Kids Count Campaign Demands

Kids Count Campaign Demands:

Get It! Give It!  Guard It!



California’s education is in a major state of emergency.  Education along with many other public services are constantly being cut, and we are in our 9th year of budget down fall.  Although California’s budget is looking grim, California’s economy continues to grow.  Many oil companies doing business in California, development agencies, and large corporations are reporting record profits.  These record profits are by no means reflected in their level of contribution to public services.  If California’s budget is ever going to get out of a state of deficit, there is a drastic need to increase revenues.  Elected officials need to start looking at individuals and businesses which are currently not contributing their fair share, yet benefiting from California’s land, resources, business and employment pool.  As long as we allow Republicans to have a grid lock on reforming or increasing taxes with the super majority rule on taxes, we will continue to have low income communities and new home owners carry a major part of the burden in funding public services.  We will all benefit from well educated students and therefore, we should all contribute equitably to funding a quality education for all of our children.


  • Simple Majority:  Repealing the 2/3 vote on tax reform and returning to a simple majority.

Although Democrats make up a majority of both Assembly and Senate, a small number of Republicans are able to halt the process of increasing taxes at the state level.  Literally two Senators and two Assembly members have the power of increasing any taxes. Super majority allows four individuals to hold a lot of power in this process.  Since most Republicans are against any form of tax increase, this has left California without any increased revenue which has resulted in that state borrowing federal funds year after year to make ends meet.  If we want to end this nine year cycle of deficit, we must return to a simple majority.

  • Split Roll: Taxing commercial and industrial property at a higher rate than residential property

Since Proposition 13, California’s property tax burden has gradually shifted from businesses to homeowners.  Under Prop 13, unless a property changes in ownership, property value and therefore property tax does not need to be re-assessed.  Commercial and industrial property does not change hands as often as homes do. In addition, there have been many ways that businesses have disguised their sales to dodge reassessment of their property value to avoid an increase in taxes. A Split Roll would allow homeowners to still be protected under the property tax cap established under Proposition 13, but it would force corporations to pay a higher percent of property taxes, reassess their properties, and essentially pay their fair share. A split roll would give California a $4 billion per year revenue increase!

  • Oil Severance Tax: Taxing Oil Extraction

California is the only state in the whole country that does not tax oil extraction.  Alaska charges their oil companies a 25%  tax per barrel extracted.  California is the third largest oil producer in the country, and yet we are the only one of the 22 major oil states that gives the industry a free ride.  In 2006, Chevron and other oil companies in California had the audacity to set a new standard in campaign financing by spending $150 million to defeat prop 87, which would have steered the tax proceeds to alternative fuel programs.  If California put a 6% tax on oil extraction, California’s budget would see a minimum $25 billion increase in its budget.

  • Repeal Corporate Tax Breaks: Limit the amount of tax breaks that large corporations receive

Since the passage of Prop 13, the average person’s taxes have increased, while large corporations have more and more ways of evading the amount of taxes they pay.  Repealing certain tax breaks would limit the ways in which corporations can maneuver their gains and losses, calculate their income, and receive additional tax credits in order to reduce the amount of taxes they pay.  Reducing the tax breaks would give California’s budget a minimum increase of $1.3 billion per year.



Over five decades after the legislated end to segregation, California’s education system continues to be very segregated not only by race, but by income, and resources.  Students attending schools in low income neighborhoods tend to have lower paid and less experienced teachers, less culturally enriching programs, more run down facilities, less access to school materials, and less access to funds in order to provide their students with a high quality education.  Even though students in low income schools start at a disadvantage and need additional resources and services in order to meet a given achievement standard, their schools tend to get additional funding cuts due to their Academic Performing Index (API), their attendance, and their decreasing enrollment.  If we want to give all students an equal opportunity at a quality education, funding needs to be distributed equitably both at a state and a local level to reflect the needs of the school.  In addition, a new funding formula is needed to simplify California’s complicated education funding system.  This will allow for legislators, elected officials, school administration and community members alike to understand the funding system, and be able to take part in holding local and state government accountable to an equitable distribution of funds.




  • Targeted funding formula:  Implementing a funding formula that gives targeted funding

If we want every student to meet state standards, California needs to meet every student’s needs!  Revenue allocation should be guided by student needs and the funding formula should reflect that certain communities such as; low income, English Language Learners, and Special Education students have additional needs that require additional targeted funding to meet the needs of those individual students.  Revenue allocations should also reflect the needs of the specific community and should adjust funding allocations based on regional cost differences such as; cost of living and labor market conditions.  Lastly, the funding system needs to be simple, transparent, and easily understood by public, educators, and decision makers alike.There are many formulas that exist that attempt to address the above needs.  The Kids Count Campaign is endorsing the Bersin, Kirst, and Liu funding formula (BKL Formula) as a potential formula that would address these needs.

