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ED 222 588 





UD 022 527 

Rubin, Victor; And Others 

Children's Out-of -School Services and the Urban 

Fiscal Crisis. 

California Univ., Berkeley. 

National Inst, tff Education (ED), Washington, DC. 
Nov 80 

G-80-0004 * 

186p.; A publication of the School of Law, Children s 

Time Study. Some tables marginally legible. 

MF01/PC08 Plus Postage. 

♦Children; City Government; ♦Community Services; 
♦Cultural Activities; Economic Factors; Equal 
Facilities; Family Characteristics; *Financial 
Problems; Libraries; Local Government; Museums; 
Policy Formation; Political Influences; Recreational 
Facilities; *Recreati,on Finances; Summer Schools; 
Urban Areas; Urban Problems 

♦California; *Propcsition 13 (California 1978); Time 


The impact of urban financial ciises on the provision 
of recreational and cultural services for children, primarily by 
local governments, is explored. Emphasis is on the effects upon 
California's children's services of Proposition 13, a tax relief 
initiative limiting property taxes in that State. Data from an 
Oakland, California, surveyors presented to provide background on 
the characteristics of children who use such services as parks, 
museums, libraries, and zoos, and on the frequency of service use. 
This is followed by a description of the political and economic 
contexts of services provision, including decision making processes 
and financial considerations. It is emphasized that, wh^e public 
support of Proposition 13 was not a mandate to reduce or eliminate 
children's services, the resulting reduction in government revenues 
had that adverse effect. County and local government responses to the 
need for austerity in a period of financial crisis (such as closing 
of service site, staff reductions, user fees, and private 
sponsorship), and the inadequate consequences of these responses for 
different children, are described. In conclusion, the future of 
children's services is considered. (Author/MJL) 


* Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made * 

* from the original document. 





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Vic-rojZ- Ru.G>mJ 






Victor Rubin and Elliott A. Medrich 


Hedva Lewittes and Mary Berg 

A Report to the U. S. National Institute of Education 
(Grant No. OENIEG800004) 

^ Children's Time Study 

^ School of Law 

lT> University of California 

Berkeley, Ca. 9^720 


November, 1980 



Chapter I 

Children's Out-of-School Services in 
an Era of Uncertainty • 

Chapter II 

The Clients: Who are the Users of Out- 
of-School Services 

Chapter III 

Urban Fiscal Strains and Children's 

Chapter IV 

Children's Services Under Fire: The 
Struggle for Survival after 
Proposition 13 

Chapter V 

Children's Out-of-School Services and the 
Fiscal Crisis: Present Circumstance 
and Perspectives on the Future 

Appendix A 

Appendix B 
Appendix C 

Summer School in the Wake of Proposition 
13: Ancillary Educational Services 
Under Fire 

Children's Time Study: Setting, Sample, 

Source Material for the Analysis of 
Proposition 13 Impacts 



/ 1 


In Paul Goodman's remarkable retelling of the Horatio Alger 
myth an advocate of experiential learning intones: 

What we want for you, boy, is a life worth living, 
and that's Culture, that's Education .. .What we 
want to give you, boy, is the Habit of Freedom. 

The streetwise truant remains skeptical, however: 

First you say, no school! Grand! Then you say 
there'll be a leader draggin' me around. Not 
so grand. Then you say we don't get life but 
a selection of life. So you have a school 
after all! I seen 'em walkin 1 along the street 
two by two on the way to the Aquarium! . . . 
Include me out! Freedom is freedom - you 
don't have to teach me no freedom! 1 

Young Horatio has grasped the most basic dilemma of out-of- 

school life — its simple pleasures are too important to be left 

in the hands of children. Since some very important lessons 

are learned outside school, children need to be "given" the proper 

"selection of life." Toward this end, over time many recreational 

and cultural activities directed at children have become a social 

responsibility . 

Romantic notions of children's autonomy may be appealing, but 
in contrast the creation, planning and budgeting of\recreational 
and cultural activities is a complex business. Within the public 
sector it is an activity done not only in the name of children, 
but for society as a whole, and our commitment to providing these 
opportunities" has been substantial . Yet, nearly a-century after 
their inception, the providing institutions are in a precarious, 
marginal postition. Today, the urban parks, recreation departments, 



^ 4 


libraries, museums and other facilities which serve children are 
in a predicament with potentially devastating consequences. They 
must contend with both a crisis of resources and a crisis of pur- 
pose. This is a study of how they are managing and what is at 
stake for children. 

In this monograph, we are concerned with a whole range of 
services and programs that have, over time, developed pro-educa- 
tional agendas—agendas which either directly or indirectly 
complement traditional school activities. The linkage may be 
ambiguous but those who, provide these out-of-school services 
are often quick to justify them as learning experiences, enrich- 
ing or supplementing the school curriculum. One 

salient difference, of course, is that children use these facil- 
ities and services voluntarily and even those who participate 
do not "learn" the same structured lessons that the schools are 
expected to provide. ^ 

This informality makes it difficult to measure the precise 
impact of these services on the educational achievement of young 
people, but their relationship to issues of learning and develop- 
ment has always been prominent. The vagaries of mandate and pur- 
pose are reflected in the history of out-of-school, publicly pro- 
vided services for children. At times they have been in the vanguard 
of social change in the inner city, and at other times they have 
been the most concrete symbol of the child-centered suburban 
"good life." They have served as a safety valve for social control 
of aliented, unemployed youth, and they have also been the emmis- 
saries of "high culture" to the "masses." 



There have been periods when these institutions seemed to 
lose their basic purpose, only to gain a new role as conditions 
changed. They have periodically been financially strapped, only 
: * to find new funding, sometimes from highly unlikely sources. 
Crises are certainly nothing new. But what we see as unique 
today is the convergence of a critical shortage of fiscal 
resources with an unprecedented level of conflict about the 
proper ways to provide these kinds of services for children. The two 
issues are intertwined, of course. Sometimes issues of program 
purpose and effectiveness are cited as a reason to reduce fund- 
ing for children's services. $ In other cases revenue shortages 
force programming reforms aside in a single-minded push for fiscal 
survival. Both crises must be confronted however, for neither 
will soon recede. The impetus for changes in programming comes 
from shifts in socio-cultural values, family c structure , 

leisure, sex roles, and other basic life patterns. The resource 
scarcity is a function of the broader fiscal crisis of the public 
sector. This heavy agenda of structural problems, and the crisis- 
management ambience which envelops many urban institutions, sug- 
gest that there is something more than fun and games at stake. 
The Search for Legitimacy 

Throughout their history cultural and recreational services 
have struggled to be taken seriously. That this battle has not 
been won can be clearly seen in countless recent confrontations 
over municipal budgets. The most frequently voiced sentiments 
have been: that these "quality of life 1 ' programs do not compare 

< 6 

• 1-4 

in importance to the "essential city functions" such as police 
and fire protection; and that the non-essential services, if 
they continue to exist at all, should make greater use of volun- 
teers rather than trained professionals. These two arguments 
threaten ±he core of legitimacy of cultural and recreational 
institutions. The strength of their position largely depends 
on two beliefs: that they perform valuable social, educational 
and economic functions; and that they require skilled, profes- 
sional, paid staff in order to operate properly. 

The quest to overcome marginal status within local govern- 
ment has been continual since the advent of municipal systems 
for recreation and culture at the turn of the century. The 
services had their origins in philanthropic efforts directed 
toward urban immigrants and their children/ These sand gardens, 
community centers and reading rooms were seen as vehicles that 
could help children assimilate mainstream American culture, 

including leisure behavior. Many of the services were intended 
expressly to address the needs of children from broken homes, 
or to offer refuge from the "squalor" of tenement life. However 
effective the programs may or may not have been, they were gen- 
erally recognized as necessary and essential. By 1920, social 
reformers and budding professions had succeeded in turning largely 
privately funded programs into local public responsibilities, 
The assumption of public Control was the successful conclusion 
of the first "marginality crisis." 

1 7 


The new cultural and recreational services carved out a 
niche in the sphere of social reproduction, roughly between the 
school and the family. Like the school, they were a form of col- 
lective consumption. No working-class families in the early 
twentieth century could have 7 individually provided their chil- 
dren with the facilities and opportunities offered by the new 
programs. Also like schools, they were thought to be merit 
goods, whose benefits were -shared not- only by clients-but by 
society in general. 

On the other hand, the service providers fought hard to 
distinguish themselves from the schools in many respects . One 
prime difference was the absence of compulsory attendance at 
cultural and recreational institutions. No child would be "forced" 
into a library or community center. Related to this was the 
notion that in these voluntary settings children could develop 
their individual potentials, away from the homogenizing drudgery 
of the classroom. At their best, librarians and recreation 
leaders could enliven books, sports or crafts for students 
who were turned off by their school's homework, physical educa- 
tion or shop class (or who had dropped out of school altogether) . 
The sometimes cordial, sometimes testy rivalry among services 
for the attention of children has been a constant theme in -this 
history and is today as relevant as ever. 

The relationship of the new services to families entailed 
much more than the above-mentioned aspect of collective facili- 
ties. Most early recreation workers were essentially social 

ERIC ^ 8 

workers for whom helping families was a basic- mission. Sometimes 
this meant removing the children from the hoi£e as much as pes- 
sible, both to relieve the pressure of overcrowded tenements 
and "to inculcate vaj-ues which were assumed to be lacking at home. 
-There were also other therapeutic approaches, however, which 
encouraged families to recreate together in the community center 
or park. And of course, many of the new centers, especially the 
settlement houses fostered the solidarity ©f neighbors. 

There were several ideological strands within recreation, as 
within all the helping professions, and some were more respect- 
ful of the working-class family than others. 

In the last several decades service providers have employed 
some highly .resourceful strategies- to overcome successive margin- 
ality crises. These strategies have included courting new con- 
stituencies and client groups; developing a social service exper- 
tise (by providing compensatory education or therapy) ; establish- 
ing channels for financial assistance from higher levels of govern- 
ment; and redefining the boundary between public recreation and 
private amusements. At present all four of these strategies ^ 
can readily be observed. Throughout this monograph we will 
examine these strategies in historical context and in the situa- 
tions where they are currently being pursued. 
Children as Clients 

In most of the services considered in this .study children 
are often the most numerous, but not the only clients. The 
children's component of each recreational and cultural institution 
operates -within two political frames of reference: that of the 

" : 9 

,v • . 1-7 

service (e.g. libraries, museums) 5 and that 'conponent of the service 
pertinent to children's status. It is worth noting briefly three 
-aspects of the politics of children's services which bear directly 
on the issues that analysed in this study. ^ 

1. First, children have little or no voice in the creation 
or administration of most programs: The concept of the "best 
interests of the child" is generally predicated on the assumption 
tha't adults will be determining and defining the scope of activ- 
ities. This is self-evident or unavoidable in many contexts, of 
course, and debate consequently revolves around which adults are 
to exercise their judgment (parents, judges, psychologists, social 
workers,, teachers, etc.). In the realm of recreation and culture, 
however, children's rights are problematic in several respects. Sane 
have argued that the very concept of play — the most visible form that ■ 
'some of these activities take, regardless of more subtle 
developmental agendas-- should involve minimal • adult 
interference. "The "right to be left alone" is thus important, and 
its limits are continually tested in playground design, art instruc- 
tion, library rules and any number of other situations. 

Even so, in most cases children are planned for, argued over 
and manipulated much more often than they are consult^ for their 
opinion about the design or the management of programs. There , 
are youth councils of various kinds, and occasional surveys, but 
they are not viewed as powerful or influential decision-making 
centers. The most effective statements children can make about 
programs and facilities are to "vote with their feet," either by 



participating or staying away , The essentially volu||ary. nature 

of the domain makes this possible and distinguishes it from com- 

pulsory services such as schools. 

It has been argued that children's, services are comparatively 

disadvantaged because, unlike many other services, the primary 
clients cannot take part in the political process. The increas- , 
ing involvement (and manipulation) of children "and teenagers 
in demonstrations to defend programs may be a sign that some 
people are trying to overcome that weakness. 

2 A second aspect of children's service politics is that, 
in the broadest sense, children go in and out of fashion. The 
readiness- with which taxpayers or legislators will vote for 

increased spending or new programs in education, recreation, 


health and other services fluctuates in accordance with demo- 
graphic, economic and social factors. While this is difficult 
to understand and explain, the phenomenon can be 'clearly seen 
in indices ranging- from the fate of .school bond elections to the 
proliferation of adults-only housing developments. The general 
consensus seems to be that the later 1970 's represent a downward 
stage of the cycle for children's interests, contrasted (often 
in the false light of nostalgia) with the child-centered 1950's. 
The generally unsympathetic climate for children 
. is partly a function of their reduced numbers at 

the present time.. This is due largely to a decline in the number 
of children born' to each woman, a-nd an increase in mothers 
ages at the birth of their first child. The "shortage" of 


children is not. permanent, and the next upswing is expected 
around 1985-1990. 

The demographic shift has led to the closing of schools 
in many communities and a decline in the demand for certain 
other children's services. Concurrently there is increasing 
resistance by non-parents to supporting these services through 
taxes, and' a growing age-segregation -in many housing markets. 
In some cities it has been documented that more than half the 

rental housing is barred to families with children even as home _ 

0 " 2 

ownership becomes unfeasible for more -young families. The 

result is a metropolitan landscape dotted with emergent "life-^ 
^ cycle ghettos.," much more strongly delimited than in the past. 

The concept of a society unsympathetic to children also 
touches deep-seated cultural frustrations. The inadequat| 
performance of schools and other services, the persistence of 
stagflation, and a-, general economic and social" malaise all seem 
to be telling parents that hard work will no longer ensure a 
better future for their offspring. We are treading on tricky, . 
very subjective terrain here, and only wish to suggest that 
what popular sociology has dubbed "the end of the American Dream- 
is a force to be reckoned with. 

3. A third general quality of children's services is that 
they frequently' endow those who work in them with second-class 
professional status. .Children's librarians, recreation supervisors, 
museum personnel and others all consistently report that many 
financial and promotional rewards of their professions and agencies 


Ac - 12 


are denied them, at least partly because they work with children 
rather than adults. - ^ 

The majority of people- who serve young children are women, 
including 99 percent of children's librarians and 82 percent 
of elementary school teachers. Yet the proportions of women in 
management and administrative positions \are very low, and in some 
cases (including school superintendences) actually declining. 

While many of the sex role , stereotypes within the human services 


professions are being broken, progress has been slow. Many 
professionals feel that there is an additional increment of 
discrimination which is specifically directed at those who work 
with young people. 

The services we are concerned with here have never been pro- 
vided equally to all American children, nor have they often 
achieved the standards of equity laid down by the professions or 
the courts. The issues surrounding the equitable provision of 
cultural and recreational services have their own peculiar history 
.and logic. While in some respects the situation is analogous to 
•that of public schools, there are crucial legal and empirical 
differences. The issue of who gets what, and at what cost, is 
central to our inquiry. Though the services as a whole may be 
in crisis, the effects will be felt very differently in the cities 
and suburbs, and in rich and poor neighborhoods within cities. 
Race, sex, income, family structure and other characteristics 
of a child's "life circumstance" play an important role in deter- 
mining .his or her opportunities. 

r i 


Attempts to measure the quality of municipal recreational 
and library services have usually focused on their inputs — the 
resources which are allocated. The most important input is, 
of course, money, and measures of operating expenditures per 
capita (or per child) are commonly employed. Unequal expendi- 
tures have often been challenged in the courts when a class of 
discriminated persons can be identified. As a consequence of 
many court decisions, on constitutional grounds it has been 
easier to show discrimination against racial groups than economic 
classes, age groups, or other categories of possibly underserved 

. 4 
people . 

Other things commonly measured to determine service qual- 
ity are facilities and capital stock — library books and films,, 
park acreage, number' of tennis courts, and so on. Professional 
associations and planning agencies are continually revising their 


standards of per capita "requirements" for capital equipment and 
land, but the levels in most inner cities and many suburbs have 
always been consistently well below these targets. This, of 
course, raises the question of how useful standards of this sort 
really are. 

In recent years an increasing number of performance criteria 
and output, or "outcome" measures have been developed for 
municipal services. Program budgeting, survey research and a 
variety of other management tools have been brought to bear on 
recreation and cultural services, as a way of finding out who 



actually uses the services, whether they are ccst-ef f ective , 
and whether they seem to be having an impact on the clients. 
These findings sometimes conflict with the results of studies of 
inputs. 5 A broad disparity in per capita operating budgets 
between two library systems may not be matched by broad disparities 
in attendance or circulation. Conversely, different districts 
can spend identical amounts on a service and achieve vastly dif- 
ferent results. Inequality of service outcomes does not currently 
have the legal standing that inequality of inputs has achieved-- 
only the latter convincingly qualifies as unequal treatment under 
the law. However, with each passing year there is a greater social 
pressure for the recognition of outcomes. The Children's Time 
Study, from which some of the data reported in this study is 
taken, is a prototype for a certain way of measuring the impact 
of children's recreational and cultural services. Time Study 
data is especially relevant to the study of out-of -school publicly 
provided services because it contains extensive information about 
family time structures. One consequence of sustained budget cut- 
backs is greater dependence on parents, especially mothers, to 
facilitate their children's participation in out-of-school programs 
Parents are differentially equipped with time, money, transporta- 
tion, -and other resources to handle these tasks. "Privatization" 
of this sort is already a source of increased inequality in 
post-Proposition 13 California. 





