California’s high costs help explain why increased spending has not produced better results.
The average teacher’s salary in California is around $79,000, which is 50% more than in Texas, but that does not stretch far because of the extortionate cost of living.
One example is a programme developed by the Dallas Independent School District, which eliminated seniority-based pay in order to reward its best-performing teachers, with some earning $80,000-90,000 a year.
Those star teachers who agree to teach in a high-needs school get an extra salary lift of $8,000-10,000.
With defined-benefit pensions and health-care subsidies, spending on benefits is eating up a growing share of the education budget.
In 2012 Californian voters approved a 30% increase in income-tax rates, in part to fund public schools, but all that extra funding went to pensioners and their health care, rather than to pupils or teachers’ salaries, says Mr Crane.
is to educate whole generations, but if California and Texas were to be graded for their achievements in the classroom, they would barely pass.
They rank 36th and 41st, respectively, out of 51 states (including Washington, ) for educational outcomes, according to Education Week, a news firm.
Yet less than 7% of economically disadvantaged kids are prepared for college, compared with 27% of children who are not economically disadvantaged.
Those who enroll in community college or university in either state can spend months taking remedial courses before their coursework counts towards a degree, says Jim Lanich of Educational Results Partnership, an Education is the biggest budget item in both states, costing 0bn per year in California and bn in Texas. “Education is the single largest enterprise in California. And it sucks,” exclaims David Crane of Govern for California, a political outfit.