For a number of years, UCLA IDEA has produced annual reports on the learning environments and outcomes of California schools. IDEA, short for UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, was founded in 2000 by Jeannie Oakes and John Rogers. According to the organization's website, the original goal of IDEA was to utilize the research capacity of UCLA to identify and confront some of the most pressing issues facing the world of education today. The faculty of IDEA consists of scholars, staff and graduate students of UCLA, who partner with parents, teachers, and others in the community to conduct research on current educational trends in the hope of inspiring and promoting positive change.
- Due to less money to spend, California schools have been forced to cut back time, attention and quality programs, which has directly impacted student engagement, completion rates, and college enrollment.
- As budgets are decreasing and more parents are spending money on programs and educational opportunities, the disparity is growing across and within schools.
- School reform has nearly slowed to a halt because there is no money in the budget for professional development and staff have been significantly cut back.
- Public schools across the state face growing demands from families who are experiencing economic distress.
- Despite studies that indicate longer school days, years and summer programs offer significant benefits, most California principals have been forced to cut back rather than offer more. Nearly half have reduced the school year, and more than half have cut out summer programs entirely.
- Tools like calculators and measuring instruments are at a premium, and parents are being asked to pay to help cover the cost of these items.
- Schools in higher-income areas tend to offer more programs and opportunities than poor schools because parents are able to chip in more to provide those opportunities. The report found that schools with a predominance of low-income families raise one dollar for every $20 raised by schools with fewer low-income families.
- Schools with fewer low-income families are more willing to charge those families for additional services like extra-curricular activities and field trips, while schools with more poor families are not willing to ask families to contribute when they are barely paying the mortgage and putting food on the table.