Aside from the question of resources, we, are concerned 
with the types of programs offered to children. Recreation has 
a long history of ethnic and sexual stereotyping and segrega- 
tion. For decades, libraries and museums offered only the 
cultural artifacts of mainstream white, middle class America. 
The pluralistic explosion in all of these institutions in the 
1960's and 70' s is one of the truly significant changes in their 
'history. The changes encompassed not only content but also the 
forms of service delivery and the composition of the w©rk force. 
Even as these innovations were beginning to make a measurable 
impact, they were starting to fall in the wake of budget cutbacks. 

In this monograph we will discuss service disparities in a 
wide variety of contexts, using a number of different indicators. 
We will compare neighborhoods within the same city, and different 
cities within the sane county or state. We will compare the 
experiences of blacks and whites, boys and girls, affluent and 
poor children. As we shall see, for the more poorly served 
communities and individuals the "era of limits" began years 
•before the current tax revolt and recession. 

In this chapter we have provided synopses of four general 
themes which dominate this account of recreational and cultural 
services for children. These include: 

- the convergence of prolonged fiscal crisis and a crisis 
of basic purposes and principles. 

- the continuing efforts of the services to overcome 
marginality and gain legitimacy as professions and 
government functions. 

- the special circumstances and vulnerability of programs 
for children. 

- the changing but persistent inequalities in the distribu- 
te . tion of program costs and benefits. 



We will elaborate each of these themes in this study, focus- 
ing in particular detail on the fiscal dilemma that has so dras- 
tically altered the circumstances and conditions under which 
California municipalities provide children's out-of -school recrea- 
tional and cultural services. 

The primary focus of this analysis is publicly sponsored 
recreational and cultural services for children . However , to cover 
the subject adequately we must explore some related topics. 
Following are five kinds of distinctions that will affect our 
inquiry . 

1. Public and Private Services 

The problems of private youth-serving agencies are closely 
related to the fate of local government. In many respects the 
two sectors complement each other, but in certain situations they 
directly compete for resources and clients. As already mentioned, 
the initial impetus for many programs came from private, non- 
profit organizations started during the Progressive Era. In 
some circumstances foundations today still provide "seed money" 
to underwrite innovative programs. More common these days, 
however, is the private agency whose dependence on government 
subsidies and job training funds eclipses its philanthropic 
support. When this happens, the sharp line between private 
and public services is blurred. This takes on special importance 
in light of massive public service cutbacks. Some private agencies 



have been overwhelmed by a rush of too many new clients, while 
others have aggressively recruited new program participants from 
the diminished public sector. Furthermore, from our own research 
it was clear that most preadolescent children did not know whether 
the sponsors of programs they used were public or private. 
Consequently, at various points we shall mention quasi-public 
and- private service agencies, including YM-YWCA, Scouts and others. 
Commercial leisure activities are also of some interest, especially 
in terms of their relationship to the public sector. 
2. Local, State and Federal Funding for Childre n's Services 

Our primary interest is locally administered and funded 
institutions. It is important, however, to note the small but 
growing role of the state and federal government in the field of 
urban recreation and culture. This support has taken the form of 
grants to localities for development of facilities (e.g. acquisi- 
tion of parkland, construction of libraries), and support of the 
arts, of which a sizeable component is directed toward children. 

A second kind of higher level governmental involvment in the •> 
provision of children's services may result from the "tax revolt." 
The replacement of local property taxes with state level funding 
may lead, some say inevitably, to greater state control of munici- 
pal institutions. 

In California, there has been no such administrative 
shift in the first two years since the passage of Proposition 13, 
even though the state's financial contributions have greatly 
increased. This lack of change may be only because few long-range 
plans have been implemented as yet. 



3. Distinctions Among Types of Services 

There are important differences in the structures, tradi- 
tions, political bases and basic missions of recreational and 
cultural service institutions. We do not intend to underplay x 
■ these differences, and in fact they are a key element of the 

analysis . _ .. . 

Longstanding rifts such as between public and school librarians ; 
between parks and recreation administrators; or between physical educators and 
Little League coaches reflect different priorities within the com- 
munity of children's service providers. These differences range 
from ideological disputes about the most effective environment 
for informal education, to comparisons N of the cost/benefit ratios 
of various modes of service delivery. 

However significant the characteristics of individual 
services may be, their cumulative impact on children, and their 
collective future, are the more basic issues. We hope, in fact, 
that one result of our work will be greater mutual awareness of 

common problems among the people working in these services. 

\ > 

4. Services for Children in the ConteXt of Services for the 
General Population ~ \ 

To understand the status of services to children within 
an institution which serves clients of all ages, it is necessary 
x to study that institution's overall structure. Libraries, museums, 
and recreation. departments provide services for several specific 
age groups, in addition to their general offerings. Sometimes 
age-specific services grow and decline according to the latest 
pedagogical fad, or the latest budget cuts. (Library programs 
for "young adults," for instance, seem to be a recent casualty.) 

ERIC 19 


In this report we will examine the ways in which the bureaucracies' 
overall budget and operations affect their programs for children. * 
The other side of the story, whereby children serve to attract 
resources and legitimacy that enhance an agency's overall standing,. 

will also be explored. 

A clarification is in order concerning our flexible use 
"of~the wo"rd ""children. " "in some cases we are referring to 
All minors served by an agency. But where specific life cycle 
references are intended, we will endeavor to be clear. Adoles- 
cents, toddlers and pre-adolescent school-age children are dis- - — 

tinct groups, of course, with some very different needs. The 
last group, pre-adolescents , receive the most attention in this 
' monograph, because they were the subjects of our field research On the 
other hand, many of the service providers _who were interviewed for this study 

addressed issues faced by young people at all stages of development. 
5 . California versus the Nation — 

Most of the contemporary* evidence in this report comes 
from municipalities in California. Almost all of the primary 

source material (interviews and surveys) were collected in the ' 
San Francisco Bay Area. However, the basic issues and the 
results obtained are not only relevant in California. As we shall note, 
with regard to children's services, the conditions described are basically similar in state 
throughout the country. The services and their corresponding 
professions have many common practices and operating styles. 
The structure of local government varies among cities, of course, 
but much of that variation is found within 

„ . . j- 6 Many cities 

California. J 



.X . . 


elsewhere have seen their budgets strained to the same point as 
Oakland or San Francisco circa 1979, for other reasons but to 
much the same effect. It is clearly a national phenomena. 

Where unique circumstances appear to be a pre- 
vailing influence on children's services, we will so note and 
explain. However, rt is our hope that the information and 
analysis in this report will be useful to people throughout the 
country who are concerned with the future of cultural and recrea- 
tional services. 


This monograph is based largely on four types of data 
'about children's services. These will be introduced briefly here, 
with the technical details reserved for appendices. 
interviews with Service Providers 

During the past three years interviews have been conducted 
with scores of professionals who work in parks and recreation 
departments, libraries and museums. Our subjects ranged from 
entry level children's librarians to the chief city librarians, 
and from play leaders to . directors of parks and recreation 

departments. There is a cross section of age and ethnicity among 
\he men and women to whom we talked, and they represent a broad 
rangKof experiences in child-serving agencies. . Most of the 
respondents were employed in the cities of Oakland and San 
Francisco, or in the suburban communities of Alameda and Contra 


Costa Counties. 



Also interviewed were the ' members of city managers' or 

mayors' offices who' had responsibility for preparing the budgets 
for cultural and recreational service agencies. In addition, we 
spoke with leaders and rank-and-file activists within the unions 
representing workers in the various municipal and county agencies. 

Several interviews were also conducted with faculty members 
of Bay Area universities who taught training programs in librarian- 
ship and recreation. 

Interviews covered a wide range of topics. The 

questionnaires were varied to suit the role of the particular 
subject, but most respondents in each round of interviews commented 
on a comparable set of issues. The earlier, round, in 1977 and 
1978, focused on the subjects' perception of their work; their 
relationships as service providers with children and parents, with their profession, 
and with the organizational environment. Respondents 

were also encouraged to describe their motivations for entering 
the field, their sense of how children's services have changed during the course 
of their prof essional -'lives and what the future holds. 

The second round of interviews, conducted in the Spring 
of 1979, was directed at exploring the fiscal crisis precipitated- 
by California's Proposition 13. The interviews offered a detailed 
look at. the budgeting and decisionmaking process of urban public 
bureaucracies. The consequences for children of California's 
tax rebellion emerged clearly as those people close to the 
decisions described the outcomes. 

ERIC 22 



In almost every instance we were given excellent coopera- 
tion by our subjects. The' general tone of their responses was 
satisfaction that "outsiders" were interested in their work. 
The fact that we did not pose as advocates of their existing pro- 
grams did little to diminish most subjects' belief that more 
public dialogue could only help their situation. 

2. The Children's Time Study 

The Children's Time Study research project, of which this 

monograph is one product, undertook various studies exploring 

7 • / 

children's use of discretionary time. Time spent outside of 

school represents a large and important component of children's 
lives about which relatively little is known. The Children's Time 
Study developed a new approach to measuring and analysing five 
"domains" of discretionary time use—television viewing, partici- 
pation in organized activities; chores and jobs;- free play and 
parent-child time use together; and school achievem-nt. 

The principal instruments of the Time Study was a survey 
conducted in 1976 i Children from the sixth grade of Oakland's 
public schools were interviewed in their homes by a trained sur- 
vey researcher and, at the same time, a parent completed a self- 
administered questionnaire in a separate room,. The Study involved 
764 families and featured a cross-section of the city's public 
school enrollment. Appendix B describes the survey sample charac- . 
teristics. * 





The survey has 'extensive information about children's use of 
publicly provided services: parks, recreation centers, schoolyards, 
libraries and other neighborhood-based facilities. It contains 
accoifhts of each -child respondents' visits to community-wide cultural 
facilities, museums and regional parks. The data on the social 
and economic background of the -children are also extensive, permit- 
ting detailed analysis of the use of facilities by various types 
of children. There is also data on parents' attitudes about the 

"~ ~~ — ______ it 

quality of services and their importance to- children. Finally, 
information from other studies of Oakland's public services has 
been brought to bear on the Time Study data, to see if the avail- 
ability of programs, facilities and services is a major determinant 
of children's time use patterns,. 
Publications on the Tax Revolt 

While local taxes and what they pay for have -long been a sub- 
ject of general concern, the last two years in California have been 
a quantum leap in research in the field. Even a partial listing 
of the sponsors of research on "the effects of Proposition 13" shows 
the broad range of constituents which include, among others, the 
National Association of Social Workers (California Chapter) , the 
Urban League, the California State Library, the Children's Rights 
Group, 4 the California State Department of Finance, the Institute 
for Governmental Studies and the California Commission on Govern- 
ment Reform. There are. even several new publications, such as the 
Tax Revolt Digest, aimed at keeping up with the escalating information 




v 1-22 

flow. In preparing this report we have reviewed this great range 
of studies and evaluations. In addition, we have analyzed* many 
hundreds of 'newspaper accounts describing the fate of children's 
services in cities across California. 
Professional Literatures 

Each of the services examined here has been the subject of 
extensive research about its history, principles and practices. ^ 
The histories range frhm uncritical "in 7 house" chronicles to 
skeptical revisionist analyses of the social role of these urban 
institutions. For our somewhat eclectic mission, the entire range 
of material has been useful to us. Similarly, although textbooks 
and evaluations of the state of the art in recreation or librarian- 
ship tend to quickly become dated, they too proved to be useful 
indicators of the conventional wisdom within these professions on 
matters of planning for children. There is also a con-, 

siderable recent literature on innovative approaches to the delivery 
of children's services. The new writing, especially in recreation, 
reflects the influences of sophisticated quantitative management 
techniques,on the one hand, and humanistic psychology and philosophy 
on the other. 

Worthy of special mention here is the long tradition of empiri- 
cal research on the use of neighborhood facilities. Since the 
community studies of the 1920' s, sociological methods have been 
applied to the questions of who uses recreation, libraries and 
other leisure services. The marriage of urban social analysis to 

public policy is not always fruitful, but there have been some 


valuable contributions through the years. 


ERJC , 2 





We focus here on the fiscal condition of publicly provided 
cultural and recreational services for children. To begin with, 
however, it is necessary to locate the place, of these activities 
iir children's daily lives. In other words, before trying to under- 
stand how contemporary trends in local government finance are 
affecting children's out-of-schocl services, it is important to 
' ' ' know about the constituency for these services and the range of need 
needs that they appear to fulfill. 

With this as background, sections IIP and IV examine the cur- 
rent fiscal environment of local government and the particular 
service's in question. After describing some of the factors affect- "j 
ing the provision of human services by local government generally, 
we will focus directly on children's services — exploring the process 
of decisionmaking within children's programs, between competing 
agenices, and among different levels of government. Here we shall 
confront California's Proposition 13 and examine its particular 
impact on services for young people. 

Section V reflects on our findings and considers the ways 
in which Porposition 13 is changing the provision of children's serv- 
ices in Caiifornia. The changes seem to be taking place at three 
levels: immediate, often unplanned response to budget "shortfalls ; 
structural reorganization of the service delivery systems; tna a ^ 
reformulation of the fundamental boundary , between public and private 
spheres of childrear ing . In other words, the current debate, 
' which this report can hopeuflly inform, is not only about what the 
services can do for children in the future, but what they should do. 


In Appendix A we present an account of the impressive growth 
and abrupt decline of summer school in California. Significant 
differences in financial and administrative contexts required us 
to separate summer school from the other services being reviewed. 
Nonetheless, as the most prominent early victim of Proposition 13, 
summer school is a prime example of the tenuous position of 
programs intended to enhance children's educational experience. 

ERIC ■ 27 

Chapter One 

Paul Goodman, The Empire City (New York: Bobbs-Merrill , 
, - 1942) p. 122. 

Dora J. Ashford and Per la Eston, The Ex tent and Effects 
of Discrimination against Children in Rental Housing 
A Study of Ffve California Cities (Santa Monica: 
The Fair Housing Project, 1979). 

Accounts of recent efforts to combat sexism in library 
work can be found in publications of Women Library 
Workers (Berkeley, Ca.): WLW Journal and SHARE 
A Directory of Feminist Library Workers (Second 
Edition, 197b). 

The most noteworthy "service equalization" case is 
Hawkins v. Town of Shaw : 437 F.2d 1286 (5th Cir. 
1971). For a good review of the issues see 
Robert Lineberry, "Mandating Urban Equality: The 
Distribution of Municipal Public Services," Texas 
Law Review , 53=26, 1974). 

Frank Levy, Arnold J. Meltsner, Aaron Wildavsky, 
Urban Outcomes : Schools , Libraries and Streets 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974 ) . 

Library and recreation services are provided by cities, 
counties, special districts and school districts. 
Cities vary in their charters and forms of govern- 
ment, some' with professional city managers and others 
with strong mayor systems. 

See Appendix B for a description of the Time Study 
Survey. For an extended analysis, see Elliott 
Medrich, Judith Roizen, Victor Rubin and Stuart- 
■Buckley, The Serious Business of" Growing Up: 
A Study of Children's Lives Outside of School 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 
forthcoming, 198l)'. 

See, for a broad range of -modern techniques, James F. 
"Murphy and Dennis R.' Howard, Delivery of Community 
Leisure Services: An Holistic Approach , (Philadelphia : 
Lea and Febiger, 1977)- 



Robert S. and Helen M. Lynd, Mlddletown (New York: 
Harcourt Brace, 1929); R. Havighurst, Growing; 
Up in River City (New York: John Wiley, 1962); 
and Celia» B. Stendler, Children of Brasstown 
(Urbana, University of Illinois, 19*19) are 
useful in this respect. 




This monograph focuses on a variety of out-of -school activi- 
ties and programs for children, many of which have "educational" 
or (in the traditional sense) "pro-educational" agendas. It is 
not possible to know with certainty the degree to which these 
activities affect in-school achievement. However, there is 
little doubt that they contribute to children's development and 
well being and that they are part of the important link between 
out-of-school life, in-school learning and school performance. 

To understand the argument we will develop in this monograph it is first 
important to know how these various out-of ^school activities fit 
into the lives of children. Using data from our Oakland survey 
of children v/e begin by locating these activities within children's 
activity patterns. This provides a backdrop for the assessment of 
how. the eroding fiscal condition of the providing agencies 

may be affecting children. 

' In this report we shall focus on services and facilities 
provided by public agencies and intended for use by pre-adolescents , 
(tholugh not "necessarily exclusively by them) . We must distinguish between 


types] of activities and be aware of the locus of program provision. "Facilities" 
and "programs" represent two distinct categories of children's out-of-school serv- 
ices! f ° rme ^ settings ( e * g# a school Y ard or a P ark ) * th ^ 
latter are activities , ' organized and structured in varying degrees 
(e.g. sports, music, dance), - These categories are not necessarily mutually 
exclusive. All programs, for instance, are provided at facilities. 
But fo|r our purposes we characterize a park as a facility (for it 
tends to be a place children go to play on their own) , and a recreation 
center i as^ a program (for children who go tend to make use of the organ- 


ized activities it provides).. The two loci of services considered 

here are "neighborhood" and "city/region." The former represent 

decentralized opportunities, close to home, often intended to 

maximize access for children. Schoolyards and branch libraries 

are prominent examples. The latter demand larger "catchment areas" 

to generate a user population, hence they are typically limited to 
relatively few citywide or regional locations. A zoo or an aquarium 

fall into this category. Here we shall distinguish neigh- 
borhood level facilities uch as schoolyard, parks, and branch 
libraries ;from citywide or regional level facilities such as museums, 
zoos, aquariums and "special interest activity centers" (e.g. the 
San Francisco Exploratorium ,and Marine World, a commercial theme 
park) . 


