to the Nation:

It is more expensive here, and yes, our employees who work for government in this state make more on average across the board, but that’s because it’s more expensive. What we would argue is "Why is that teachers and people who work with kids are not paid more than the average public employee?" I think it would startle most folks to realize that that’s not the case. Yes, our teachers' pay is relatively competitive nationally. My question back to folks is “Do you think we should cut teacher pay?” I was at one of our local burger places last week and guess who was serving me? One of our high school teachers. [B]ecause we are trying to stay competitive with teacher pay, everything else is at the bottom. So we don’t ask our police forces to buy their own equipment. We don’t ask our other government employees to pay out of pocket for equipment. We need to get serious about comparing education to our other government services. 

Sean Walsh on Split Roll’s Impact on San Francisco:

That’s the sale pitch for the people that are in favor of [split roll]. You’re just going to take from the “evil” Irvine Companies and Kroll companies and Lyon companies and you’re going to take from the fat cats and you’re going to distribute it around to schools...These are businesses and when a business has an additional cost that’s levied on, those costs are going to be passed on to people leasing those properties. That’s going to be an additional cost added to a dry cleaner that leases from a strip mall, for a boba tea place that’s in the strip mall. San Francisco in this listener range is passionate about small businesses and local businesses being there. Those people are barely making it right now in the city of San Francisco. So the Starbucks that have the multinational companies, they’re going to be able to deal with those costs and raise their prices. I think it’s the burrito shops and the mom and pop coffee shops and these other places that are going to suffer greatly. And you’re going to see more and more gentrification coming into these urban areas that I think a lot of people loathe in these listener areas.