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Simitian 'education update' set for Jan. 28

Original post made on Jan 21, 2012

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, will discuss school funding and pending legislation in an "education update" in Palo Alto Jan. 28.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, January 21, 2012, 1:49 PM

Comments (7)

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Posted by Henry
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Simitian has been in Sacramento a long time, is a member of the majority party, and is a member of the budget committee, so was well positioned to give us legislation dealing with the hard stuff, like the state's financial pickle. But no. Instead, we get nanny bills and a train to nowhere, and the tough stuff is left undone. Too bad for us, and too bad for Santa Clara county if this career politician gets elected as supervisor.


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Posted by Stanly
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

It's pretty clear that the Democrats in Sacramento think funding High Speed Rail is the highest priority project in the state. It's also clear that education funding is to be held out as a hostage to pass Browns proposed tax bill. The Democrats have very clearly framed their 'strategy' in 2012: The hundred billion dollar (and counting) Boondoggle Express vs. educating the youth of this state.

As far as I can tell, Simitian has done nothing to stop High Speed Rail, and will be termed out of office before doing anything more than issuing statements that he needs more time to study the plans. And now this sudden concern about education funding from Simitian? Joe has made his priority clear, tow the party line and support High Speed Rail. He's lost my support.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Simitian spent 12 years in Sacramento and education is worse off then ever.

Has Simitian done anything to reallocate spending priorities? Why, with a Democratic State Senate, Democratic State Assembly and Democratic governor, has Simitian not shown leadership in terminating the high speed rail project. I suspect that he doesn't want to piss off the special interests, since he'll be looking for campaign contributions and PAC support for his try as county supervisor.

Quite frankly, if we are to get out of the mess that California has become, we need new elected officials at all levels of government. Elect someone who will represent us, not Simitian, who only will represent special interests.


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Posted by Say-Goodbye-Joe!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2012 at 9:26 am

I will be interesting to see if Simitian will provide any information about "results" of the vast sums that are dumped into the education system. For instance, how many dollars were spent for the total cost of education, state wide, during Simitian's first, and last years. What are the graduation rates for that period? And what about standardized testing results, such as the API (Academic Performance Index)? Has it gone up in proportion to the increase in education spending?

Simitian is a smooth politician. However, it's clear he has no idea how to run a large organization, much less a government.

It's time for Simitian to go!


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Posted by DC
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Jan 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm

While it's true that the amount of money we spend on education is quite significant, it's entirely necessary. The school system serves the needs of millions of students, has hundreds of thousands of employees, (and by extension, pays the health care costs of additional hundreds of thousands). Education spending as a share of the state budget has been decreasing. If we had held funding per student constant a decade ago and only allowed for growth, our schools would have received tens of billions of dollars more. Is it bloated administration? Hardly - our administrative ratios are among the lowest in the nation, and are too low to handle all that we expect of them. Our state's staffing ratios for teachers, administrators, counselors, nurses, and librarians all rank around #46-51 nationally (with Washington D.C. included). With child poverty on the rise and cuts in all types of support at school, how reasonable is it to hope for indications of an improving school system? And yet, there are some signs of progress if you think test scores are worth considering. If there has been progress despite these conditions, our schools and teachers should be hailed for their heroic perseverance rather than denigrated as they too often are. (Cue the trolls). For further consideration, when you look at taxes as a percentage of GDP, the USA is rather low, while our poverty rate, infant mortality, homelessness and incarceration rates, and other negative quality of life indicators are among the highest in modern industrial democratic nations. We're unwilling to invest in our public institutions (other than military and prisons) enough to improve, and then we shout about our institutional shortcomings to justify choking them further.


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Posted by Say-Goodbye-Joe!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

Given the focus, and intensity, of this response, it's clear that "results" are not a primary concern of the poster.

Will respond to this posting in parts—

> when you look at taxes as a percentage of GDP,
> the USA is rather low,

The statutory tax rate, for those paying taxes, is about 65% of income. ("Statutory" taxes are the maximum rates required by law before "exemptions" are applied.)

Consider the following:

Federal Income taxes (~28%+)
State Income taxes (~10%)
Social Security Taxes/Self-employment taxes (~7.5/16%)
Property taxes (variable, but likely 5% here in California)
Sales Taxes: (Variable, but at least 1-2%)
Use Taxes (Variable, but likely 1-2%)
FAA Taxes (Variable, but at least 10% of airfare)
All other taxes (variable, but likely in the 5% range)

(Since the "variable" taxes range from 0-10%, it's difficult to do more than acknowledge that range.)

So, the total of all of the "distributed"/hidden taxes is at least 65% of our income.

Additionally, estimates are that about 25% of the price of all goods and services are really income and property taxes, which the manufactures/suppliers add into their cost-of-doing business (effectively hidden taxes).

Sadly, none of this sort of information is ever taught in the public school system—so we have "school supporters" making claims about our "taxes" which are simply not true.

Note—before the Obama Administration took office, government at all levels consumed about 40% of GDP. With Obama in the White House, this number has jumped to about 50%. Since government expenditures must eventually be paid for with taxes, the effective tax rate for those paying taxes will sooner-or-later need to rise to the government spending levels. For most people 50+% of the GDP is just too high!

Final Note--About 47% of Americans don't pay federal income tax--pushing the taxes onto the backs of those who do, and corporations.


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Posted by Say-Goodbye-Joe!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm

> While it's true that the amount of money we spend on education
> is quite significant, it's entirely necessary.

Hmmm .. let's follow this thinking for a bit ..

> The school system serves the needs of millions of students,
> has hundreds of thousands of employees,

There are about 6.2-6.5 million students in the public education system in California—about 10% of the total for the nation. Although not known for certain, it is believed that about 15% of these students are in the country illegally—increasing costs and (sadly) decreasing performance of the system as a whole. Additionally, these "illegals" are a source of crime in the schools, which destabilizes the expectation of society (at large) that schools should be a "safe place" for students.

> and by extension, pays the health care costs of additional
> hundreds of thousands).

There are at least 600,000 employees (certificated and non-certificated) employed by the public schools in California. Including higher education, there are about one million people employed in "education" here in California—out of a pool of 14-16 million workers. That comes to about 7% of the California labor force is employed in "education" alone—which routinely is not producing how quality "products". (The CAL system does seem to be "producing". The CSU system, to a clearly lesser degree, and the CCs—not at all! But the per student costs are now exorbitant. It's not hard to see costs in excess of $25,000 per student in the CSU/CAL systems—a number which will continue to grow, year after year, until the system collapses of its own weight.

In short, "education" is about "jobs" .. more than anything else.

> If we had held funding per student constant a decade ago and only
> allowed for growth, our schools would have received tens
> of billions of dollars more.

Maybe .. but what would have been the results of having "more money". Virtually every school budget in every school district in the US spends about 85% of its money on salary/benefits for staff. There is no evidence that academic achievement is ever the result of increasing the funding of "the schools by billions more".

> Is it bloated administration?

Probably not—although it is hard to believe any numbers that are generated about education financing these days. It's generally believed that about 6%-9% of their operational costs in "administration" for the "education" system. But then there are the County Offices of Education that consume billions of dollars—with almost no evidence of results for this money's use. It's almost impossible to learn what these Offices really do.


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