The following sections draw data from the Oakland Time Study 

Survey and report use levels across a range of facilities and serv- 


ices available to children in that community. We begin with 
neighborhood-based activities and, in the later sections , examine 
use of citywide and regional services. s 


* Appendix B provides backgron information on the Survey and the 

• characteristics of the sample. A scan of that material before read- 
ing further may help interpret the data presented here. ■ 




II- 3 


In many communities the most readily available out^of -school 
neighborhood facilities for children are playgrounds, often located 
adjacent to public elementary schools. In California, for instance, 
there are specific State Department of Education guidelines requir- 
ing the provision of open space for recess and organized play. 
Schoolyards sometimes include recreation centers administered by 
municipalities, thereby providing a comprehensive after-school 
leisure activities complex. Even in the majority of cases, where 
there is no adjacent recreation center, every primary school provides, 
minimally, some kind of open space. These may be small ,, fenced-in, 
asphalt surfaces or they may be large „ unfenced grassy areas. In 
either case, they are familiar turf to children, who mostly attend 
school close to home and find these facilities within easy walking 

Having a schoolyard close to home significantly affects use 
levels. As Tables 1 and 2 indicate, 62% of the children interviewed 
in Oakland play at the schoolyard , and 53% play there at least once a 
week. Aspects of the distributions are of interest. Boys are 
more likely than girls to play there, and they are more likely to 
play there often. Chidlren from lower income families are more 
likely to use the schoolyard than children from higher income 
families. (This may in part reflect differences in children's, 
access to alternative kinds of play space, particularly yards at 
home and rooms to themselves.) Blacks tend to use the schoolyards 
more than whites or Asians. This is especially true of black 
males, who are by far the heaviest users. The pattern of occasional 







Schoolyards- Parks Centers/Programs Library 
Total Sample * 63% 69% 31% 43% 

All Boys 71 74 37 46 

All Girls 

55 64 25 41 

Income Per Family 
Member > 

^$175 66% 

$175 * $499 66 

>$500 38 

Parent Education 

High School Degree 64% 
High School Graduate 60 

Some College '65 

College Graduate 57 
or more 

Sex/Race "Typology 

Black 68% 

Boy 76 

Girl 61 

White 51 % 

Boy 60 

Girl 42 

Asian 47% 

Boy 52 

Girl 45 

74% 35% 41% 

65 28 * 48 

60 22 41 

72% 32% 41% 

66 1 31 43 

70 30 43 

68 29 51 

71% 33% 41% 

76 39 41 

66 29 42 

63% ' 29% 51% 

75 35 56 

53 25 47 

54% 14% 61% 

5 3 21 6 5 

55 6 57 

Family Structure/ 
Mother's LF Status 

Single Parent 63% 
Working 62 
■* Not Working 64 

T f wo Parent ' 64% 
Working (bo th) 63 
Working (one) 65 

71%. 36% 40% 

69 37 > . 42 

73 34« 38 

67% ■ 25% 46% 

68 24 46 

66 27 48 






Total Sample 



(at least 
1 day/week) 


(at least 1 



Center s/Progr am s Libr ar Y 

(two or more (few times/ 

programs) mo. or more) 






Income Per Family 


$175 $499 











Parent Education 

High School Degree 
High School Graduate 
Some College 
College Graduate 
v or more 





Sex/Race Typology 





4 9% 












Family Structure/ 
Mother's, LF Status 

Single Parent 
Not Working 

Two Parent 

Working (bo th ) 
Wor king (o ne ) 








. 11% 




3 9%. 





and frequent use is also quite different for white and black 
children. Fifty-one percent of white children report that 
they play in the schoolyard some 'time, but only 37% play there 
at least once a week. For black children there is a much smaller 
difference between occasional and frequent users — 68% as against 61%. 
This suggests that for these children schoolyards are a basic part 
of their regular recreational patterns. In contrast, Asian 
children are far less likely than children of other ethnic groups 
to use the schoolyard or to use it on a regular basis. 

Children who are regular users of schoolyard recreational 
facilities seem to have relatively few alternatives. According 
to a recent study by the Oakland Planning Department, low income 
neighborhoods had on average significantly lower capital invest- 
ment in other parks and recreational facilities. In effect, 
schoolyards help to meet the play space needs of children in low 
income neighborhoods where there are few other off-street places 
to play. An apparent demand for these play opportunities is 
indicated by the higher level of use in these lower income areas. 

Frequent schoolyard users are also more independent and are less 
likely to depend on parents for assistance in their after-school hours. Only a third 
of the parents whose children go to the schoolyard five days a week 
or more say that their children depend on them to take them places 
they want to go. This contrasts with the situation of the infre- 
quent schoolyard users, 61% of whom depend on their parents to 
regularly transport them to their leisure activities. We may 
conclude, then, that children who are on their own a good deal 

ERIC - 35 


of the time (and therefore need facilities close to home) , who have 
fewer material resources, and who live in areas poorly serviced 
in other ways make up the largest share of the "regular" school- 
yard users. And the predominance of black children in most of 
the sampled neighborhoods having these characteristics accounts 
for much of the ethnic disparity in schoolyard use. Schoolyards, 
whether supervised by adult leaders or not, represent relatively 
accessible recreation areas for young people. Particularly in 
inner cities, where open space is often at a premium, these facil- 
ities provide both an important play opportunity and a place to 
socialize and be with peers. 


Like schoolyards, many urban communities have systems of 
neighborhood parks--often quite small— distributed throughout 
residential areas. Today, in most large cities, this open 
space is largely a highly valued legacy of the past. Typically 
parks were situated on the outskirts of towns and as the towns 
grew into cities- the parks were surrounded and sometimes engulfed 
by housing and commercial development. There is little possibil- 
ity of expanding these existing systems of facilities without extraordinary 
expenditures of money and (often) major dislocation of business and, residences . 

Parks are by no, means as ubiquitous as schoolyards. Where , 
there is a schoolyard located in most elementary, school attendance 
areas, the expected service area for a park is usually larger. 
Hence, when we speak of the parks system of a community and child- ., 
ren' s use of these facilities their access is, by definition, ^ 
more limited. 

ERJC 36 


Referring agai,n to Tables 1 and 2, let us consider the 
situation as reflected in the Oakland purvey data. Overall, 
use of parks parallels use of schoolyards. In our sample, 69% 
of the children said that they played in a local park at least 
once a month. Forty-one' percent report playing there at least 
once a week. Compared with schoolyards, a. smaller proportion 
of park users say that they are heavy users. Furthermore, 
a much smaller percentage of children play in parks 
frequently than play in schoolyards frequently. 

As we have said, not all children have easy access to parks, 
and the data suggests that proximity does impact use levels. 
Sixty-nine percent of those who say they go to the park at least 
once a month walk there, and children from families without cars 
are somewhat overrepresented among both occasional and frequent 
park users. Similarly, parents of park users are more likely 
to say that parks are "easy for their children to get to" than 
parents of non-users (Table 3) . 


Access to Parks and Use of Parks 

Child Goes To Park 

Parent: Once Per Month 

or More Less Often 

Is Access Easy 



65% 58% 
30 36 

Don 1 t Know 4 7 

(N=51.8) (N=232) 





There are sex differences in parks use, at a level parallel 
to differences in schoolyard use. Overall 74% of boys , compared 
with 64% of girls, say that they go to a park at least once a 
month. Only 47% of boys and 36% of girls say that they go to 
the park at least once each week. Fully 92% of all girls who 
frequently use the park are black, and the attendance pattern 
of black girls' is more similar to black boys than that of white 
girls is to that of white boys. 

There are .significant differences in use patterns across 
income groups. Children from lower income families are much 
more likely to use parks and to use them regularly than children 
from upper-income families. This tends to support the thesis 
already proposed that children from lower-income families have 
fewer open-space alternatives and that parks, like schoolyards, 
represent important play area opportunities. We shall return 
to this point in a subsequent section. 

So the pattern of parks use is somewhat) similar to that of 
schoolyards. In particular, those who are economically disadvan- 
taged and those who live with relatively less yard space around 
their homes tend to be the heaviest users. 




Recreation Centers and Organized Recreation 


Participation in recreation center programs is considerably 
lower than use of the facilities already examined. Referring to 
Tables 1 and 2 the pattern is as follows. Overall, 31% of the 
sampled children had taken a lesson or participated in a group 
at a recreation center'. Only 14% had participated in two or 
more programs . 

Like parks, the distribution of recreation centers across 
the city is such that many children live at some distance from 
the nearest facility. But in 7 of the 22 sampled neighborhods 
the recreation center was located in the schoolyard, meaning 
that children living in these areas had the easiest access. As 
the data show, use of the programs is quite significantly related 
to proximity (G=.72). Furthermore, 92% of children who took 
at least one lesson lived in close proximity to these facilities, 
(Table 4) . 


P roximity of Schoolyards to Recreation Centers and 

Levels of Use 

Schoolyard Has Adjacent Recreation Cente r 

Number, of Lessons 

.or Groups Child Has Yes 
Taken at Recreation 
Center • 











P < . 001 


(11=4 98) 

39 . 


Differences in use levels between^ the sexes are noteworthy, 

no doubt related to the content of the programs offered. To 

begin with, boys form the larger constituency. Thirty-seven. * 
. { -/ 
percent of boys as compared with 25% of girls had participated 

in at least one activity at a recreation center. Twenty percent 
of boys but only 10% of girls had participated in two or more. 

If we, consider different types of activities the pattern 
becomes more distinct. For example, sports is an important 
component of the programs offered at recreation centers, and 
twice as many boys as girls participated in sports groups and 
les.sons. While girls were more likely 'to take fine arts lessons, 
this likelihood was not correspondingly . as great as boys') 
participation in sports. This suggests an inadvertent imbal- 
ance in programming or, perhaps, some deliberate bias in the 
provision of activities Some activities are "intended" for 
boys, others for girls, and for various reasons there are gen- 
erally more programs fgr boys than for girls. 

This kind of data does not provide a definitive description 
of the institutional mechanisms'* through which^ unequal opportun- 
ities for girls and boys are maintained. In other, more exten- 
sive analyses of sex differences in'organized sports activities, 
we have found that girls.tended to participate in their smaller number 
of programs at rates roughly equal to" boys', and that elementary 

school athletic programs offered girls more opportunities than 


did municipal or private recreation agencies. We also 
recognize that some. . significant changes are taking place in all 





these agencies in the four years since our survey, due to compliance 
with federal Title IX guidelines an3 other social pressures. It is 
also apparent that fiscal constraints on children's services are 
jeopardizing these innovations at a time when they would other- 
wise be gaining acceptance. 

Differences across sex and ethnicity in levels of partici- 
pation are also striking and may be associated both with the 
nature of the programs available and their appeal among children 
of different backgrounds. There are significant differences in 
use and heavy use levels across ethnic groups and by sex within 
ethnic groups. In Tables 1 and 2 the extraordinary decline in 
participation from black to white to Asian children and the impor- 
tant differences between the sexes within each ethnic group is 
evident. Unravelling the sources of the differences is more than 

we can do here, other than to assert that they no doubt reflect, arrmg other things, 
cultural differences across ethnic groups and parents' perceptions 
of the safety of public spaces. They may even seem to confirm 
some traditional stereotypes of "who likes to do what." This 
should be read not just as a matching of personal choices and 
opportunities, but as evidence of constraints in program offer- 
ings that limit a child's sense of what he or she can do. 

Recreation center programs sponsored by municipal govern- 
ment agencies fall into two categories, those that are free 
and those that charge a fee. From our data it is clear that 
when lessons and groups are identified by their fee structure, 
children who are black, from low income families, from low educa- 





tion families and from single-parent families participated in 
free programs more often than white children and those from 
groups with higher income, higher education and two parents 
(Table 5). In other words,. the fee structure clearly influences 


Activity Fee Structure and Participation in Recreation 

Center Programs 

Fee Structure 

Child has Participated Fee Charged Free Activity 

in at least one activity 
and has following 

Black 10% 28% 

White 23 17 

Low Income ^ ^ 14 34 

High Income 12 13 

Low Education 1° 27 

High Education 12 20 

Single Parent * 1° 3 ^ 

Two Parent 12 12 

the nature of the user group. (Elsewhere in this monograph we 
will discuss in some detail the consequences of changing the 
fee structure in response] to municipal budget cutbacks 

With recreation center programs family structure and mother 1 s 
labor-force status does not seem to significantly influence parti- 
cipation 'rates , except that children of non-working single parents 
are the heaviest users, and that children of single parents are 
more likely to be users of free activities. Child care or 
babysitting is implicitly provided by these services although 
it is difficult to know how many parents— regardless of family 
structure— encourage their children to participate for this reason 



Recreation center programs, then, are different in several 
ways from the activities we have already discussed. First, 
recreation centers are not just places to go and play, but are 
the scene of organized programs and activities. Children's 
propensity to participate is likely to be linked to their own 
interests and, perhaps to their parents' desires. Second, the 
programs are historically tied to the developmental objectives 
that communities and professions have for the young. Thus, the 
programs available are not free of larger social purpose and, 
therefore, they are also susceptible to social and/or sexual 
biases and stereotypes. Third, these programs function in a 
two-tiered structure^ "fee" and "free," which apparently 
attract rather different constituencies, determined largely by 
family resources. Fourth, because they are supervised, these 
activities have the possibility of meeting a special need of 
parents today-child care outside of school hours /.while parents 
are working or otherwise engaged. 

Branch Libraries 
Libraries are prototypical "pro-educational" out-of-school " 
services.' Branch libraries have traditionally been located in 
•small facilities distributed across neighborhoods and intended 
to serve a different clientele than downtown main libraries. 
Children have always been an important client group of the 




branches and are therefore the recipients of a variety 

of special professional services. While we may think of the library 
as a place to go for books, our data suggests that, like other pub- 
lic .facilities/it also serves as a gathering place where child- 
ren can meet and be together without necessarily utilizing the 
service in the conventional way. We deduce this by comparing 
children's responses to' two questions, "Do you have a library 
^card?" and "How often do you go to the library?" (Table 6) . 


Library Cards a nd Libr ary Use 

Go to Library, 

Once/Month Less 
Have Card °r More Often 

- Yes 75% 38% 

No 25 62 

P <.001 

In our sample 54% of the children had library cards while 41% 
report that they go to the library at least once each month (Table 2) 
Relationship between the two measures is strong (G-.65) indicat- 
ing a general link between the two items, although the pattern of 
responses across social groups reflects the varying needs that 

libraries fill. 

Sixty-eight percent of children from high income families 
in the Oakland sample have library cards, as : against 40% of 
Children; from low-income families. Seventy-nine percent of 
children whose mothers have graduated from college (or more) have 
cards as against 48% of children whose mothers did not finish high 

^ 44 ; 

- . 11-16 

Differences are considerably smaller in response to the 
other question: "How often do you go toThe library?" In 
this case 41% of high income children and 37% of low-income 
children report that ..they go once a month, or more. Among middle- 
income children fully 50% say that they go once each month or 
more. The smaller differences in children's behavior across 
income groups may be a reflection of alternatives available among 
wealthier families. In these Eomes there may be more reading matter on 
hand or readily obtainable, so that going to the library, espe- 
cially if it is not conveniently located, is simply not done. 
Also, the range of responses to the "How often do you go" item 
is narrow across groups stratified by mother's education. Only 
10% difference was reported, with 41% of the lowest education 
group going to the library at least once each month compared 
with 51% of children whose mothers are in the highest education 
group (Table 7) . 


• . Library Use and Mother's Educati on 

Mother's Education 

Less than High School Some College Graduate 
Child Goes to Library High School Graduate , College or More 

Once a month or more 41% 43% 44% 51% 

ex. 5Q 57 56 49 

Less often - jy 3/ 

(N=206) (N=222) (N=228) (N=90) 

Libraries are not as common as schoolyards (Oakland has four 

school sites for each library branch) and for many children they 

are not within easy walking distance. Proximity apparently is 




an asset in attracting young people, for fully 73% of the chil- 
dren say that they walk to the library when they go there. A 
recent trend of closing down the smallest branches and replac- 
ing them with fewer, larger regional centers has been lauded for 
its economic efficiency but criticized by many senior citizens 
,md parents of young children— the population for whom distance 
poses the largest barrier. 

We developed a composite measure of the extent of library 
service in each sample neighborhood as a way of probing the 
nature of services across areas within the city. The lower 
the neighborhood index score the less likely a chiM was to 
use the library on a regular basis (Table 8) . - 
•' " TABLE 8 

Children's Library Service and Library Use 

I , Non-Users and 2 
Library Index Summary Score Infrequent Users- 

1 4 (Highest Quality Service) 14 % 

• 3 24 
2 30 
1 (Lowest Quality Serviee) 32 
! P < .01 

1 The "Library services summary" index consisted of the following 
items: availability of a specially trained children's librarian, 
closeness of the library branch to the neighborhood, and the size 
of the branch's circulation of books (which is a reasonable proxy 
for size of collection) . Each item was rated on a three point 


Visits library less than once per month. 


Going to the library is a different social experience across groups. 
Girls are a bit less "likely to go to the library alone than boys. 
Eighty-five percent of girls as compared with 80% of boys report 
that they usually go with friends and siblings. Parents also 
have a clear impact on their children's library behavior. They serve 
role models and as facilitators of transportation and card reg- 
istration. Children are more likely to go (G=..37) and are 
more likely to have a library card (G=.56) if their parents use 
the library themselves*. And going to the library with a parent 
is basically associated with high income, high education level, 
coming from a two-parent family and being white or Asian. This 
kind of modelling behavior, under any circumstances, represents 
an important dimension of library use (Table 9) . 

With regard to differences between boys and girls the fol- 
lowing picture emerges. Overall, boys are just slightly more 
likely to go to the library than girls, while girls are much 
more likely than boys to have a library card (61% against 47%). 
In general, girls and boys look more alike in their library beha- 
vior than they do on any of the other types of activities we have 
examined here (see Tables 1 and 2). 

