The California Tax System and Education

income-inequality-bowl

A tax system is considered adequate if it collects enough revenue to pay for the services required by residents and policymakers. One threat to the adequacy of a tax system is a structural deficit. In states with a structural deficit, revenues do not grow at the same rate as the costs of providing government services. If revenues do not keep up with these increased costs, the state must either raise taxes or cut services. The main area of thought on tax fairness is the ability to pay principle. The transparency of a tax system indicates whether or not information about the tax system is easy to obtain. Available information should include who and what is taxed, the process for making tax decisions and how the funds collected are spent.

In developing a plan for paying off its outstanding obligations, the Legislature may want to consider how these payments will affect school and community college spending (LAO, 2014). When assessing a tax system the various ways the stakeholders are taxed, from property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and lotteries, the following five criterions come into play:

  • Revenue Growth: Revenue sources that “grow along with the economy” are what stakeholders want. The growth factors for property taxes are recently sold properties, newly built and property improvements, parcel and Mello-Roos taxes (Lao.ca.gov, 2012, p. 27).
  • Revenue Stability: This is when the property tax is a stable revenue source and remains “relatively stable from one year to the next”. These stable resources assist the government plan for future needs more effectively (Lao.ca.gov, 2012, p. 28).
  • Simplicity: This is based on transparency and the tax payer’s ability to understand the tax system. The more complex the system, the more expensive and difficult it is for the government to administer.
  • Neutrality: This is the idea that the “ideal tax system is one that alters decisions – about what to buy, what products to make, and where to work or live – as little as possible”. Economists prefer these neutral taxes for it puts the people and businesses in the “best position” to make sound investment decisions for their personal and economical needs (Lao.ca.org, 2012, p. 30).
  • Equity: This criterion relates to how taxes affect taxpayers with different levels of wealth or income. The two standards that Economists use are horizontal and vertical equity to evaluate taxes. An equitable tax system would all property owners at the same rate (Lao.ca.org, 2012, p. 32).

The best tax system would be neutral and equitable for all tax payers. It is difficult to see those with less equity in their homes pay the same amount of taxes that someone who has more equity in their home. Also, if the tax system is neutral, it  will serve the growth of all individual’s economically and personally. Who doesn’t want their state’s tax system to help them, help their students, and help the economy?

References

Brimley, V. , Garfield, R. & Verstegen, D. (2012). Financing education in a climate of change.

Eleventh edition. Boston, Pearson.

Lao.ca.gov. (2012). Understanding California’s Property Taxes. Retrieved from

http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2012/tax/property-tax-primer-112912.pdf/

Lao.ca.gov. (2014). The 2014-2015 budget: Proposition 98 education analysis. Retrieved from

http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2014/budget/prop98/proposition-98-budget-

021414.pdf/

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Fiscal Equity for all whether you’re a Prince or a Pauper…Serrano I and SB90

serrano_SB90

Prior to the 70’s, there was a large disparity in funding to poorer neighborhood schools than to their wealthy counterparts. Many parents felt their students were not receiving an equal education under their Constitutional rights due to this inequity of funding to certain area schools. One parent in particular decided to take action and become the Robin Hood of this cause by bringing to light that the paupers should be educated as equally as the prince and princesses of California.

In 1971, in Serrano v. Priest (Serrano I) the state’s high court ruled that the school finance system violated equal protection because the property tax base of school districts varied widely, resulting in very different amounts raised for schools, on a per-pupil basis. These disparities in wealth and education funding as a result of local property taxes violated the 14th amendment. Serrano originated in Los Angeles County Superior Court as a class action suit on behalf of a class of all California public school students.

The case reflected a few issues of the times: inadequate resources and funding inequities between school districts in California were becoming a reality. Serrano, a parent, filed suit against the California finance system, stating that the fiscal inequalities across the state denied equal resources to all students; rich students and poor students and the battle against discrimination. Property value determined a district’s wealth as evidenced by the poor districts receiving more state assistance and the rich less. Serrano’s case was built upon the premise that without equal funding and fiscal protection, all students will not receive an equal education. Serrano argued his case by comparing two demographically different school districts in Los Angeles County; Baldwin Park and Beverly Hills (FindLaw, 2008). And what was the reason for this disparity? Beverly Hills had much greater property wealth than Baldwin Park. It was differences like this throughout the state that fueled this disparity and kept all students from receiving an adequate and equitable education.

