Budget Expert John Mockler tells participants at the State PTA’s lobbying conference Monday night in Sacramento that despite being fed a starvation diet, public schools are helping an ever-more diverse student body make significant academic improvement. Mockler derided what he called an “industry” that has profited by declaring that public schools are failing and that public education students are not making sufficient academic progress.
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) 7 February 2012 – The California financial and education expert who helped California Teachers Association craft the constitutional minimum funding guarantee for schools said Monday night that the state’s public schools are making great academic achievements, despite receiving $60,000 less per classroom than the national average.
John Mockler, whose professional positions have included executive director of the California State Board of Education and aide to former Speaker Willie L. Brown, charged that an “industry” has sprung up to profit by making the public believe the state’s education system is failing.
Speaking to the annual legislative meeting of the California State PTA (CAPTA), Mocker detailed what he called a “surge in California school activity” that the standard media is not reporting.
Mockler called the gains remarkable, given the fact the state has an increasingly diverse student population with ever-greater needs.
The fiscal expert noted that the state’s student body is shaped by 353% increase in the number of English Language Learners since 1980, while the overall student population has gone up by only 52%.
The number of students with special needs – who are costly to educate – has risen by 88%, Mockler said, 70% faster than the non-Special Education population.
He noted that California’s large class sizes would require the state to hire another 150,000 teachers to have similar teacher to student ratios like those found in Montana.
Mockler pointed to the drop in funding for schools as a percentage of per capita income. He said the fall from 4.5% to 3.3% in 2010 has resulted in an annual loss to schools of $18 billion.
“We don’t spend very much [on public education], we don’t spend as much as we used to, and we don’t spend as much a percentage of personal income as other states,” Mockler stated.
“We’re doing better with less resources….the deepness of learning is not measured by test scores. We have no art in our schools, we have no music, there are some many things we don’t have, it’s hard to understand it,” Mockler mused.
The budget expert cited a real and calculable cost to society of eliminating these elective courses. “Students can join the chess club gang, the glee club gang, or a real gang, which ever you would you prefer,” he noted.
Mockler also commended Gov. Jerry Brown on the “best budget for schools in 47 years….If that budget passes and the governor’s initiative passes, California will be spending $14-16 billion more in 2015-2016,” Mockler figured.
Photo and story by Len Feldman