Finally it should be noted that parents are more satisfied 
with the library if their child used it or had a library card. 
The correlation of satisfaction and direct contact with the 
service is one that holds for many of the other children's serv- 
ices where participation is not compulsory. In Chapter Four 
we will discuss the relationship of indicators of citizens' 
satisfaction with local services to the "taxpayers' revolt." 


Parent and Child Library Use 


Child's Library Use 

Once per month or more 
Less often 

Parent's Library Use 

Not Hardly Sometimes 

at all ever or often N 





Child's Library Use 

Once per month or more 
Less often 

P^. 001 

Parent's Library Use 

at all 




(N=364) (N=214) 

or often 



Parent Library Use and Whether Child Has 
Library Card 

Child has card 


at all 


Parent's Library Use 

Hardly Sometimes 
Ever or often N 




Child has card 


Parent's Library Use 

Not Hardly ' Sometimes 

at all ever or often 




P<. 001 








The facilities discussed above are principally neighborhood 
based. They are characteristically provided in decentralized net- 
works relatively accessible to children near their homes. We now 
turn to a range of facilities that are thoroughly "non-neighborhood" 
in that they service a much larger area and typically require much 
larger populations as a base of support. 

We will focus on six facilities that have an educational dimen- 
sion built into their programs. Three are museums— Oakland ' s city 
museum, the University of California's Lawrence Hall of Science 
and the San Francisco Exploratorium. The Oakland Museum is located 
in the downtown area, near the main library, the largest city park 
and main routes of both mass transit systems. It provides a full 
range of art, history and science exhibits as well as programs 
exploring local or regional" issues of culture., history and ethnic 
tradition. It has a working agreement with the public schools 
whereby large numbers of children come to the museum each year 
to participate in activities led by specially trained instructors. 
The Lawrence Hall of Science is located in the hills above the 
University of California campus in Berkeley (adjacent to Oakland). 
Its science programs and exhibits are principally designed for 
children and teenagers. The Lawrence Hall sponsors a variety of 
after-school and weekend classes for children with special science 
interests. Its focus is "sub-.regional," that is, most of its 
programs are attended by children from East Bay communities. The 
San Francisco Exploratorium is also a science facility for young 




# - x 


I It 21 




people. Supported by city funds and Federal and foundation grants, \ 
the Exploratorium utilizes high school students as "explainers"-- 
docents who work with children at science exhibits designed to 
be touched and manipulated. The programs are relatively unstruc- 
tured, although every effort is made to help children learn as 
much as they can or will during each visit. The Exploratorium has 
a region-wide clientele. Hence, the museums have somewhat different 
agendas and intended audiences, but all three seek to interest and 
attract young people with educational programs and exhibits. 

The other three facilities discussed here also have educa- 
tional and cultural concerns, but they are somewhat less intentional. 
Also, they charge admission fees, meaning that access may be related 
not just to the distance one must travel, but to the cost of the 

activity itself. 

The Oakland Zoo serves the city and the entire East Bay. It 
is supported principally by city budget allocations. Only capital 
improvement programs receive significant outside support, mostly 
in the form of patron and corp/rate grants The San Francisco 
Aquarium and Marine World are /both located quite far from Oakland. 
The Aquarium functions much like a museum, while Marine World is 
more of an amusement park. Of the six activities, fees at Marine 
World are highest, while depending under whose auspices a child 
visits, entry to the other activities may cost several dollars 
or they may be free of charge. — 

In this sectior^then^e-^^^ 6 examining children's use of 
several different kinds of facilities-some located in close proximity 
to our sample population, others at some distance, and some charging 
fees while others are free or nearly free 

--. 50 

The Museums 

Even cursory examination of Table 10 'indicates important 
differences among museums in terms of their relative drawing 
power. Oakland's city museum had been visited by 48% of the 
sample during the survey year, while only 19% had been to the 
Lawrence Hall of Science. This kind of difference is not explained 
entirely by proximity. For instance, the Lawrence Hall of Science 
is much closer to Oakland then is the San Francisco Exploratorium, 
but the latter was visited by many more children during the year 
(28% of the sample) . 

Most children go to these museums as a school activity rather than outside 
of school hours. Sixty-seven percent of those who had been to the Oakland 
Museum went with a school class,- as did 70% of those who had 
"been to the Lawrence Hall and 77% of those who had been to the 
Exploratorium. Respectively only 16%, 14% and 12% of those who 
had visited each facility during the year had gone with their 
parents. The differences across the sample in terms of "who they 
go with" will be explored below. 

The Oakland Museum can claim some success in reaching many 
different kinds of children. Roughly the same proportions of 
the sample, across all family income and education groups have 
been there during the year. This is not the case for either 
of the other museums, where the likelihood of attendance rose 
steadily with increasing income and mothers' education. 

The proportions of blacks and whites who had been to the 
Oakland Museum are comparable. However, only half as many 


) * 


(Children who have been to each facility during the school year of 

the Survey.) 

Total Sample 

All boys 
All girls 

Income per family 
member < 

Less than $175 
$500 or more 

Mother 1 s Education 

High school graduate 
Some college 

College graduate or more 

Sex/Race Typology 







Family Structure/Mother's 
Labor Force Status 

Single Parent 

Not Working 

Two Parent 

Working (both) 
Working (one) 

Who Child Went with (This Year ) 

School Class 

Child Has M Ever Been" 
to Facility 



of Science 





A Q Q. 


£, O X 



v 13 % 































n a 

Z 4 

ee 52% 

15% X 










9 7 
Z J 

> 45 

















Z /% 






z y 



*5 9 















1 / 








— 32% 






J Z 

J. D 
























' 61 



^ 47% 






A C 
4 D 

Z D 

































Asian children (25%) reported that they had been there in the 
Survey year. The relative distributions for the Exploratorium 
are somewhat similar, although the proportions of each group are 
much diminished. On the^ other hand, the Lawrence Hall mainly 
draws white and Asian children (in equal proportions), and .less 
than half as large a proportion of blacks. 

Tables ll' and 12 reveal important differences between two 
groups of children— those who went with their school c\ass 
during'the year and those who .went with their parents. For 
the Oakland Museum, as family income and education levels increase*, 
the child is le-ss likely to have gone with the school class and 
more likely to have visited with his or her family. A far larger 
proportion of whites and Asians have been with parents rather than 
with school and a diminished proportion of blacks have been with 

parents. . 

The children who had visited the Oakland Museum with a school 
class were evenly divided between those with single parents and 
those with two.* Visits that children made with their own parents 
were not equally common, however. Just 29% of those who went 
with their parents were from one-parent households . 

For the' Lawrence Hall of Science,- the use patterns are 
drawn very sharply, suggesting more exclusivity in the clientele 
Whereas 33% of those from low income households who had been to 

* The total sample includes 42% single parent families and 58% two 

parent families, 




TABLE 11 . r 

Characteristics of Children Who ""Went with School Class" tp Facilities 


Went with School Class 

Income per family member 

Less than $175 
$500 or more 

Mother's Education 

Less than high school degree 
High school graduate 
Some college 

College graduate or more 


White 0 
Asian * 

Family Structure/Mother's 
Labor Force Status 

Single parent 

Not Working 

Two Parent 

Working (both) 
Working (one) 




Lawrence . 

of Science 
















35% , 















, 26 






• 9 * 





• 7 















27 , 














19 , 

' 22 







Characteristics of Children Who "Went with Parents" to Facilities 





- Went with Parents 

Income per family member 

Less than $175 
$500 or more 

Mother's Education 

B Less than high school degree 
High school graduate 
Some college 

College graduate or more 



Family Structure/Mother 1 s 
Labor Force Status 

Single Parent 



Not Working 

Two Parent 

Working (both) 
Working (one) 


of Science 

x — 










































r An 


VJ T) 


























12 ' 




























the Hall had gone with a school class, only 3% had gone with a 
parent. At the other extreme, 22% of school visits to the 
Exploratorium were by children from high income families, while 
they accounted for 42% of trips with parents.. The differences 
based on stratification by mother's education are most dramatic. 
Children whose mothers had not graduated from high school accounted 
for a quarter of school class visits to the Hall, but none of them 
went with their parents. Only 12% of children who had gone to the 
Hall with a school class had mothers who were college graduates, 

while 49% of visits with parents were by children with mothers 

who .were college graduates. 

The overwhelming proportion of black children who went to 
the Lawrence Hall of Science went with a school class. Blacks 
accounted for only a small proportion of trips with parents 
while the converse is the case for whites. Finally, as with 
the Oakland Museum, children of two-parent families made up a 
much larger proportion of trips with a parent than did children 
from siVigle-parent families. 

The Exploratorium in San Francisco drew Oakland sixth graders 
. in a distribution falling between those of the two museums des- 
cribed above. Black' children and children from low income or 
single-parent families were substantially more likely to have 
gone with their parents to the Exploratorium than to the Lawrence 
Hall of Science. For school visits there was a smaller difference 
between the two institutions. Since the Exploratorium is somewhat 
further from Oakland than the Hall of Science, the difference in, 




attendance with parents cannot be explained simply by distance. 
The: difference reflects parents' and children's preferences based 
on prior visits, word-of -mouth , and publicity, as well 

as other factors influencing the choices of a family outing. 
Regardless of these specific qualities of family travel decisions, 
it is clear that visits with- school classes greatly increase 
disadvantaged students' chances of seeing these museums. 

Zoo, Aquarium, Marine World 

This diverse set of activities reflects classic "distance 
decay" travel decisions. The Zoo is in the Oakland hills and 57% 
of the children had been there during the year. Overall 94% of 
the children in our sample say that they have been to the Zoo at 
some time in their life the highest proportion of any activity 
studied) . The Aquarium is in San Francisco, about 20 miles 
from Oakland, and 30% of the children had been there during the 
Survey year. Marine World, a popular Bay Area amusement park, 

is the farthest from Oakland, almost 4 0 miles away, and only 
2 3% of the sample say that they had been there during the year. 

In the case of all three facilities a somewhat smaller pro- 
portion of high income children had gone during the year. This 
is interesting given that these are mostly fee charging activities 
and private transportation costs are considerable. As we will 
see below, school sponsorship (and subsidizing) of trips accounts 
for some of these differences. 



Ethnic differences in use are large and significant. 
Whereas 66% of blacks had been to the Zoo during the year, 
only 42% of whites and 13% of Asians had been there. Similar 
ethnic differences are found for Marine World and in slightly 
attenuated form for the Aquarium. 

Perhaps most notable for our purposes, a much larger propor- 
tion of children had been to the Zoo with parents than with 
their school class (39% against 15%), while about equal propor- 
tions had been to Marine World with parent and school class 
(43% against 40%). Only in the case of the Aquarium is "school 
dominance" in evidence (67% against 23%) . 

For the Aquar i vim- -the school dominated activi cy--the pattern 
is much like that which we have seen above for the museums. 
Lower income children and children from families in which mothers 
have less education made up the largest proportions of Aquarium 
visitors who had gone with a school class. Children from upper 
income families and those with more education were more likely 
to have gone with their parents. Blacks comprise most of those 
who have gone with, school classes. Finally, children from single- 
parent families represent over half of the school class visits 
to the Aquarium but only a quarter of the parent-child trips. 

The Zoo and Marine World are our two examples of activities 
that children did more often with parents than with school classes, 
As noted earlier, 39% of children who had been to the Zoo during 
the year went with their own parents, only 15% with a school class 
(The rest went with siblings, friends, friend's parents or other 

m£ , 58 


organized groups.) The. comparable figures for Marine World are 
43% and 40%. 

The Zoo is the city's most popular facility for children. 
Virtually all of the respondents had been there at some time and 
more than half had been there during the year of our study. By 
income gro%p, among those who went to the Zoo, about the same 
proportions had been there with school and parent. \ 

By ethnicity, blacks accounted for a larger proportion of 
school trips to the Zoo and a somewhat lesser amount of family 
trips. White children accounted for about three times as many 
trips with parents as with school. Fifty-eight percent of 
school trips were by children from single-parent families, 38% 
of the family" trt^s-were^hTidren from single-parent families. 

While Oakland's Zoo resembles the city Museum in terms of 
the patterns of attendance, Marine World has a pattern all its 
own. Here family resources are extremely important. With 
increasing family income a larger proportion of trips are with 
parents rather than school. Similarly, families with higher 
parental education levels make up a larger proportion of family 
trips. An extraordinary finding is that fully 92% of school 
trips to Marine World were by blacks, while none were by whites 
or Asians. In contrast blacks accounted for just 28% of the trips 


with parents. Finally, as in the case of most of these activi- 
ties, children of single parents made up the majority of . those 
who had been to Marine World with a school class while children 
of two-parent families made up the majority of those who had 
been with parents. 

We can complete this analysis by looking more closely at 
the role of the school and family as a source of exposure to 
these citywide and regional facilities. The evidence is reported 
in Table 13. If a child attends a school which received federal 
Title I compensatory education funds, and he or she has gone to 
any of the activities described, the trip was more likely (except 
in the case of the Zoo) .to have been a school trip. If a child 
does not attend a Title I school, with respect to places where 
there is an admissions charge — Zoo, Aquarium and Marine World — 
the trip was, more likely made with parents. In every case 
children from Title I schools were more likely to have gone 
with the school than were children from non-Title I schools. 
On the other hand, inoevery case but one, children who did not 
attend Title I schools were more likely than their Title I counter- 
parts to have gone to a particular facility with their parents. 

The extensive use of Title I funds to subsidize these 
outings is evidence of their widely recognized educational value, 
or at least of the ease with which they can be integrated into 
an elementary school program. Resource allocations for trips 
are made by principals and teachers at each school. Although 
Title I funds are awarded to schools in Oakland if they have a 


Sources of Exposure to "Community Wide" and "Region Wide" Facilities 

Child Attends Title-I- School 

Went with School Went with Parent 

Child Does Not Attend Title I School 

and • " 

Went with School Went with Parent 


Oakland Museum 

Lawrence Hall of Science 



Marine World 


























certain level of low-income or under-achieving students, the 
characteristics of an individual child are not a factor in- deter- 
mining whether he or she goes on any particular trip. In other 
words, the subsidy goes to the school rather than "following the 
child," a policy adopted in some school districts . 
No doubt the findings presented here about proportions of trips 
taken with parents and with classes are influenced by the fact 
that Oakland's Title I schools are 'predominantly black and have, 

c-inrrio r.*T-pn-i-c; lower family incomes and lower average 
on average, more single parents, iuwei j-auu.-i-j 

years of parental education than non-Title I schools. Other 

papers based on Time Study data explore in more detail this 

relationship between school and family resources in the 

. . 3 

exposure to cultural opportunities. 

We have now described children's use of six non- 
neighborhood facilities. We have seen significant differences 
in levels of use and sources of exposure across social groups 
and across type -of facility. These differences sometimes reflect 
constraints on access (proximity, material resources, educational 
background reflecting cultural resources) and sometimes differences 
in interests and preferences. Overall, Oakland's citywiae facil- 
ities drew surprisingly well among all social groups, suggest- 
ing an interest on the part of the Zoo and Museum leadership in 
reaching a broad spectrum of the community. The most dramatic 
• differences across groups occur at the regional level where cost, 
distance and facility specialization significantly affect use 
patterns, thereby increasing the importance of public subsidies 
as a mechanism for equalizing children's cultural opportunities. 

ERJC -,i 63 


Neighborhood, Citywide and Regional Services 
As an Analytical Context 

This description of children's use of various out-of -school 
facilities and services provides background for the discussion that 
follows. To begin with, it is clear that these kinds of oppor- 
tunities are valued by children. Neighborhood facilities attract 
large numbers of child users and are clearly important on a day-to- 
day basis. Citywide and regionwide facilities are, for a variety 
of reasons, less frequently utilized but nonetheless encountered by 
the majority of preadolescent children in the course of a year. 

Only a small literature has focused on children's use of 
neighborhood and community facilities. As a result, it is easy 
to lose sight of the special role they play in the lives of 
- children. Since children do not lobby politically on their own 

(and do not constitute an interest group in traditional terms) , their 
facility use patterns are the only data with which we can evaluate 
the significance of various publicly provided services directed 
at them. * 

This cluster of services is hardly a "frill" from the perspec- 
tive of young people. They use the facilities and services to 
meet various needs, although not always in the conventional fashion'. 
The services, as we shall see, often have developmental and "pro- 
educational" agendas that. complement activities and. programs^at 
school. For that reason we must view them as far more central to 
the well-being of children than adults often presume. Understand- 
ing their role in children's daily lives provides a context within 
which we shall explore the impact of the contemporary urban fiscal 
crisis , 

ERIC 64 


Chapter Two 


1\ Oakland City Planning Department, Open Spac e T Conservation 
and Recreation Element of the Comprehensive Plan 
(1976), Chapter 3- 

2 Elliott A. Medrich, Judith Roizen, Victor Rubin and 

Stuart Buckley , The Serious Business of Growing Up : 
A Study of Children's Lives Outside of School 
(Berkeley; University of California Press, forth- 
coming , 1981 ) . 

3. Charles S. Benson, "Time and How it is Spent." In 
Charles' S. Benson and Michael Kirst (eds.), 
Educational Finance and Organization: Future 
Re search Directions (Washington: GPO, 1980); 
Charles S. Benson, "Household Production of Human- 
Capital: Time Uses of Parents and Children as 
Inputs." In Walter W. McMahon and Terry Ge,ske (eds.), 
Toward Efficiency .and Equity in Educational 
Financ e (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1980); and 
•Charles S. Benson, Stuart Buckley and Elliott A. 
Medrich, "Families as Educators: Time Use Contrib- 
utions to School Achievement." In James Guthrie (ed.), 
School Finance Policy in the 19b0's: A Decade of 
Conflict (Cambridge: Ballinger, 1980) . 






