Essential Learning Conditions for California Youth: Educational Facilities
Ortiz begins with research showing that safe, healthy, and uncrowded school facilities are a basic ingredient of a good educational program. When teachers work in well-designed and highly functional school buildings, they are able to be more effective than when they must teach in inadequate facilities. Ortiz sets these findings against the evidence that a high proportion of California’s educational facilities are inadequate because they are crowded, old, and in need of repair and modernization. She finds that pressures from increased enrollment in the state due to demographic changes and class size reduction, an average age of the state’s school buildings of over 25 years, and the high cost of facilities have all contributed to the current inadequacies. However, the State’s responses to the many problems with educational facilities have been severely limited by flaws in policies establishing the state’s relationships with local districts with regard to funding, inventory, and oversight of educational facilities. The State has failed to establish a system of state financing to ensure that funds are available to and used by districts with schools in the poorest conditions. It has failed to promulgate minimum standards for school facility conditions and maintenance, develop systematic ways of monitoring conditions in schools throughout the state, or maintain effective investigation and correction processes when serious deficiencies are reported.