BKL Formula Break Down

BKL Formula has five main components:

1. Base Funding

  • Every school across the state should receive and equal predetermined amount per pupil to cover the basic costs to provide a quality education.
  • The Base funding covers general support to buy textbooks and materials, to maintain safe and clean facilities, and to employ qualified teachers and other school personnel.
  • Base funding would be adjusted by regional cost differences.
  • Base funding reflects the level of resources that enables an average child to meet California’s academic performance standards

2. Special Education

  • Continuing to guarantee students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
  • Special education services would continue range from language and speech assistance to transportation to adapted physical education.
  • California’s Special Education services are coordinated by 124 Special Education Local Planning Areas (SELPAs).  California allocates special education revenue to SELPAs based on the average daily attendance (ADA) of regular student.  The amount per ADA varies across the state’s 124 SELPAs.  The BKL formula works to allocate equal funding per ADA in each SELPA within five years.
  • Special education money would also be adjusted by regional cost differences.

3. Targeted funding for low-income students and English learners
a. Low- income: BKL formula defines “Low-income” students as eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch.
There is a well documented negative relationship between poverty and achievement.
Students  in high poverty schools face a double disadvantage arising not only from their own poverty  but also from the poverty of their peers.  Students in high poverty schools tend to have lower aspirations, more negative attitudes towards achievement, and higher levels of disruption and mobility.  In addition, parents are less likely to be involved in the school, to hold teachers accountable, and to be able to provide financial or other support.  Therefore, poverty concentration is an important factor in allocating resources, as poor students in high poverty schools face greater educational challenges.
b. English Learners (EL)
There is a large achievement gap between EL and non-EL students and many studies show that EL students face special challenges in school, especially a lack of teachers appropriately trained to teach EL students.  The special needs of EL students include bilingual support personnel, appropriate material for language development, and additional instructional time to learn English and subject-matter content. In order to address these needs, there needs to be an explicit weight at which EL students should be funded.  In addition, over half of California’s elementary English learners attend schools where ELs comprise more than 50% of the student body.  This linguistic isolation limits the exposure to English learners to native English speakers who can serve as language role models.  As with poverty, EL status present educational challenges whose severity varies by concentration and therefore funding should also reflect that concentration.
c. Concentration
In designing a finance system responsive to concentration of disadvantage, BKL formula noted the evidence that poverty concentration begins to have a negative impact on achievement when when low-income students comprise more than 50% of school enrollment.  Tittle 1 funds were intended to address this fact.



  • Targeted program that provides a uniform amount per targeted student – Call this amount $T – in districts where the unduplicated count of targeted students is 50% of enrollment or less.
  • Where targeted students comprise more than 50% of enrollment, BKL proposes increasing the amount per targeted student according to the formula $T x 2 x %of low income or EL.


4. Regional Cost Adjustment
Education dollars do not have the same purchasing power throughout California due to the varying wages by region.  As a result, cost of hiring and recruiting the same teachers or other school personnel is different from place to place.  Funding allocation should reflect these differences.

  • BKL propose adjusting 80% of the dollar (roughly the share of district budgets devoted to personnel) in each component of the proposed formula, using a regional wage index developed by Heather Rose and Ria Sengupta.

5. Hold harmless condition

  • No district loses money under BKL proposal.  Every district receives at least as much total revenue going forward as it receives now.
  • This means that reforms will be phased in gradually as new money becomes available

For More information:
“Getting Beyond the Facts: Reforming California School Finance,” Bersin, Alan, Kirst, Michael, Liu, Goodwin. April 2008.



California’s students are experts in education system, yet their experience and opinion is never sought or considered by decision makers when trying to make decisions around funding priorities or any education policies for that matter.  Even though students, parents, educators and community members are all affected by funding priorities and decisions, there are limited avenues for these stake holders to get informed about, understand or weigh in on those decisions.  The few spaces that do exist for input tend to be inaccessible and hold no decision making power.  Without these spaces, there is not only a lack of voice in Sacramento, but there is a lack of accountability for those who implement the reforms.   Thus, the reform loses its focus and vision along the years.  If we want ownership and investment from education stakeholders in the education system, there needs to spaces where these stakeholders can have meaningful engagement in the process and spaces to hold decision makers accountable.


  • Voice and Power at the State Level:

Implementing a representative committee of students, parents, educators and community that have input and decision making power at the state level.

If we want to make sure that we maintain an equitable funding system we need a space where community voice holds power and is not tokenized.  In order for this to happen, there needs to be a space where community members can weigh in on funding decisions and priorities from the beginning of the process.  The governor’s finance department is the first body that deals with the funding formula and creates the budget that goes to the legislature for revisions and approval. Education stake holders need to have a place at the finance committee level so that they are able to weigh in from the first moment that the education budget is created.





The faith of California lies in what we decided to do for our children today.  The matter at hand is not weather we have funds or resources available to provide for the kids of California, the matter at hand is weather California as a state is willing to re organize its priorities and the abundance of funds and resources to make sure that every kid has a quality education, access to the resources that exist, and an opportunity to a future.  We can continue to fail the children of California and continue to push them out of school, pink slip their teachers, not provide them with the materials and environment they need to meet the standards, and we can continue provide for the most fortunate children of the state and leave the rest behind, or we can decide through our policies and funding strategies and our decision making system, that KIDS COUNT!