Close examination of the history of children's recreational 
and cultural services should disabuse us of any notions that 
they have existed "outside" of major political, ideological 
and economic processes. Rather, linkages between the serv- 
ices and the larger social system provide the substance for 
assessment of their current predicament. 

Perhaps the most important set of linkages is. that compris- 
ing the urban fiscal crisis. Revenues and budgets delimit the 
boundaries of change in urban services. When fiscal conditions 
are relatively stable, these boundaries are well-known and 
incentives .and risks are reasonably predictable. When they 


are not, as at present, the situation, even in the relatively 
short run, is fraught with uncertainty. In this section and the 
following one we intend to describe this period of uncertainty 
and transition. First, we will provide a context of •political 
and economic developments in which to place the services. Then, 
in the next section, we willsexamine the responses of service 
providers, clients and politicians to .the tax revolt and fis- 
cal strains associated with California's Proposition 13. That 
response encompasses both immediate crisis management and the 
beginnings of fundamental re-organization of the services. And 
while the situation as a whole is unique, there are, in these 




5 I II- 2 

/ ' . ■ ' * 

NresponseS, important elements of continuity with the resolution 

of past difficulties. ■ 

\ Growing up with Local government 

Three broad characteristics of the role of children's serv- 
ices in local government provide a basic framework for under- 
standing the recent fiscal history. First, the services have 
evolved into substantial municipal bureaucracies , complete with 
a largely unionized f or professional workforce; routinized, often , 
" cumbersome administration and frequent managerial turbulence. 
Second, the services have remained primarily local in funding - 
and control, in increasingly sharp contrast to other services 
which have seen .massive growth in state and federal involvement. 
Third, the services 'remain in, a fundamentally ambiguous position 
concerning their main objectives. They have sought legitimacy 
* both as an instrument of social reform and as a conventional, 
non-controversial collective good, and have not garnered enough 
support in either role to ensure a stable niche as an "essential 
service." These three characteristics of children's services 
emerge from their history, which we can briefly summarize here. 
• Children of urban working-class immigrant families were the first 
recipients, in the 1890 's, of playgrounds and programs designed 
Specifically for recreation. While the ideological root^of \ 
these services went back to the 1830' s, it took the pressure 
of industrialization. and urbanization during the Progressive Era 
to establish recreation as a social movement. Led by upper-class 
philanthropists and educators-, the recreation movement sought to 



create a' niche between schools, public health and social welfare 
agencies, where they could address certain special, largely unmet, 
needs of children. 'Their program was intended not just to amuse 
young peopte or keep them out" of trouble, but to socialize them 
to the values of the dominant American culture. 

By 1920 the recreation movement had succeeded in making the 
basic program universal in large cities, and the focus shifted 
to the leisure needs of adults. Public libraries, which had 
followed a parallel route from privately sponsored children's y 
rooms to substantial municipal edifices also shifted their empha- 
sis somewhat. The two services flourished in the twenties in the 
cities, but found that with the Depression their source of local 
public support dis'si.pated quickly. 

The funding crisis brought on by the Depression held a source 
of salvation, however, since the Federal government stepped into .. 
the field for the first time. Recreation leadership and the con- 
struction of parks, libraries/ and other cultural facilities became 
a major component of every federal youth employment program. The 
New Deal also created 6,000 new recreation councils in small towns, 
'which became the basis- for permanent oonmissions. 

In the two decides after World War II, recreational and cul- 
tural services regained their primary orientation toward young 
children, particularly during the period of great suburban devel- 
opment. The number of new facilities and programs grew tremen- 
dously, part of the child^-centered life style sought by so many 
yoiing families. Concurrently, families remaining in central cit.ies 

ERIC ^ 68 

watched as their older facilities became obsolete and ever more 
inadequate. By the mid-sixties, the failures of urban recreation 
(and to a lesser extent, libraries) were repeatedly cited as con- 
tributing causes of poor school achievement, juvenile crime and 
civil disorders. 

With the War on Poverty, a second important period of major 
federal involvement in recreation and cultural services provision 
began. Recreation was seen as an immediate form of "social\contrc 
of youth, and a way of dissipating tension and stress in urban 

ghettos. But many of the leaders hired under these new programs 


saw themselves as ocmmunity organizers rather than "soft cops." 
The tension between the dual purposes of these youth programs in 
time contributed to the withdrawal of federal support, once again 
leaving local governments with a new stratum of bureaucracy. 
Through the 1970' s both city and suburban agencies alike have 
sought to diversify and modernize their service to attract a 
relatively shrinking youth population, one which has access to 
many more commercial alternatives when compared to the old. play- 
grounds and lending libraries of the past generations. 

So within this historical context, it is clear that in many 
ways recreational and cultural services "grew up" with local 
government. They were established as municipal responsibilities 
at a time when many other reform-oriented institutions' were like- 
wise becoming public. From experimental "sand gardens" and read- 
ing rooms the services developed into extensive networks of 

neighborhood-level and centralized facilities with programs for 
people of all ages. In the early decades of this growth most 
politica'l issues concerned the expansion of facilities and pro- 
grams: whom to serve, where to locate. The internal workings 
of the programs were relatively simple and usually not contro- 
versial. As local recreation and culture agencies became univer- 
sal and the levels of service rose, so did the degree of bureau- 
cratic complexity and the number of active interest groups. 
Increasingly, the administrative procedures of municipal agencies 
became the focus of political disputes, and were often targeted 
as obstacles to innovation and equity. 

In terms of local! fiscal commitments /for these services and 
the size" of the supporting bureaucracies, these programs have 
been well entrenched i|n the local government services "package." 
Municipal park and recreation expenditures, .for example, have 
accounted for a remarkably steady proportio n (roughly two percent) 

of local government expenditures throughout this century (Table la) . 


During that^period the per capita and absolute expenditures for 
parks and recreation have\ grown substantially (Table lb) but not 
disproportionately to othe\: government fuctions. 

The' political and administrative processes by which recrea- 
tion and |culture agencies have operated have been similarly con- 
sistent With other domains of local government. Parks construction 

and maintenance yeilded its flair share of clubhouse patronage 
and "honest graft" in the heydays of urban political machines, 




State and Local Government Expenditure on 
Parks and Recreation: 1902 tc 1976-77 

Percent Local Government 
Spent on 
Parks a mPKe creation 


Per Capita State and 

Local Expenditures on 

Pa rks and Recreation - 

197 6-// 

9 "3% 

$22. 72 


9 A 

Z • 4 

18 . 00 


9 A 
Z . 4 

16. 24 


1 A 

z • 4 



1 0 

z • z 

12. 20 


z • z 


196 9-7 0 


Z • J 



9 9 
Z • Z 

6 52 


9 9 

z . z 



2 . 0 

3 57 









0.81 (1936) 



1.18 (1932) 













Source: US Census of Governments, (1977) Historical Statistics 





U.S. Municipal Expenditures on 
Recreation and Libraries: 1976^72 

Total Expenditure 




Direct Municipal Expenditures $ 656,089 

$ 2,503,571 

Current Operation 

Salaries and Wages 



1, 857,588 


Capital Outlay 





645, 983 


Source: U.S. Census of Governments, (1977) Municipalities 





Administrative reforms from civil service to program budgeting were 
implemented in libraries and youth centers as extensively as in 
sanitation or police. The clash between machine and reform 
management philosophies, so common in American urban history, 
has been prominent in parks and recreation as much as any aspect 
of government. 

Just as many of the issues in recreation and culture paralleled 
those of other urban services, so do many of the active interest groups 
Organizations such as the American Library Association and the 
National Recreation and Parks Association developed standards by 
which to measure local services, and have helped foster proges- 
sional identity and public acceptance. The associations trace 
their origins to the social reform movements of the Progressive 
Era, but in recent decades have often been more "establishment" 
than reformer. In the 1960 's and 70 's challenges from caucuses 
'of ethnic -minorities and women, and from advocates of non-tradi- 
tional forms of service have jolted the associations in a manner 
comparable to other professions. For now it is sufficient to 
recognize that^ these groups developed within the general contours 
of American service professions, and are themselves potentially 
powerful voices in fiscal crisis politics. 

Public employee unions have also become important actors 
in the policy-making process for recreation and culture, though 
their growth has been relatively recent. Many full-time, perma- 
nent workers in these services are covered by collective bargain- 
ing agreements, in proportions generally following the level of 



unionization as a whole in an area. Because of their relatively 
small numbers, the staffs of museums, libraries and recreation 
departments are generally in "grab-bag locals" including workers 
from a variety of services. As we shall see shortly, this can 
have important consequences for the type of political action 
these groups undertake. Staff who work with children are rarely 
in their own bargaining units. Thus, unlike school teachers, 
the mere presence of labor activism does not automatically create 
high public visibility for issues concerning children. Also 
the high proportions of temporary and part-txme workers and the 
extensive use of volunteers combine to give these services a 
more diversified labor force than most public services. Yet 
other services are increasingly employing these kinds of flexible 
staffing arrangements, so some once distinctive features of cul- 
tural and recreational programs are becoming more common. 

While most of the above description emphasizes the things 
that children's services share in common, with other local govern- 
ment services, there are still important dissimilarities. One 
such difference is that these programs are highly dependent on 
locally generated revenue. Though there are noteworthy exceptions 


(some of which we will discuss), recreation and culture have seen 
^pnly limited state and federal assistance compared to other 
functions, especially education, welfare and health. Funds for 
capital improvements have always been a key element of federal aid 
for these services. When only operating expenses are considered 
the proportion of local funding is even higher. A corollary of 
low state and federal spending is a lack of mandates from those 




entities determining how local governments should organize these 
services. Local decisionmaking is more firmly established in 
libraries, parks and recreation than almost any other function 
of municipal government. 

The high degree of local financing means, in most cases, 
that the property tax has been the dominant source of revenue 
for these services. In the wake of Proposition 13, the property 
tax has yielded California cities less revenue, and even in 
states without fiscal containment legislation there has been 
a trend toward reduction in the share of local expenditures 
covered by property taxes.-/ And increased involvement 

of states in the funding of culture and recreation raises for 
the first time some ssues which are more familiar where public 
schools are concerned. Does the state have the power, responsi- 
bility or will to equalize expenditures among municipalities? 
Will the state take an active hand in running the services, 
and what consequences might that entail? 

Answers to these questions would imply development of compre- 
hensive policies vis a vis the services where none have existed. 
This could mean more attention given by legislators and policy- 
makers to the usually implicit tension among different objectives 
of children's services. Our historical analysis, presented in 
detail elsewhere, shows that attempts to establish these programs 
have been founded on either their potential as activist social 
services, or their value as basic non-controversial providers of 
leisure activities. In the first mode, cultural and recreation 


Ill- 9 

programs might gain legitimacy by being part of the "solution" 
to critical problems such as crime and unemployment. The second 
model is less ambitious, but consequently has usually offered 
-more stability. While different historical periods have seen 
either the social reform or the leisure orientation dominant, 
the current situation seems to have brought out both approaches 
as defenses against budget reductions. Conservatives such as 
Howard Jarvis, co-author of Proposition 13, argued that parks 
and recreation were "property-related" services and therefore 
not the target of his tax-cutting initiative. On the other hand, 
residents of low income inner-city areas have been arguing that 
these services, and libraries as well, are needed as deterrents 
to social problems like juvenile crime. 

The rhetorical defenses -of children's services may be diverse 
and with historical precedents, but they are not necessarily 
effective. For cultural and recreational services are not in 
control of their own destiny. Even' though they do not, necessarily, 
constitute the "fat" in government which taxcutters have sought 
to eliminate, they bear some of the heaviest budget reductions. 
Even though they might mobilize considerable political support, 
they must compete for scarce resources with other functions whose 
claim on public funds is undeniably more urgent. Therefore, 
in order to understand the possibilities for children's culture 
and recreation services, we must see how they fit into the broader 
urban fiscal crisis. 


ERIC . 7 6 


Budget Cutting vs. Fiscal Stress 

Children's services may be immersed in long-term structural 
fiscal stres but what they mainly experience from month to month 
is a succession of immediate budget crises. The scenarios of 
actual or threatened reduction of services have an internal logic 
which is somewhat independent of the complex, diverse causes of 
long-term fiscal stress. The closing of libraries evokes simi- 
lar responses in a state with a large tax surplus and one with 
a substantial debt. Proposed layoffs of recreation staff gener- 
ates a particular kind of political reaction, regardless of 
whether there is a "taxpayers' revolt" in progress. The best 
guide to the impact of Oakland's Proposition 13-related service 
"reductions, for example, was a 1976 budget cutting episode in 
that city, rather than any factors related to the 1978 intia- 
tlve itself. In short, there is a micro-politics of austerity 
in each community which engages most of the regular interest 
groups in reaction to a given set of fiscal circumstances. In 
the following chapter we will describe how a variety of California 
communities coped^ with the impact of Proposition 13 on services 
for children. But while much of that process might be understood 
in terms of a seemingly stable set of interest groups and bureau- 
cratic processes, there is more at issue. We must ex-lore the 
ways in which that political process around children's services 
is itself changing. In this sense, nunicipal budget cutting _ 
episodes and taxpayer dissatisfaction need to be understood 
in historical and political context. 

Most of the research on urban fiscal stress has undertaken 
the task of explaining the remarkable growth in public expen- 
ditures, especially of state^and local government. The fact 
of that qrowth is not so much at issue here, but its causes and 
its relationship to the political process are our concern. Inso- 
far as Proposition 13and related fiscal containment measures 
signify a reversal 'o± . the expansionary trend or at least a slow- 
ing of that growth, these prior theoretical perspectives may 
seem somewhat dated. Yet even the fiscal containment controver- 
sies should be seen as a response to the long-range trends in 
the growth of state and local government. 

Another broad task of a theory "of fiscal crisis is to exp-^in 
the widening gaps between revenue and expenditures. The expansion 
of government would not present the same kinds of problems if 
the resources necessary to sustain that growth were, readily 
available. Also, a useful theory of fiscal stress should account 
for the dynamics df change in political structures which occurs 
in response to a crisis situation. 

These are three very different tasks, so it is not surpris- 
ing that most analysis tends to focus on only one or two of 
them and- thereby provide only a partial explanation of fiscal 
crisis. In contrast, the few overarching structural analyses 
which hav^ been developed seem to miss the variability and the 
salience of particular local conditions. We suspect that our 
purposes would be best served by some kind of middle-range perspec 




tive, and that one can eventually emerge from critiques of the 
exceedingly general and excessively specialized analyses that 
predominate today . 

Children's interests have been especially poorly researched » 
by those concerned with urban fiscal problems. Advocates and 
scholars of the different services for young people seldom 
address their common situation. Even rarer is an analysis which 
cuts across agency lines and attempts to link immediate budget- 
ing issues to the long-term prospects for public support for 
these programs. In an attempt to do these two things, we must 
examine both numerous partial explanations that have been advanced 
to explain urban fiscal problems, and also consider the poten- 
tial value of a more comprehensive theoretical framework. For 
as we have shown so far, the future of children's out-of -school 
services is inseparably bound up with the course of local govern- 
ment as a whole. 

Particularistic Explanations ' ^ 

In 1975, when New York City had less company in its advanced 
state of fiscal distress than it does today, that city's unique 
civic responsibilities and structure of governance were frequently 

blamed for its deficits. New York did have somewhat more extensive 
commitments than most municipalities, especially in hospitals 

and higher education. New York bore a higher proportion of wel- 
fare costs than most cities, included^ a proportionately larger 
dependent population. Its ponderous/ highly centralized government 




seemed to escalate the cost and minimize the effectiveness of 
all kinds of services. Yet in the final analysis, New York's 
special features only help to- explain why it was the first of 
many major cities to approach default in recent times. For exam- 
ple, Morris, in his recently published history of the city's bud- 
get crises, shows that New York's salary levels and expenditures 

for most city services were' not out of line with those of the 


nation's ten largest cities. Since some of those cities have 
recently experienced major budget problems, it is necessary to 
recognize that while every city has unique characteristics, 
virtually all of them will experience some kind of fundamental 
difficulties. Also, fiscal stress is no longer only a feature 
of large city governments. Chronic revenue shortfalls are now 
\ being experienced in ail kinds of suburbs and rural communities, 
tthis relatively recent phenomena needs to be analyzed systemati- 
cally, with attention to the relationships between cities and 
suburbs as well as the diversity among suburban communities. 

\ Even when the factor s contributing to New York City's plight 
can be identified as general urban phenomena they do not provide 
an adequate explanation for crisis conditions. Certainly poor 
management techniques and inadequate leadership are common enough, 

but they do little to explain the origins Of the tremendous growth 


of expenditures/ (a tripling in New York between 1965 and 197 ; 5) . 
Nor does it help much to single out the redistr ibutive function 
that urban governments in the United States have taken on. Undoubt 
edly some social spending has been intended to lessen income 
inequality through transfer payments and public sector employment. 

SO ; 


And without question many of these initiatives were ill conceived, 
awkward, cynical and wasteful. But regardless of the verdict 
concerning the ^distributive nature of recent urban spending,, 
it cannot alone account for the fiscal crisis. For much, if 
not most government spending was not of this type, but rather 
served the interests of large capital, or of entrenched middle 
class "producer interests" in the service bureaucracies. What 
is needed is an approach that can account for the diversity of 
demands made on urban government, rather than explanations 
that target a particular group as the prime beneficiary, whether 
it be the poor, ethnic minorities, civil servants, local businesses 
national and muxtinational corporations, organized crime or cor- 
rupt officials. 