The Senate Bill 90 of 1972 followed Serrano I. The bill established a system of revenue controls that limited a district’s general purpose revenues. Each district’s revenue limit was based on the state aid and local property taxes it received in 1972‐73. Each year, districts’ revenue limits would be adjusted for inflation. So called “high wealth” districts would receive lower annual inflation adjustments while “low wealth” districts would receive higher inflation adjustments. This bill established Average Daily Attendance (ADA) and per pupil funding rules.

Over time, this idea meant to bring districts equity in funding. The strategy was known as the “squeeze formula.” Critics at the time estimated that this method would take 40 years to achieve the level of equalization the court required.   While SB 90 was not a bold step toward revenue equalization, it was the first step in a process that reversed school finance policy in place since the early 1900’s when the legislature assigned property taxes to local governments (Rueben, 2003). The effect was an increase in the foundation level from $355 to $765 for elementary and an increase from $488 to $950 for high school students (Educacy, 2010).

Serrano I and SB90 were at the forefront of attempting to provide all students with fiscal equity to receive an adequate and equal education around the state.  This does not only affect the poor and wealthy areas but also minorities and people of other races. Even though this was an honest effort, it wasn’t as effective as was hoped. Equity is still something

References

Educacy. (2010). CA Education History: How did we get here? Retrieved from

http://www. Educacy.org/ca-education.history.html/

Rueben, K. & Cerdan, P. (2003). Fiscal effects of voter approval requirements on local

            governments. San Francisco, CA: Public Policy Institute of California.

(2008, March 26). Separate and unequal: Serrano played an important role in development of

school-district policy. FindLaw. Retrieved from http://corporate.findlaw.com/law-

library/separate-and-unequal-serrano-played-an-important-role-in.html/

Monday morning at 7:30am I received a phone call from a high school administrator asking me if I had already heard the news of a student, possibly one of mine, who was murdered outside of his home while waiting for his ride to school. I had not. So when I was told that one of my students, a 7th grader, 13 years old, was murdered, it didn’t process immediately.

By 7:40am it was confirmed that my student was dead.

By the start of school at 8:50am I had an office full of 7th and 8th graders that were grieving. It has been that way all day today as well.

Today, my Assistant Principal and I visited the student’s father and brothers. His mother lives in Oklahoma. We took the family food and toiletries to assist in their time of need. We listened, we hugged his older brother and his middle brother who is an 8th grade student on our campus as well. He wants to come to school but has to help his dad with all that is going on.

All I could think about is how do I help my grieving students at the site through this difficult time?

I was browsing through Feedly and came across this Edutopia blog on assisting grieving students. Please read on for information on assisting grieving students and how to provide them with a supportive environment: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/tips-grief-at-school-2-chris-park

Oyster…the Netflix of reading

I love my Kindle Fire and I love to READ. It fits in my purse allowing me to take it on road trips, vacations or to appointments were I will be waiting for prolonged periods of time.

Since I have joined this cohort and started my journey through this doctoral program, I have not had the opportunity to read for leisure. My reading list has gotten lengthy and my poor Kindle Fire is gathering dust on my bedside table. It had made me realize how much I miss my reading time…time to myself. I would often sit on the couch and read before bed or have Friday Date Night with myself to finish a juicy novel.

Sooooo, I decided that I would reconnect with myself at least a couple of evenings a week and on weekends.

I came across Oyster (no, not the food) while curating my information and would like to give it a try. It’s in the realm of Netflix for books. It is a subscription based app that will give a reader unlimited access to ebooks for $9.95 a month. So that means that I will be able to read as much as I want on my device! Oyster can be accessed on iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, and on the web. There is even a 30 day free trial period.

I can’t wait to try it out myself.

Oyster

The Ultimate Change Agent according to Kotter

According to Harvard professor John Kotter, there are eight-steps to follow in order to sustain transformational and sustainable change to any organization. Kotter also argues that each step must be executed sequentially in order for the model to be most effective. Kotter’s research was originally established to assist corporate leaders; however, many educational leaders have referenced his framework in their system’s change plan.

