What price equal opportunity?

In 2018, researchers with the American Institute for Research looked at California’s spending the prior school year and calculated that, to educate all the state’s K-12 students to California’s learning standards, the state would have had to spend an extra $25.6 billion over the $66.7 billion it spent that year.

That figure — essentially a cost estimate for closing the achievement gap — varied by school district. But overall, it worked out to about $16,800 per pupil, an increase of more than one-third.

Newsom’s proposed budget for 2020-21 calls for a record $84 billion next fiscal year for public schools and community colleges. But the governor, legislators, advocates, educators and experts agree that the state needs to commit even more to education, pointing to cost-of-living-adjusted rankings that place California 41st in education spending.

Education is already a massive line item, and lawmakers have been loath to make it bigger, given the traumatic cuts that had to be made during the last recession. Ballot measures, however, could go before voters in November and in 2022, with the aim of raising billions of public school dollars by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Californians.