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California Schools--A Snapshot

Prologue to A Blueprint for Great Schools Version 2.0.

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California's rich cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity has always been its strength, providing the talent, drive, and creativity to preserve and enhance our state's leadership in high technology, entertainment, agriculture, and so many other fields.

California's student population reflects our diversity, according to the latest statistics, which cover the 2014–15 school year. Fifty-three percent of California's 6.2 million students are Latino, 25 percent are white, 8.7 percent are Asian, and 6.1 percent are African American. In addition, 58 percent, or about 3.6 million students, qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

About 23 percent of students are English learners, a total of 1.4 million students. More than 60 languages are spoken, with Spanish by far the most prevalent (84 percent), followed by Vietnamese (2.3 percent), Tagalog (1.5 percent), Cantonese (1.4 percent), and Hmong (1 percent).

California students attend 10,366 schools and 1,125 charter schools in about 1,000 school districts. In 2014, California's high school graduation rate reached a record high of 80.8 percent, up from 74.7 in 2010.

Unfortunately, California's school funding continues to lag. The latest annual state ranking by Education Week placed California 46th in the nation in school spending, but it was based on data from 2011–12. California's expanding state budget for 2015–16 has certainly increased our ranking, though California is still likely to remain in the bottom half of the nation.

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Questions:   Dina Fong | | 916-319-0551
Last Reviewed: Monday, February 8, 2021