It’s been six years since California enacted major reforms in the way it collects child support payments. Have the changes worked? The Legislative Analyst’s Office says the state continues to lag behind the nation in collecting the money, does poorly on most federal performance measures.
A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that most people think the state should spend more on public education, and they know just where the state should get the cash. Majorities oppose increasing the sales tax or property taxes, but favor a hike in the top bracket of the state income tax. Most people think something should be done: The share of Californians convinced that education is a big problem is higher now than at any time since 1998, when the PPIC poll began. Also some politics: The governor’s approval rating is at 38 percent, Westly is six points up on Angelides and Prop. 82 is only at 51 percent yes, a low number this far from Election Day.
The National Center for Youth Law examines the California foster care system, and finds that the state is failing to meet federal standards. On a variety of criteria — repeat abuse or neglect, the frequency of reunification with parents or adoption, continued mistreatment in foster care — the Golden State is failing to help its most helpless children. The report also has county-by-county numbers that provide interesting local comparisons.
The California Budget Project sets out to determine how much California spends every year on young people, defined as 21 and under. The answer is more than $46 billion, almost 60 percent of General Fund spending. Most goes to K-12 education, of course, the rest to health and human service programs, juvenile corrections and higher education.
It’s been obvious for some time that America is, over the long haul, becoming substantially more accepting of gays and lesbians. California has often led the way in this regard, and a new Field Poll shows opinions migrating toward a more accepting position on a wide variety of issues. Favoring gay marriage remains a minority position, but barely, and it’s obvious which way the tide is running. Politically, Gavin Newsom has bet right on gay marriage, which will eventually be accepted everywhere, although he’ll have to wait a while for the bet to pay off. Those who oppose gay marriage are winning all the battles, but they will surely lose the war.
Two high-profile California mayors — Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles and Jerry Brown in Oakland — have made a point in recent years of pushing for more control over their local school districts. The USC California Policy Institute looks at mayoral control and concludes that it is “not the magic bullet to solve the problems in many large, urban school districts.”
California voters will decide in June whether to raise taxes to pay for universal preschool. The Libertarian-oriented Reason Foundation argues that the measure would subsidize the middle class and the rich, and will also “expand government provision of education, destroy the private market of preschool, and expand the power of teachers’ unions.”
The Case Against Universal Preschool in California
Thanks to Rob Reiner, Californians will be voting this June on an initiative to bump up taxes on the rich to pay for universal pre-school. Judging by a new report from RAND, it sounds like a pretty good idea. Researchers estimate that pre-school for all would create lots of benefits down the road, including fewer kids who flunk a grade or end up in special education, more teenagers completing high school, and even fewer juvenile court cases. The study also breaks down the numbers by county, and finds that the liberal Bay Area (where a lot of the yes votes will probably come from) would benefit the least, mostly because kids already have high pre-school attendance rates. Ironically, the more conservative Central Valley (which may be less receptive to higher taxes) would benefit the most.
County-Level Estimates of the Effects of a Universal Preschool Program in California
The official high school dropout rate for California is just 13 percent. But the California Research Bureau compares 9th grade enrollment to the number of students who graduated four years later, and finds that almost 30 percent of the kids failed to get a diploma.
High School Dropouts, Enrollment, and Graduation Rates in California
Children Now gives California a report card for how we’re treating our children. The upshot: They’re born healthy but soon grow fat. The best grade, a B+, is awarded for infant health programs. The worst mark is for childhood obesity, where the state gets a D.
California Report Card 2005: An Assessment of Children’s Well-Being