Palo Alto, ground zero of Silicon Valley, lags in edtech, school quality

Like other California cities, Palo Alto suffers from almost 30 years of limited funding due to Prop. 13.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

In the middle of Silicon Valley, the hub of computer software and hardware manufacturing, public schools in Palo Alto are lagging far behind when it comes to classroom technology, reports the Palo Alto Daily News.

A study recently released by Partners in Education found that compared with five of the nation's best school systems, the Palo Alto School district lack funding for technology, has the fewest and oldest computers and limited staffing and instruction to teach computing.

"Performance-wise, we're right in there ... but we're operating with a lot less staff than other school districts," said Susan Bailey, president of Partners in Education, a nonprofit organization that raises private funds for Palo Alto schools.

In a statement, Partners in Education said funding woes stem from the fact that California schools have "the most restrictive public funding model due to Proposition 13 and no ability to adjust funding annually, except through private donations." Proposition 13, which passed in 1978, grandfathered low property valuations for tax purposes.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a watchdog group dedicated to protecting the proposition, countered that "the problems with education have nothing to do with money."

"We are now spending 30 percent more per pupil, on an inflation-adjusted basis, than we were just prior to Prop. 13, when education in California was thought to be the nation's best," Coupal said.
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