Future Demographic Challenges to California School Districts

Peter A. Morrison, RAND

California’s distinctive demographics impose extraordinary demands on the state’s public education system, shaping current and future statewide educational needs. First, California has within its borders 12.8% of the nation’s school-age population but only 11.8% of the nation’s adult population (potential taxpayers). Consequently, California taxpayers shoulder disproportionate responsibility for persons of school age. Second, ethnic and racial diversity is advanced among California’s youth, and one-tenth of Californians are recent immigrants, generating an abundance of “English learners” and linguistically isolated households. Both these disparities heighten educational costs for affected school districts: English learners by imposing specialized and/or higher per capita staffing needs and linguistic isolation by hampering two-way communication between schools and parents. Third, the continuing geographic redistribution of population within the state will amplify public school enrollment growth in particular clusters of counties. Inevitably, particular school districts will be strained by enrollment pressure, staffing needs, and crowding of existing facilities.

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Presented in Session 72: School Demography