Gov. Brown Gives Education a Rhetorical, If Not Fiscal, Boost

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Copyright 1982 Sacramento, Calif.--Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. took educators by surprise this month when he gave education top billing in his annual State of the State speech before the California legislature.

State school officials and education lobbyists noted that this year's speech was one of very few in which Mr. Brown, who has been in office for seven years, has placed heavy emphasis on education.

But by the day after the speech, when the Governor's 1982-1983 budget was unveiled, educators were dismayed to learn that Governor Brown had called for only a 5-percent increase for elementary and secondary education, while seeking an 8.8-percent increase for welfare.

In his speech, Governor Brown emphasized that California's leaders must "increase our commitment to math, science, and computer instruction in high school." For that reason, the Governor said, he was seeking $19.6 million in new funds for instructional materials, resource centers, and staff development in those three subjects.

Three Years of Math

"I believe we must dedicate ourselves," he said, "to ensure that every California high-school student learns at least three years of mathematics and two years of science."

A federal survey shows that only 25.6 percent of California high-school students now take more than three years of mathematics and 41.3 percent take two years of science. The national figures are 31.4 percent and 51.5 percent, respectively.

Governor Brown's proposed budget for elementary and secondary schools for fiscal 1983 totaled $8.997 billion, up $429 million or 5 percent over the current fiscal year.

The Governor proposes to increase the state contribution for school operating costs to about $8.9 billion from the current contribution of $8.364 billion, or 6.37 percent. But his budget contains an unpublicized cut of $302 million in state aid for school programs and facilities.

Wilson C. Riles, state superintendent of public instruction, described Governor Brown's plan as "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Furthermore, Mr. Riles and other state officials said, some of the Governor's proposed cuts would be ille-gal under existing statutes.

While applauding the Governor's new-found interest in the schools, many educators in the state deemed his ideas impractical, complaining that the schools do not have enough money to comply with existing state mandates, much less new ones.

Some districts, for example, reported that they do not have enough qualified teachers to provide more classes in math and science.

Governor Brown's message was not the only issue being discussed by school officials last week, however. State Comptroller Ken Cory, worried that the state is borrowing more than it can afford, warned that he will not pay $657 million to the state's school districts on Jan. 26 unless the state legislature passes two new revenue bills by then.

Vol. 01, Issue 17

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