Another promising angle on urban fiscal crisis focuses on 
the erosion or dispersal of local tax bases, contingent on the 
locational shifts of capital and residential investment. The 
migration of much industry and commerce to the suburbs, along with 
a -large segment of the middle class, has of course for decades 
been the dominant fact of Metropolitan spatial dynamics. The 
increased service levels, higher costs and shrinking 'tax base 
of New York and many other central cities have been contributing t 
fiscal strains for many years. Furthermore, recent shifts in 
private and public investment between regions of the country 
(often oversimplified as a Sunbelt/Frostbelt competition) have 
also contributed to the sense that locational factors are of 
central importance, and that fiscal stress may just be a cor- 
allary of a city's economic "obsolescence." 



111-15 4 

But no matter how serious these capital shifts may be, they 

are never simply equivalent to the fiscal condition, of cities. ^ 

As /Friedland, Piven^nd Alford write: 

American cities have experienced fiscal strains 
at earlier historical junctures at periods when 
capital was concentrating in the cities, not desert- 
ing them. And not all cities, either in the United 
States or in Western Europe, that are suffering fis- ' . 
cal strains are the victims of territorial shifts *. 
in capita! investment. ' In short, while some empiri- 
cal verification 'can be found for all of these asser- 
tions, they do not propose an explanation of fiscal 
strains commensurate with their perennial and Wide- 
spread occurrence. ^ 

There, are numerous partial explanations and it is neither .possible - 
nor necessary to "choose" among them solely on the basis o.f empir- 
ical evidence. A general theory of urban fiscal crisis that \ 
is eclectic but still rigorous would be very useful. Unfortunately, 
such a theory is still in the embryonic is tages , as an examination . 
of one major line of argument and the numerous critiques it, has 
attracted will show. ^ 

A Structural Theory -of Fiscal Crisis ( (^f\ 

One starting point, for a general theory of fiscal stress demands 
an enumeration of the functions of. the modern capitalist state, 
rather than \n analysis of particular services or levels of govern- 
ment .This is the approach taken t& the widely cite<§ framework 

' 6/ 

developed by O'Connor." In this framework there is a dual nature 
to public sector activities. On the one hand,, the government plays 
a crucial and expanding role in the economy through direct enhance- 
ment of productive capacity and the reproduction of a viable 
labor force. On the other hand,' the maintenance and legitima- 
tion of the social" order is also necessarily largely a' 'governmen- 

ERIC • * ■ 82 

j 111-16 

tal function. In performing both of these broad functions the 
state is absorbing many of the costs of economic development, 
while appropriation of the profits from that development remains 
basically private. That rule of socialization of costs and pri- 
vatization of profits is, in neo-Marxi^n terms, the hallmark of 
a capitalist state. In a modern capitalist state, such as the 
United States, fiscal crisis is an inherent tendency resulting 
from increased demands on the state and a structural incapacity 
to cover the costs of meeting those demands. 

What are the general categories of public spending, and how 
can some particular services and programs be characterized? One 
of the longstanding areas of public involvement in the economy has 
been development or subsidy of physical infrastruc- 

ture, including the transportation, utilities, and land improvements 
so essential to industrial and agricultural enterprise. These 
activities, along with government sponsored research and develop- 
ment intended to create new industrial technologies, are known 
as social investment . Social security and various aspects of 
health and education which contribute to the reproduction of the 
labor force are forms of social consumption , an indirect support of 
capital accumulation. Police and welfare (and national defense) 
are the most often cited examples of social expenses , tasks of 
maintaining order and a minimal level of legitimacy for the system. 
^ Most social expenses are directed at the "surplus population," 

those who bear the brunt of structural unemployment and who, when 
they can work, are largely* segregated in the least stable and 
least desirable jobs. 

ERIC , ' 83 

> \ 


\ 111-17 

In practice, though, few services &re pure examples of any 

\ \ 

one function, and the intermingling of purposes must be understood 
as a basic feature of many public activities. This is especially 
true of services for children. Education is clearly a social 

expense in certain situations, a gloomy "warehousing" of ghetto 


youngsters, but it is never without some connection to prepara- 
tion for the labor market. Recreation and cultural services for 
children are in a similarly split position. Various federal 
initiatives during the Depression and the 1960's made urban 
recreation a key element of employment policy and the social con- 
trol o-f youth. The origins of the municipal agencies in the 
Progressive Eita exhibit a duality of socializing "working class 
immigrant children and providing healthy, basid leisure .or 
all classes of people. The. dichotomy between a social service 
and a leisure program, which we showed above to be intrinsic to 
children's? programs, is akin to a dual role of social consump- 
tion and social expense. Even these programs then, though 
they represent only a small proportion of public spending, are 
subject to the same general imperatives as larger services whose 
goals are more frequently made explicit. , 

Perhaps the best developed and most helpful element of 
O'Connor's theory, for our purposes, is the explanation of the 
growth of public expenditures. The structural necessity of an 
increasingly active, interventionist, non-neutral government is 
convincingly argued, and its general functions are easily recog- 
nizable, if not always discrete. By establishing a plausible logic 

o I 

ERIC 81 



for the growth of government, the theory takes a burden off 
particularistic assertions of the influence of individuals or 
social groups. 

But a general structural theory runs the risk of determinism, 
which greatly lessens its value, in at least two important respects, 
First, the long-term growth of public spending has not been 
steady or automatic, nor is the growth of any particular service 
simply determined by its functional utility. There are all kinds 
of historical contingencies and counter-trends which also define 
their current situations. In the following section on the recent 
deceleration of the growth of government some of these counter- 
trends are discussed. • 

The second weakness of a deterministic theory is that it sug- 
gests that crisis is ever present. This is not true in a practi- 
cal sense, for crisis should also be seen as an inherently politi- 
cal and variable condition. While there are always conflicting 
structural tendencies toward fiscal str « n, an actual crisis, 
if the term has any real meaning, is an episodic phenomenon. It 
is a time when the conventional resolutions to contradictions do 
not work, and the conditions for fundamental change are apparently 
set. In the concluding section of this chapter some of the more 
common political elements of urban fiscal crises will be outlined. 
We shall argue that variability of government spending growth and 
of political definitions of fiscal crisis represent a middle range, 
of inquiry, between the particularistic, single-cause theories, ^ 
and the macroeconomic structural frameworks which miss so much 
of the actual content of urban change. This middle range is 

ERIC .85 




relatively undeveloped, but may be the most productive level 
at which to understand fiscal containment issues as they affect 
specific populations, such as children, and specific services, 
such as out-of- school recreation, education and culture. 
Counter-trends to the Growth of Government 

Notwithstanding the long-term trend of government expansion, 
the rate of expenditure growth in constant dollars now appears to 
be decelerating, independent of the effect of recent fiscal con- 
tainment legislation. As a 1979 RAND report concludes: 

Over the last four years, the average rate of annual 
increase for the three levels of government has been 
half what it was between 19 49 and 1975. The rate 
has shrunk the most for federal and local spending; 
only state spending even approaches its historical 
rates, and . . . it too may slow down further before 
long. (Table 3 )' L 

RAND also reports a similar leveling off of government spending as 
a proportion of GNP and public sector employment. The 197 9 level- 
ing off point represents roughly a tripling of per capita spending 
since World War II at each level of government, measured in 1967 

The RAND indicators may well have pinpointed a major counter- 
trend to the long term growth of public spending, but there are a 

number of reasons why prevailing public perceptions are still domi- 
nated by images of an expanding government. First, to reiterate, 
the downturn in the growlh r.Tte is a relatively short-term phenom- 
enon and still represents an overall absolute increase after adjust- 
ing for inflation. The high inflation rate which has prevailed 
over this period has caused the dollar amounts of government bud- 



III-' 19a 


19 39 

State , Local and Federal Spending: 

$ billion 1967) 


. A. Expenditures 
Local State 



• 7 











B. Average Annual Rate of Change (%) 

1929-1975 4.6 5.9 8.7 6.4. 

1949-1975 6.2 6.1 5.0 5.5 

1975-1979 2.3 4.1 1.8 2.4 

Source: Anthony H. Pascal and Mark David Menchik, Fiscal 
Containment: Who Gains? Who Loses? Report R-2494/IFF/RC , RAND 
Santa Monica, California, September 1979, p. 2. 



gets to grow at an even faster rate than before.* This is not 
necessarily true for the budgets of local parks, recreation and 
cultural agencies, however. As we shall see in the next 

chapter, their disproportionately large cutbacks sometimes 
resulted in absolute_xe_ductions even before Proposition 13- type 

measures took effect. 

Another aspect of the size of government is the elusive but 
important issue of productivity.' Over the last five years num- 
erous examples of higher costs per unit of service have become 
prominent. There are, in many metropolitan area school districts,- 
fewer students but more educational personnel and much higher 
per-pupil costs. The pattern of fewer direct services and greater 
overhead expenses is a common perception, if not always precisely 
defined or accurately measured. In a case study of 

service productivity RAND found that in Los Angeles 86", 
of the increase in government spending between 1973, and 1978. 
was due to inflation, higher salary levels for the same employees, 
and other factors not indicative of any increase in the level of 

services provided. And Zevin used similar data to critique 

9 / 

the structural theory we alluded to above:- ' 

* It is not our intention here to discuss the fundamental relation- 
ship between government spending and inflation, a highly contro- 
versial topic. This point concerns only the literal increase 
in the size of budgets which can be attributed to inflated currency. 




t IH-21 

[O'Connor's argument] ... suffers by comparison 
with the realities of New York's actual 
dilemma. Although municipal employment has 
doubled, it is dubious whether the actual level 
of services provided by the city government 
has increased very much. Although welfare 
and otner transfer-payment burdens have 
increased over the past ten years, the rates 
of increase have been far less than the trip- 
ling of the city's budget, and furthermore, 
the modest increases which have occurred seem 
to be more related to the faltering of the 
growth of the Monopoly Capital sector, rather 
than its progress. 

As noted earlier, children's recreational and cultural 
services were consistent with many of these trends in 'adminis- 
trative practice. The phenomenon of increased costs is really 
the product of several different factors which need to be seen 
as part of an overall pattern. The obsolete physical plant 
in older cities was being replaced at costs unavoidably much 
higher then the original land and improvements. Public employee 
salaries and benefits rose dramatically in a relatively short 
period of time. New technologies were instituted with, high 
start-up costs, but with savings due to efficiency accruing only 
more gradually. New programs begun under special ' federal grants 
were continued under local funding when that original source was 
terminated. For these and other reasons more and more money was 
spent for the same or deteriorating levels of recreation and 
cultural programming in many cities. 

Finally the incidence of state and local taxes did not in 
its overall effect support the image of "leveling off" which the 
aggregate expenditure data show. The yield from the more visible 



taxes , especially on residential property rose extremely quickly 
during .this period, due mostly to inflation-fed increases in % 
assessed valuation and a gradual shift of the tax burden from 
commercial to residential property. In some cases, most notably 
California, the state increased its take to the point of bu: icing 
a multi-billion dollar surplus. f| (Shortly after Proposition 13 
passed in June, 1978, U.S. News and World Report showed 41 states 
with some kind of surplus.—^) 

We will return to the specific case of California in the 
next chapter. Our point here is the diversity of coexisting fis- 
cal conditions: some governments have large surpluses, others 
face massive short-term debts. Cutbacks in services have been 
accompanied by unprecedented rises in property taxes. A deceler- 
ation of the overall growth rate has encompassed vastly different 
rates for various levels of government, and for localities in 
different economic circumstances. The more one searches for 
the typical fiscal crisis, the more one finds a welter of contrast- 
ing specific situc\tions. 
C risis and "Normal" Fiscal Politics 

Turning from economic indicators to political structures 
and behavior concerning fiscal matters, we find that much more 
has been written about "normalcy 11 than about "crisis." Not 

surprisingly most analysts have tended to emphasize tire ways 

in which urban governments seek a to minimize turmoil and reduce 
conflict oyer budget and revenue issues. In the broadest sense 
we can speak of two schools of thought — one "radical," often 
neo-Marxian, and the other liberal or, as has become- fashionable , 

ERJC 30 


neo-conservative. (The labels are not fixed or particularly 
important, of course, and are only rough 'indicators of ideolog- 
ical positions.) 

From the radical perspective urban political structures are 


seen as largely designed to diffuse class conflict. Sometimes 

this means that public services expand in response to popular 

unrest, but usually in a way that co-opts the most potent chal- 

lengers. Many interpretations of the War on Poverty, including 


its youth recreation component, take this approach. But 
more basic barriers to fundamental change are seen in the pat- 
tern of governmental jurisdictions itself.. Many of the most 
important activities which urban governments perform in the 
interests of economic growth (urban renewal, inf rastructural 
development, subsidies to business) are effectively shielded 
from popular challenge, or so thoroughly fragmented in a myriad 
of agencies that they can rarely become solid political targets. 
What remains most susceptible to effective political organizing 
are community services, including recreation, education, police 
and welfare, with which people have almost daily contact. 
These services therefore absorb most of the conflict, at the local 
level, while most of the factors that determine both the overall 
resources available and the opportunities for the population remain 
relatively unaccessible . Friedland, Piven and Alford summarize 
this line of argument this way: 




...over time urban governments come to be 
structured in ways which allow them both to 
support economic growth on the one hand, and 1 
to regulate'- and manage political partici- 
pation on the "other. Urban governments are 
organized in ways which allow them to absorb 
political discontent through political parti- 
cipation which is limited to agencies and 13 y 
. issues which do not impinge upon economic growth. 

Ironically perhaps s , most of the empirical research on urban 
fiscal politics has not been done by people who share this per- 
ception of structural constraints. Fortunately for us, given 
our focus on California and Oakland in particular, some of the 
most extensive analysis of these issues was undertaken by the 
University of California's Oakland Project in the late 1960's 
and early 19 70 's.—^ Meltsner, for example, asserted that in 
Oakland ten years ago, local revenue was a political problem, 
not an economic one". He detailed the ways in which, through 
judicious manipulation of "tax publics" (the constituents 
directly affected by and aware of a given revenue charge) offi- 
cials could meet their basic revenue needs without drawing too 

much political fire. Some oi these methods were already 

employed, -he argued, but many others were not due presumably 

to a lack of creativity or felt need on the part of of f icials . 

Meltsner, Wildavsky , and others described the annual cycle of the 

budgetary process in Oakland, which they saw as a routinized 

procedure of bargaining, primarily between the city manager and 


department heads. - The typical result, notwithstanding public 
posturing and even at tempts to mobilize .constituencies , was a 
small annual incremental increase in each department's budget. 


The more dramatic changes in Oakland's public., spending came from 
the introduction or withdrawal of federal programs, which operated 
by a rather different set of rules than the local budget. 

Many of the Oakland Project's findings, if not their ideologi- 
cal judgments, would appear to be consistent with the more radi- 
cal perspectives outlined above. 'Oakland's low profile tax policy, 
as Meltsner described it, suited Friedland, et al. , as "an example 
of how key public decisions critically affecting accumulation 
(the tax burden on large property owners) are bureaucratized , 
rather than politicized, through conscious political decision." 
The extreme fragmentation of local government activities divided 
between city, county, school district and numerous special districts) 
often resulted. in similar de-politicization . The massive "imple- 
mentation problems" with federal job development programs reaffirmed 
that much governmental assistance for economic growth was imper- < 
vious to popular control. In fact, as descriptions of "normal 
politics," even in as turbulent a time as the late 1960 's and 
early 1970 's, the two perspectives mesh to reveal a great deal 
about Oakland and many other American cities. 

Our problem is ascertaining the utility of these perspectives 
for understanding the particular fiscal crisis precipitated by 
Proposition 13. And here, both perspectives are less immediately 

fruitful. - 

The radical approach emphasizes that fiscal crisis is a per- 
iodic, relatively rare situation. It develops when displaced 
s8cial conflict, which has been' converted into demands on the 
government, threatens to overwhelm the mechanisms designed to 


- IH-26 

diffuse and manage that conflict. Expenditures outstrip revenues., 
and "...At these junctures capital mobilizes within the framework 
of these urban structures to declare a fiscal crisis and subdue ' 
popular' demands. " (emphasis added) 18 

On its face «Proposition 13 seems to be a very different 
scenario in many respects. It was a large surplus, rather than 
a deficit, which triggered much of the popular uprising. That 
uprising was couched in demands for less government, not more. 
And it was the opponents of the initiative (hardly representative 
of capital in /this context) who most vividly tried to "declare" 
a crisis in order to protect services. To say that the theoreti- 
cal argument fits New York City or Cleveland^ better than California 
is only to buttress our .earlier point--that there .are important 
differences among fiscal crises that are as yet not amenable to 
an overall structural theory. 

The "incrementalist" school of., budgeting and revenue is at 
a similar loss to reconcile Proposition 13 with earlier frameworks . 
It was initially a very large, highly politicized jolt to offi- 
cials (at the state- level) who, by virtue of their extensive expe- 
rience and resources, should have been able to manage "tax publics" 
quietly for years to come. Instead, some of the very tactics 
which formerly seemed so effective at reducing the visibility of 
revenues became most problematic. 

