A nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California’s policies and politics


This post is part of our Open Reporting at CALmatters, in which we share progress on stories as we’re developing them, while also inviting you to share thoughts and comments to help inform our...

In the past year, CALmatters, Capital Public Radio and the Los Angeles Times have partnered to examine the history of the state’s pension woes and how key decisions to boost public workers’ benefits without setting aside extra money to pay for them have threatened the bottom lines for universities as well as state and local governments. Now, we’re turning our attention to schools.

Several small, cash-strapped California school districts are using a loophole in state law to boost their revenue by overseeing a raft of far-flung charter schools, according to a recent report published by the state auditor. The result, the report says: dismal academic results for thousands of students and a lot of extra money for the districts, one of which increased its revenue more than 10-fold.

San Francisco, a progressive enclave and beacon for technological innovation, has the worst black student achievement of any county in California. Only 19 percent of black students passed the state test in reading, compared to 31 percent of black students statewide. The problem in San Francisco may be severe, but it’s not unique. Huge gaps between black kids’ scores and those of their white peers have existed in California for decades. And average reading test scores statewide show the problem persists, even as districts make progress narrowing the achievement gap between Latino and white students.

California’s African-American students are struggling with standardized tests. Statewide, only one in three black public school students passed the English portion of this year’s exam,...

Update:  The only teacher shortage bill signed into law in 2017 was Assembly Bill 1157, which is designed to encourage school districts to turn surplus property into employee housing. Gov. Jerry...

Focus on Fifteen: California’s new funding formula sends more money to schools with foster youth, kids learning English and students from low-income families. To assess how well it’s working, CALmatters examined the 15 largest districts where nine out of 10 kids qualify for extra cash. We scrutinized these school systems to judge the policy’s effectiveness so far because if it’s not working for them, it’s not working where it’s needed most. Below you’ll find more information about the districts and what poverty looks like for each of them.

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