Below you will find an infographic that I created of Kotter’s 8-Steps to Lead Change.

https://magic.piktochart.com/embed/4542166-baird_kotters-8-steps

Is there a such thing as a “Normal” life for Teachers?

Browsing through articles, I came across one titled, ” Why a Teacher Cannot have a Normal Life…” This article resonated with me for when I was an English teacher at Edison High School, where I connected with up to 200 students on a daily basis, I found that I would never be Francine again but always representing my school and occupation as “Ms. Johnson” the teacher.

In the article, the author mentions five things that the non-teacher may not know about the life of a teacher. Number three hit closest to home for me and my experience as an educator. As Ms. Johnson, I had no privacy. Being single, if I wanted to go on a date, I could not go to the local movie theater without running into my students. I wanted to keep my personal life personal. Shopping at the local mall or flea market (Southern California’s equivalent to a swap meet) always ended up in conversations with high school students and their parents. Very necessary tasks such as grocery shopping or a trip to Target couldn’t be done without make-up or a “roll out of the bed and go” appearance. Needless to say, for the most part, I venture outside of my town to shop or watch a movie in the theater.

Number four still comes into play for me now; We can’t get sick. When I was teaching, it was so much easier to just come to school and fight through a cold or the flu than to make lesson plans for three different classes. I feel the same now as an administrator for if I miss work, I get so far behind in my duties and emails that it takes me days to get back on track.

I invite you to read this article for it is a lighthearted reminder of just how much dedication and hard work goes into our profession as well as the sacrifices our teachers make on a daily basis: http://theeducatorsroom.com/2015/01/teacher-cannot-normal-life/

Uniforms and Dress Code Policies

Last night, I was watching the Grammy’s and boy-oh-boy were there some fashion faux pas as well as a few age-inappropriate outfits. Let’s take Madonna as an example…we all know that Madonna is a rebel. Yes, she is. But rebellion and fashion appropriateness for a 56-year-old entertainer should be taken into consideration when dressing for an event such as the Grammy’s (in my humble opinion of course). If you did not see her Red Carpet outfit, Madonna wore a sexy matador outfit that she happened to hike up to expose the cheeks of her buttocks.

What is the fashion and entertainment world coming to?

I love fashion and those that take risks; however, I also love a woman that is secure in her maturity and can be sexy without showing all of her assets as Annie Lennox, a 60 year-old singer-songwriter, did by wearing a black sequined blazer and pant suit. We were able to commend her for her voice and performance rather than focusing on the question, “What the heck are you wearing?”

All that to say what? Should kids be able to wear whatever they want at school? Should there be a dress code or uniform policy and if so, how will these policies effect student achievement?

My personal experience is one of uniforms and dress codes. I have attended Catholic schools my entire K-12 years. I have been impacted by this phenomenon so that I refuse to wear: plaid, Peter Pan collars, bright nail polish on my fingertips, dye my hair to lightly, or wear keds or K-Swiss tennis shoes.

The benefits of my uniform wearing was that my parents school shopped once a year; we didn’t know which families could afford expensive items because we all wore the same thing; I didn’t have to spend much time choosing what to wear to school each day; and gangs existed outside of school and not visible through clothing while we were in school. We were actually at school to learn and become productive members of the community based on our school’s mission.

As the administrator of a school that is 100% SES and free lunch, I have gone back and forth with my Leadership team regarding the possibility of becoming a uniform school. I am definitely a supporter of this idea but I am also a supporter of individual choice, therefore as of now, we enforce the dress code that is uniform throughout the district.

Even with having a dress code, the real question is: does wearing uniforms effect student achievement? In the article below, it states there is research to support positive attendance gains and behavioral improvements such as gang activity, fights and sexual offenses; however, there was no evidence that it supports academic achievement.

Do we need a dress code policy? I say yes. According to the article, as a result, dress codes reduce crime and make it less likely that students will bring weapons to school. Safety is the number one priority on my campus and throughout the campuses in my district.

With the benefits found in the article regarding uniforms, implementing this policy may encourage my site in building a community and to assist in changing our culture and climate. it may result in less bullying and fights as well as being able to immediately spot a trespasser on our campus. The safety component alone would be worth the try.

Take a look at this article and see what you think: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/way-kids-dress-affect-school-16454.htm