, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 89-105

Do public schools have a future? A case study of retrenchment and its implications

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The present paper describes a model for predicting the consequences of reduced funding for public education and a case study designed as an initial test of the validity of the model. The case study highlights an inner-city high school in San Jose, California, during the aftermath of Proposition 13. As a result of the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, severe limitations were placed on the ability of school districts in California to generate revenues from property taxes. San Jose High School was forced to cut programs and personnel. The impact of these cuts on the capacity of the school to serve its urban clients is investigated. Findings from the case study support the model's prediction that budget cuts in public education are more likely to exert a negative impact on disadvantaged students than on students from middle-class homes. Implications of further cuts in public education in general are discussed in the concluding section of the paper.