We should point out that some excellent accounts of Proposi- 
tion 13' s origins have come from observers associated with these 
perspectives. However, those accounts focus on the specific/ 

conditions in California and do not make extensive use of their 

earlier work. * - 

f\ 111-27 
"\ The next chapter focuses on the political issues "surrounding 
Proposition 13, two years after its passage. Though, as- we said, 
there are continual 'fiscal strains this situation, the first 
immediate crisis" has passed. Many administrators of children's 
services are claiming to be temporarily back in equilibrium and 
at the same time warning of an impending cataclysm by 1981-82 
(when the state ' s. budget surplus may "run out"). And, perhaps 
not so surprisingly, the theoretical approaches - which we have 
discussed 'here contribute more to an understanding of this r*ew, 
precarious state of normalcy then they did to the unusual, vola- 
tile happenings of 1978. 


ft • 


95: , 



Chapter Three 
Fo Dtnotes 


'l 3 




'.These themes are developed in detail in Victor Rubin, 
"The Historical Development of Childrens Services" 
(Berkeley: Children's Time Study-, 1980 Working 
'Paper) . \ 

By 1976-7 property taxes accounted for 33-6% of total 
local government revenues (3155 for counties, 25-85? 
for municipalities, 42% for school districts). 
U.S. Census of Governments : Governmental Finances 
1977 . ' 

Charles R. Morris, The Cost of Good Intentions: New York 
• City and the Liberal Experiment (New York: W.W.- 
Norton, 1980), pp. 172-75- 

Robert^Zevin, "New York Cit$ Crisis: First Act in a 
"New Age of Reaction, " r in R.E. Mealy and D. Mer- 
melstein (eds.), The Fiscal Crisis of American 
Cities (New York: Vintage, 1977), pp. 11-29. ' > 

Roger Friedland, Frances F. Piven and Robert R. Alford, 
"Political Conflict, Urban Structure and the 
Fiscal" Crisis , " International Journal of Urban and 
. Regional Research , L (Number 3) 5 1977, p. 44B. 

James 0' Conner, The Fis'cal Crisis <qF the State (New York 
St. - Martin's, 1973-)'. ~ : 

Anthony H. Pascal a'nd Mark David Menchik, Fiscal Con - 

tainment: Who Gains?. Who Loses.? (Santa Monica: ^ 

Rand Corporation, 1979 >, p. 2. ' 




Ibid. , p . 8 .. 

Zevin, Op.Cit . , pi£'20. 

U.S. News and World Re port , "Taxpayer Revolt: Where It's 
Sprg-ading-Now-r^Tlne 26, 1978, pp. l6-l8. 1 
y • _ * : \ 

Friedland, Op .Cit . , provide many references on this point. 

For example, Robert E. Myers, "Controlling the Poor: 

The Undeclared Goal of Public Recreation . "Ph. D . 
'} Dissertation, School of Criminology, University 
of California, Berkeley, 1974. 




13. Friedland, Op.Clt . , p. ^53. 

14. According to its Director, Aaron Wildavsky, the Oak- 

land Project was "an attempt by scholars and 
students' at Berkeley to develop a useful program 
of policy research and action in cooperation with 
Oakland city agencies. " Quoted in J.J. McCorry, 
Ma rcus Foster and the Oakland Public Schools 
(Berkeley: University of California Fress, 197«). 

15. Arnold J. Meltsner, The Politics of City Revenue 

(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971). 

16. Arnold J. Meltsner and Aaron Wildavsky, "Leave City 

Budgetting Alone," in J.R. Crecine (ed.), 
Financing the Metropolis: Public Po licy in Urban 
Economics (Beverly Hills: Sage, 197") • 

17. Friedland, Op.Clt . , p. 458. 

18. Ibid . , p. 468. 

19 For two "good descriptions of the tax issues leading 

to' the initiative see Frank Levy, "On understanding 
Proposition 13," The Public Interest , Number 56, 
Summer 1979; and Arthur Blaustein, "Proposition 
l3=Catch 22," Harper's , 257, November 1978. 

ERIC , ' 37 



On October 23, 1978, Howard Jarvis, co-author of Proposi- 
tion 13 — the California initiative limiting property taxes — was 
quest ioiTed about some of its impacts on public services: 

Reporter./" Libraries are closing in Los Angeles. 

How do you feel about that? 

Jarvis: It doesn't bother me a damn bit. 

R: Why not? 

J: Well, because most of the children they're for 
can't read. And I don't know what the hell good it 
does to have the books there. Now I understand that 
they're closing one day a week. Which doesn't bother 
me at all . I have been familiar with libraries for 
some time. Ninety percent of the time you could 
shoot a cannon through and nobody ' s there . . . ^ 

Jarvis 1 extreme frankness, if not crudeness, had served his campaign 
well, a&d in its aftermath he was free to escalate his assault 
on elected officials, bureaucrats and many government programs. 
His assessment of public libraries was, in laconic and colorful 
terms, a statement of the "marginality crisis" to which we have 
been referring. Here Jarvis questions not just the effectiveness 
of the service, but whether even children—supposedly a primary 
clientele — really care about libraries anyway. \ 

Strictivy speaking, Proposition 13 was only concerned with 
property taxes — not libraries nor the fate of any particular 
community service. Of course, in practice services themselves 
were potentially affected, and California in mid-1978 was awash 
with dire predictions of what would happen if the initiative 
was adopted. Many estimates of its consequences for children's 



services implied that JarvdLs '. low opinion of their value would be 
reflected in immediate, massive closures and cutback's. What 
has actually taken place in the two years since is neither that 
dramatic nor that simple. In this chapter we will examine 
Prpoposition 13 and its particular impact, on children's out-of- 
school services. This will require, first, a general examination 
of the Proposition 13 phenomenon as a context within which to 
explore the services of special interest to us here. 

In the previous chapter we showed how issues of urban fiscal 


stress have been described either very narrowly or very broadly 
such .that they do not facilitate the' kind of impact analysis which 
we are undertaking here. This is true of research around Propo- 
sition 13 and related "tax rebellion" issues as well. At one 
extreme, the initiative can be seen as the result of a sequence 
of specific events and circumstances, not likely to be repeated. 4 
At the other extreme it can be viewed as the culmination of 
several years of growing taxpayer discontent, and an indicator 
of a new "era of limits," not only in California but throughout 
the country. There is some truth in both of these characteriza- 
tions, for while Proposition 13 might not have prevailed had there 
not been a certain set of fiscal and political conditions in 
California, it did, touch some unappreciated, powerful and gen- 
eralized antipathy of the electorate toward government practices. 
And although the initial political momentum it generated has 
faded, it has nonetheless effectively redefined the politics 


IV- 3 

of state and local fiscal affairs. In order to understand the 
political climate in which decisions about children's services 
were (and are) being made," we must- brief ly summarize the economic 
conditions, campaign strategy and the climate of public opinion 
in California at the time the initiative appeared on the ballot. 

Proposition 13 and Tax Equity 
Property tax burdens had by 1978 become a serious problem 
for many California residents. There should be no mistaking 
the political primacy of this fact. , As a result of reformed 
assessment practices and unprecedented inflation of housing , 
values, California homeowners experienced enormous increases 
in their property tax bills in the 1970' s even though tax rates 
themselves' were mostly stable or declining. The assessment 
reform had created a uniform tax rol'l, thereby preventing future 
scandals, such as that which occurred in 1966 when several county 
assessors had knowingly underassessed downtown office buildings. 
New property valuation procedures, employing -computerized 
multiple regression formulae, enabled assessors to update prop- 
erty values, especially residential values, more quickly, based 
on recent sales data. Since the first administrative reform 
removed assessors' discretion and the second increased their 
efficiency, they ^had- little choice than to pass on some skyrocket- 
ing'' increases , reflecting the 20 percent annual rise in real 
estate values that prevailed in many parts of California through- 

, 2 

out the middle of the decade. 



Of course, the sales tax and the income tax— both primarily 
collected by the state— were also increasing their take rapidly 
while their rates remained steady. By the early 1970's, the » 
state treasury began to accumulate a sizable surplus, 
although this fact went virtually unnoticed by the general public 
until 1978. The legislative leadership preferred it this way, 
mainly because they wanted to use the surplus to eventually imple- 
ment the equalization of local school finance mandated by the 
Serrano vs. Priest court decision. Had they actually adopted a 
Serrano solution along with income-tax reform (such as indexing 
to inf lation^both of which were stymied in the legislature 
Proposition 13 would not have had such a visible target. However, 
there was, until 1978, very little pressure on the legislature 
or the governor to enact these changes. When the legislature 
feve-ishly began to develop its own tax reform plan, in response 
to the proposed tax initiative, the lawmakers' low credibility 
was too much of a liability. The hitherto invisible surplus 
became routinely described as •'obscene," and embarrassed state 
officials continually revised estimates of its magnitude upwards, 
finally above $5 billion. A Legislature sponsored tax proposal, 
on the ballot simultaneously with Proposition 13, fared poorly 
by comparison, had few supporters publicly (outside of the 
Legislature) and was rendered moot by the overwhelming passage 
of Proposition 13 itself. In effect, the Legislature had become 
an issue, and lawmakers knew that distribution of the state sur- 

ERJC loi 

IV- 5 

plus to supplant local property tax revenues— a necessary conse- 
quence of Proposition 13— would be more closely monitored than 
any previous fiscal matter. 

There is, for those concerned with equity in children.' s 
services,, a striking irony. Serrano , : whatever its imperfections, 
seemed to require some equalization by means of greater state level 
spending on schools. The' political- deadlocks which developed 
around the various equalization plans lasted several years and 
kept the Legislature from implementing any scheme and drawing 
down the- surplus. This inaction contributed -to the overall tax 
burden of Californians and to their perception of the Legislature 
as unable" or unwilling to act decisively. This enhanced Proposi- 
tion 13' s prospects, since it was the only lever at hand by 
which people could both "send them a message" .and cut their own 
taxes. The reults of post-Proposition 13 distribution, however, 
shows that "in picking up the burden... the state has maintained 
spending-per-student disparities that led to the Serrano decision. 
.It remains to be seen whether the state Supreme Court will order 
changes in state funding formulas." 3 ' Even if they do, the sur- 


plus will be exhausted by then, and a new formula will more 
likely require "leveling down" rather than up. Thus the surplus, 
once seen as a key to equalizing school finance, became a politi- 
cal liability, ultimately not even available to meet the initial 
equalization objectives. 




There are other important tax equity issues that have been 
"stood on their head" by Proposition 13, and an extensive account 
would draw us away from our primary topic. But two issues should 
be mentioned briefly, because they are rooted in the initiative 
itself, rather than in the disruption of historic state tax policy. 

First, residents receive less than half of the $7 billion 
in tax relief allocated anually by the state. As Table 1 shows, 
only 3 3.2% of the savings accrued to home owners, and 17% to 
those owning rental property (most of which -was not rebated to 
tenants). This data was used 'before and after the Proposition 13 
campaign by tax reformers arguing- against the initiative, but to 
no avail. As long as voters were receiving a tangible _benef it , 
they did not seem to begrudge business, landlords and agriculture 
thei-r share. 

The second issue raised by the administration of Proposition 13 
may- become' more politically explosive in the years to come. The 
initiative reduced the property tax rate to 1% of 1975 market value, 
plus a levy to cover prior bond obligations. The average tax rate 
across the state dropped from $10.68 in 1977-78 to $4.79 in 
1978-79. Future assessment increases are limited to two percent 
annually. However, new cons-feruction "and resales of existing 
property was to be reassessed according to their current market 
values. The median house price has risen from $70,000 at the 
"time the initiative passed to $100,000 in June, 1980. Since 
approximately 15% of the population move every year, there are 
sizeable numbers of newly assessed properties. In fact, total 
assessments have risen 9.4%, 13.8% and 17.8% in the years since 



o TABLE 1 

Distr ibution, of Initial Tax Relief, By Type of Property, 
— : Fiscal Year 1978-1979 

Initial Tax Relief As a Percent- of 
(Millions of Dollars) Total Relief 

Owner-Occupied Residential 
Rental-Occupied Residential 
Commercial & Industrial 


Source: Legislative Analyst, An Analysis of Pro position 13, 
The Jarvis-Gann Property Tax Initiative , May 1978, California 
Legislature, Sacramento, California. 

1 , 20 0 


27 . 2 





1978. Given current economic trends and assuming no change in the 
law, home buyers, within * few years, will be paying the same 

v : . . . 5 

amount of property tax tfhey .would have paid before the initiative. 

Both of these points indicate that residents are paying an 
ever-increasing 'rhare of the tax burden. This development, how- 
ever, has not yet received widespread attention, but many obser- 
vers suggest that in a few years it may become a central concern. 
The non-partisan California Journal recently summarized the 
. prospect neatly: 

Barring the appearance of some revenue bonanza, 
'the unavoidable issue f or' the 1980s will be whether 
the Legislature will* raise taxes to maintain the. 
governmental status quo. And if taxes are to 
be raised, who will be hit hardest? Before that 
can be done, however, lawmakers will be forced 
to convince the public that there is no longer 
any fat in statue and local government and that 
the reserve tank is actually empty. Undoubtedly, 
belt-tightening will take place before the 
Legislature will take the politically dangerous 
course of raising taxes. 

The best bet is that an attempt will be made 
to make a major alteration in Proposition 13. 
The obvious target will be the business sector, 
-which has been the prime beneficiary . of 
Proposition 13. As years pass, the property ^ 
tax bill will continue to shift from industrial 
and commercial parcels ot the single-family home. 
At some point, a major effort will probably be 
made to win voter approval for the long-discussed 
split-roll concept, which taxes business property 
at a higher rate than residential parcels. An 
effort will probably be made to relieve buyers 
of new homes because they are paying a dispropor- 
tiona±e share of the tax burden. ° 

What we might add is that prospective home buyers are primarily 

families with young children. The next round of the tax revolt 

may reflect a somewhat different coalition—families anxious to 



• • IV- 9' 

> * ■ 

a home in communities with adequate services for children, along 
with public sector service providers, their clients, and liberals 
intent on increasing business' share of taxes. The defeat in 1980 
of "Jarvis II.," the proposal to cut the state income tax in half, 
featured the tentative emergence of that kind of voting bloc 
(and a decidedly low profile by state officials) . 

Even if this scenario is not entirely accurate, we can at 
least be sure that Proposition 13 has begun an era of uncertainty 
and greater militancy concerning tax issues. Both because of its 
intended tax shifts and its loopholes, more questions have been 
raised than answered. In the following section we will see that 
with regard to the future of government provided services, there 
is an increasing degree of uncertainty linked to some of these 
fiscal considerations. 

■■>( . 

" * . - IV-10 

Proposition 13: A Referendum on Services? 

Early evidence during the Proposition ,13 campaign indicated that 
the public scared undifferentiated anger at government inefficiency 
and welfare largesse. Actually, however, the real "prize" and the 
focus of most voter attention was the matter of property tax 
relief. With regard to more general concerns — including the issue 
of support, for public services — the mood of the electorate was 
far from clear. The political and ideological currents were hardly 
consistent, leaving extraordinary room for any number of perspec- 
tives. To facilitate pur discussion of children's out-of-school 
services, it is helpful to review these perspectives here, 

1) Uncompromising conservative apposition to "big government" 
was not necessarily shared by many. The initiative had its origins 
in the landlord and anti-tax lobbies of California, and the ideolog- 
ical tenets of those groups held sway in the campaign leadership. 


But hard-core conservative support had not been enough to carry 
several earlier similar tax limitation initiatives. The differences 
which attracted voters of other persuasions to Proposition 13 were 
the new economic circumstances described above and the oppor- 
tunity to express the growing cynicis^n regarding normal political 
channels for tax relief. \ t 

2) Rather than eliminate services entirely, most supporters 
of Proposition 13 were enthused about the opportunity to cut the 
"fat" in government.. Fat in this context means several different 
things. First there is extravagance , or ^ostentatious and unneces- 
sary spending by public officials, generally to enhance their 



\ • , 

own lifestyle? or egos. Second, there is waste , or funds lost 
through bureaucratic inef f iciency . f Third', there are unnecessary 
services , activities which should not be pru\ided by local govern- 
ment (or perhaps/ any government). Finally, there is largesse 
in the provision of -unreasonably high public employee pay and 
benefits, and welfare payments. Proponents of the . initiative ' 
claimed that $7 billion in "fat" could be pared from budgets 
without serious cuts in the essential functions of local govern- 
ment. Public opinion* polls showed desire to cut the fat as a 
popular reason to support Proposition 13. Some forced-choice 
questions showed that this belief was strongly held, but not 
very well focused. As a -University of California research group 
put it: 

...3.8 percent of ' Calif ornians polled by the Field 
Institute in July, 1-978 felt that state arid local 
governments 'could provide the same level of serv- 
ices as previously even with a 40 percent reduction 
in spending. And when forced to choose between 
lower taxes and government services 60 percent 
of C^lifornians interviewed by CBS News in June 
197 8*opted for paying less evep if it meant 
reduced services. 7 

However, most of those who .would prefer reduced services in 

the abstract sense could apparently not easily find many targets 

appropriate for cutting" baafk . Table 2 'shows that' given a list 

of 14 state and local functions and the inquiry "Should Spending 

•for this Category Be Cut Back?" only Welfare was chosen by a major-- 

\ity°of respondents in the Field poll. The^ services which respondent 

were least willing to reduce tended to be the ones most dependent 

on 'the property tax. When after the initiative passed, those 



Should Spending for This Category be Cut Back? 

Welfare and Public Assistance Programs 62% 
Government-Backed Public Housing Projects 41 

Environmental Protection Regulations 34 

Medical Care Programs such as Medi-Cal 26 

Courts and Judges 26 
Higher Education such as University, \$tate 

and Local Community Colleges 24 

Public Transportation 23 

Street and Highway Building and Repair 23 
Public Schools, Kindergarten through 

12th grade 22 

Parks and Recreational Facilities 22 
Jails, Prisons and other Correctional 


Mental Health Programs 9 

Police Departments and Law Enformcement 8 

Fire Departments ^ 

Source : Field Institute. Published in 

San Francisco Chronicle, June 16, 1978, Page 8. 





were the most directly endangered services, many people were only 
further angered and frustrated that their message had not been 
translated into the appropriate selective trimming. 

