‘Gimme Shelter’: California’s housing crisis forces college students into homelessness
In this June 6, 2018 photo, students set up tents in the Los Angeles Riverbed, a recreational area for students, at Venice College. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
By MARCIA GUTHS
AP Education Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — For decades, middle-class families with children in public schools in Los Angeles or Sacramento have been able to send their kids to school in private, not-for-profit institutions.
But that’s changed as a result of the state’s new public-private school lottery program.
Private nonprofit schools have increasingly started to drop out of the public school system over the last decade, particularly in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas where the lottery was the primary financing mechanism. In those areas, the number of private schools has decreased by over 1,000 over the last decade, while public schools are growing at a faster rate.
The program, which began in 2007, offers more money to schools that are not in the traditional public school system.
California, as one of the largest states in the country, has a lot of the nation’s most affluent, as well as some of the poorest. So, while the programs are designed to help the affluent, they are also helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have little to no chance of getting into the private school they want.
“We’re seeing some schools drop out and others drop in and we’re getting rid of the ones that drop out,” said Paul Bixby, the commissioner of the California Department of Education, who has directed education funding for the past 20 years. “We’re helping all those children.”
But the impact of the school lottery on public schools has been a mixed bag. It has made schools in some urban areas, such as San Diego, more affordable and accessible, while in others, such as Los Angeles, it has created a class of private schools that students from low-income families with no opportunity for a public school education can attend.
The first program had an annual limit of $125 million — enough to keep around half of public schools from being closed altogether, but the money never panned out.
In the program’s second year, about $4.2 billion was set aside to