3) The campaign against Proposition 13, featuring prominent 
politicians predicting catastrophic cuts and fiscal chaos, was 
ineffective and played into the hands of initiative proponents. 
Since the leaders' credibility was already strained by their 
belated, inadequate attempts at tax reduction, their stance seemed 
vindictive and alarmist. As the reported size of the surplus kept 
growing, the dire predictions were viewed increasingly as false 
cries of wolf, and their credibility was further undermined. 

It was a lesson well learned, and which paid anti-Jarvis II 
dividends in 1980 , when a less alarmist campaign more tied to grass- 
roots organizing was conducted successfully. 

4) The inadequacies of existing public services provided 
an effective argument in favor of Proposition 13. As noted in 
the previous chapter, most of the recent increases in government 
spending had gone for inflation and higher personnel costs, 
without appreciable increases in service provision. Schools 

were the largest and most troubled service, of course, and discon- 
tent with declining test scores, violence, busing and a host of 
other issues contributed to the allure of the initiative . Perhaps, 
some people thought, more stringent budgets will induce concentra- 
tion on "the basics" and greater administrative efficiency. Other 
voters were simply resentful of the relative improvements in pay 





which teachers and other civil servants had gained over the decade. 

5) Even the most consistent opponents of big government 
were selective in their targets. Jarvis, as noted earlier, devel- 
oped a flexible category of "property-related services" which, 
when efficiently administered, were the rightful recipients of 
the remaining property tax revenue. Police and fire protection 
and public works were always on this list, as were, at times, 
parks and recreation and sanitation. Of course, it has been a very 
long time since the general property tax was earmarked for certain 
functions, but this version of minimal government had some 
rhetorical appeal. 

Police and fire officers gave much more support to Proposition 13 

. than did any other group of civil servants. The debate rekindled 

simmering animosities among employees in various services as to 

whose work was the most essential. Police and fire services were 

formally vindicated— protected from cuts in the state's first 

bailout of local governments. Further security is being considered 

in the form of a proposed initiative that would mandate that these 

agencies be maintained at pre-Proposition 13 levels of service. 

(Estimates in Oakland are that under current funding this would 


leave less than 10 percent of the^budget for everything else. ) 
Public pre-school childcare programs, backed by a less powerful 
constituency, also garnered some protection in the form of a 
state requirement that they not be cut more deeply than the city 
or school district-wide average reductions. 


IV- 14 

6) The performance of children's out-of -school services 
of concern to us. here was not a major concern during the Proposi- 
tion 13 campaign. In suburban and rural areas, where the Prop- 
osition Won overwhelmingly, basic recreation and library prograps 
were even seen as good examples of simple, locally controlled 
non-controversial government activities. In many urban core 
cities and in most minority neighborhoods with large cities, the 
initiative did not receive majority support. These are areas 
where out-of-school programs have more explicit social and thera- 
peutic objectives, and also where the glaring inequities in 
the quality of basic service and facilities are most serious. 
People who voted against the Proposition were not expressing a 
vore of satisfaction with their programs as much as a fear that 
they would lose what they had. 

Some corroboration of -this observation can be found in the. 
survey of Oakland which we reported in Chapter 2. In that 1976 
inquiry we asked parents for their evaluation of local out-of- 
school services. On an index which combined opinions about five 
children's programs and facilities, greater satisfaction was 
associated with higher socioeconomic status (Table 3 ) . Parents 
in high status neighborhoods were nearly three times as likely to 
be completely satisfied as parents in low status neighborhoods. 
At the other extreme, while 27.2% of parents in low status neigh- 
borhoods scored 0 or 1 Cm the index, only 6.3% of those in high 


status neighborhoods scored the same. .Those neighborhoods which 
exhibited the lowest satisfaction were the most likely to oppose 

1 2 









1 Satisfaction with Neighborhood Services 


of five items) 







a- 5 

Total Sample 






20.7% 20.9% 


Hi status 

( 1 71) 




19. 7 

22.0 33.1 

Medium status 

( 1 8 2 ) 



17 . 6 


2 3.6 20.9 

Low status 

( 474 ) 




21 . 5 

16.5 12.0 

Family Income 

$5, 000 


6. 3 

21. 5 


' 20 . 6 

17.7 18.8 

. $'S;000-$9,999 

V x o *4 y 

«• 8 . 8" 

16. 8 

24 . 5 


12.2 16.9 


^ _l z u ; 

8 . 0 




28.2 7.1 


^ y v } 



21. 9- . 

20 . 5 

23.6 20.5 

$2 0,000 or more 




16. 5 

26 . 2 

19.3 26.2 







21. ~5 A 15.4 







15,9 23.4 

A sian 

( 49) 




27. 7 

26.6 26.2 

All other ; 

( 51) 





7.8 23.4 



• * 

"i IV-15 
Proposition 13, while its greatest support came from areas where 
service evaluations were more positive. Thus, in Oakland, which 
we expect is typical of other large cities in this respect, Prop- 
osition 13 could not be interpreted as primarily a plebiscite on 
children 1 s services . 

In this section we have elaborated the relationship between 
voter dissatisfaction with government and support for Proposition 13/ 
The initiative was first and foremost concerned with tax relief. 
To the extent that it recorded dissatisfaction with government, 
this took the form of generalized frustration with unresponsive 
politicians and ineffective bureaucracies. It was not a mandate 
for the elimination, or even the substantial reduction of out- 
of -school children's services. As we shall see, however, not ' 
being the object of voters' wrath has proven to be small comfort 
for the advocates of these services, which have by all accounts 
been among "the prime victims of Proposition 13." 





The Impact of Proposition 13 on Children's Services 

Much of the research about the impact of Proposition 13 was 
conducted so soon after its implementation that attention invaria- 
bly focused on measuring changes in program inputs. Given the 
early uncertainty about the amounts and forms of state aid that 
would be made available to replace lost property tax revenues, 
its particular effect on local budgqts and services was very dif- 
ficult to accurately measure. And even at this writing, the pre- 
dominant mode of analysis continues to be assessment of resource 
and budgetary constraints "caused" by Proposition 13, with much 
less consideration of the consequence of change for community 
residents and service users. In Appendix A we take the case 
of summer school to illustrate this distinction. Summer school 
was virtually eliminated, saving the state over $100 million 
annually, yet there is no systematic empirical study of what 
actually happened to the children who had been and would have 
been served. With that caveat as to the limitations of impact 
analysis, we can sketch very briefly what has transpired. 

A worst-case scenario of 270,000 public employee layoffs 
in 197 8 was offered by opponents of the Proposition 13 initiative, 
based on an assumption of no state bailout of local governments. 
Prior to the June vote, school districts throughout the .state — 
required by law to notify employees by May 14 if their jobs 
were to be eliminated the following fall — sent letters of dismis- 
sal to thousands of employee s / and many cities, counties and specia 
districts also drew up drastic contingency plans. After the elec- 
tion and passage of the initiative the State Legislature, however, 




passed a one-year bailout measure totalling roughly $4.4 billion in 

aide to localities. This state action included various restrictions 

on localities receiving the assistance, but most of these were 

successfully challenged by communities in the courts. By January, 

1979, 26,412 employees had actually been laid off, but 9,324 of them 

had been rehired. 

Agencies made most of their staff reductions through attrition 

o ■ 

and the elimination of already vacant positions. Employee turnover 
rose considerably in skilled positions, such as computer programmers, 
accountants and nurses, for which there were many openings in the 
private sector. Employee morale at all levels suffered seriously, 
because of specific changes in job conditions, reduced opportunities 
for advancement and the general feeling of community antipathy. 
Examples abounded of inefficient and inappropriate staffing arrange- 
ments provoked by layoffs and budget reductions. While the effects 
on clients were often intangible, they are still potentially very 

Still speaking in general terms, and across all affected 
public agencies, preventive services tended to suffer especially. 
From street repairs to burglary protection seminars to infant health 
screening, these kinds of cuts were commonplace, regardless 

of the future costs of such actions. The problems with 

this short-run strategy were recognized by all, but avoided by few. 
Other, more "urgent" 'services had prior call on revenues, either 
because they were mandated by state law or by- practical political 
considerations . 



A number of studies produced evidence, predictably, that ethnic 

minorities, the poor and women were more vulnerable than others to 

the Proposition's impact on services. Disproportionate layoffs 

and setbacks to affirmative action erased much recent progress of 


minorities and women in public employment. Social service cut- 
backs which affected minorities, women and many children as well 
included a year without a cost-of-living increase for^AFDC recip- 
ients, and elimination of county level programs such as battered- 
spouse shelters and rape crisis canters. A study by the National 
Association of Social Workers carefully documented all of the 
changes in human services, broadly defined, and concluded that 
"the population groups most dependent upon state and community- 
provided humar^ services. . .have been harmed'in multiple, overlapping 
and mutually aggravating ways. Especially injured have been work- 
ing women ana AFDC mothers, their children, youth, the aged, and 


ethnic and racial minorities. 

An assessment that encompassed all services to children of all 
backgrounds would have to be somewhat more optimistic. After all, 
it can be argued, the most expensive basic health and education 
services reaching the largest number of children were generally able 
to maintain their funding and levels of service. (Total funding of 
schools^s, up 8.6 percent for 1979-80; Medi Cal was up $400 million 
from the previous year; and the revised, long-term bailout bill 
enacted in 1979 included new state funding for county-based children 
health programs.) 



IV- 2 0 

As one of, the oldest major cities in California, Oakland 
(population 333,000) has a long tradition of providing significant 
levels of out-of-school services for children. Many landmarks 
of past periods of urban expansion and population change are visi- 
ble in the city— from the WPA-era Rose Garden to the Latin-American 
library, begun in the early 1970' s. % The city has been justifiably 
proud of its parks system;" the special collections of its library, 
and its new museum, each of which are generally agreed to be 
among the best, most extensive or most innovative in the country. 
The substantial public recreation program began with a few privately 
endowed playgrounds at the turn of the century, as was the case 
in many cities. It developed through the years to embrace adult 
recreation, on the one hand, and even therapeutic activities like 
juvenile counselling, on the other. 

-These services are provided by a governmental structure 
administered by a professional city manager, and'presided over 
by a Mayor and eight council members. The city has no authority 
over schools, welfare, health, transportation 'or utilities, all 
of which are governed by separate, independent local entities. 
This means that generally housing and economic development issues 
are the primary political concerns, while public saf ety^takes 
up two-thirds of the general fund budget. Recreation and culture 
has accounted for about fifteen percent of local spending, and 
. consistently attracts controversy only at budgeting time. 

The branch libraries, recreation centers and playgrounds, whose 
attendance patterns we examined in. Chapter 2, are often the only 



IV- 21 

institutions of city government with which people interact routinely 
in their neighborhoods. ' (Oakland has no police precincts or city 
council district offices; indeed, in 1981, district elections of 
city and school officials will take place for the first time,) 
There are still inequities among neighborhoods in the quality of 
these services, though the gap between wealthy and poor areas 
has- been diminished somewhat in the past decade. 

Alameda County, in which Oakland is situated, contains a 

> diverse collection of central cities, old and new {suburbs of 
various levels of socioeconomic status, and a substantial rural 
area. The large county government administers all health, welfare 

' and judiciary functions, as well as general services for the unin- 
corporated areas. It also xuns_ a library system serving not only 
unincorporated communities but several of the smaller cities, 
including Fremont . 

Fremont, with a population of 130,000 and a vast land area, 
^s in many respects a typical Western post-war suburb. This once 
rural area, now highly suburbanized , is midway between Oakland 
and Sati Jose— making for a virtually continuous strip of develop- 
ment. The city is home to a large General Motors assembly plant, 
numerous other industries, and a predominantly white middle-income 
population, consisting mostly of families with children. It has 
a fairly new and extensive public recreation and parks 

San Francisco, like Oakland, has a venerable set of municipal 
services designed" to promote culture and provide recreation for 
ERIC young people.. Several contextual -flftf ere/ices must be noted, however. 


San Francisco is a consolidated city-county government, performing 
all the functions of both entities under one Mayor and Board of 
Supervisors. Unlike Oakland's mayor, whose job is part-time and 
whose powers are limited to appointments and persuasion, San 
Francisco has a strong mayor form of government, with the requisite 
salary and staff. At the time of our study, the city had recently 
adopted district elections, which it has since abandoned. And 
while both cities are mosaics of the same ethnic groups, the pro- 
portions are different. Oakland has relatively more blacks, San 
Francisco more Asians and Latinos. Both cities have been losing 
total population for a number of years, and have been "losing 
children" at an even faster rate. 

Budget austerity measures were nothing new for Oakland and 
San Francisco, and many of the initial responses to Proposition 13 
were virtually a continuation of their recent history. 

In 1976, Oakland was forced to develop drastic budget reduc- 
tion contingencies pending the outcome of a re-evaluation of its 
pension obligations to police and firefighters. The worst case, 
based on the most stringent new actuarial figures, called for a 
budget reduction of twenty percent in the fire department, five 
percent in police and fifteen percent in most other departments, 
for cuts totalling $8.9 million. The plan called for the layoff 
of 265 permanent employess, with another 183 jobs continued 
vacant or lost through attrition. In addition, 106 temporary 
workers hired under the federal Comprehensive Employment Training 
Act (CETA) would have to be let go. This "contingency plan" 
became the center of the council's and the city's attention for 
two months, as residents argued, in effect, over which limbs to 






amputate— the necessity of an operation, having already been determined. 
As numerous people complained to the council , "you cut costs to 
the bone 'in previous years. Now you're cutting through the bone." 

The service reductions were propsed by the city manager , based 
.on suggestions' from department heads and their advisory -commissions. 
The cuts were posed as equitable and rational solutions to a no-win 
situation, and everyone was urged to unselfishly bite his or her 
share of the bullet. Despite the calls to unity, most speakers 
before the city council at the time argued vociferously that the 
cutback plan was discriminatory and counter-productive. Over a 
period of two months the council heard staff reports and public 
comment on several hundred budget reduction items, and eventually 
approved eighty-five percent of the cuts, $7.5 million , 'for the 
official "contingency budget." Services to children and youth 
were among the most hotly contested i terns. The conflicts over 
the emergency budget illustrated the increasingly precarious posi- 
tion of those services. 

The budget reduction plan exacerbated at least four types of 
conflict concerning cultural and leisure services, all of whichX„ 
had especially severe impacts' on the young. The four- areas of 
conflict included: 

- overall budget priorities, pitting public safety 
expenditures against cultural and leisure activities' » 

- a jurisdictional dispute between the City of Oakland 
and the Oakland Unif ied^School District, with each 
trying to shift the funding of recreation programs 
to the other " , 



' • , IV-24 



' /' • 

'/ - arguments over the consolidation, largely for -/post- v 

reducing purposes , of several cultural and social 
service facilities , 

>{ (a ' 

- competition, over the use .of * 'Community Development 
Revenue Sharing, 1 especially^, concerning ' its 'use as 
a supplement to operating budgets rather than fc/r 

^ capital improvements. ' 

' >f /? 

It is almost incidental to this analysis that the Cuts were mostly 
rescinded after the pension pbligations "were mitigated by passage 

of a city . referendum. . (Except , of course, for the fact that the 

* »» 

"crisis 1 ' was the means by which Voters were convinced to change the 
city charter to lower employees 1 benefits!)* But for the dynamics 
of budgeting in a "crisis" it was a dry run for 1978 from which- 
the central administrators learned a great deal. 

The initial Proposition 13 situation was comparable to 197 6 
to the Extent that the city v could : treat its revenue total as both 
exogenous and unknown at the time. Since balanced * budgets 
(required by law) had to be adopted, and it happened that the 
fiscal year began only a few weeks 'after the election, Oakland 
and 'other cities found it necessary to approve drastic Propo- 
sition 13 contingencies before the vote and without knowing 
what relief the statb would offer. These plans became the focus 
of arguments against the initiative by local politicians (if 
they became a, reality many constituencies would suffer severe 
diminution in service availability). Logically/ they kept under 
wraps all plans for increasing fees and taxes if Proposition 13 
pass'ed (the % initiative permitted local increases in fees and 
taxes as long as they were enacted before July 1, 1978.1 In the 
weeks between the election an<3 July 1, the Oakland City Council 
did institute a wide array of new revenue measures, marking a 

v IV-25 

departure from its conservative and cautious past. The "tax 
publics" most directly affected by the two largest new proposed 
taxes were slow to react but eventually influential. An extremely 
high increase in the business license tax was later lowered under 
pressure from business groups. The "employee license fee," a pay- 
roll tax disguised for legal reasons, was never implemented, due 
to demands from both organized labor and business. 

Plans to raise revenues locally notwithstanding, drastic 
budget reduction contingencies had to proceed. A weighty tome 
detailing hundreds of individual budget items in priority order 
was made available to the council and widely publicized by the 
v Budget Director via the City Manager. One level of cuts were 
efficiency oriented and deemed acceptable even under a favorable 
revenue situation, and were quickly approved. The second level 
of cuts involved a broad range of highly visible services— some 
.were admittedly consistent with long-range plans of the departments 
in questions (e.g. closing obsolete or inefficient facilities). 
The most serious proposed service reductions were those which 
would directly and immediately affect the quality of life and safety 
of Oakland residents. Many cutbacks in services to children ■ 
were in these second and third categories and were' approved by the 
council contingent on actual revenues. However, the council, 
somewhat chastened by their battle with the School Board over the 
city's intent to close playgrounds two years earlier, protected' 
those direct services to children. This made maintenance and 
landscaping the most vulnerable element of the Parks and Recreation 

ERIC . 123 


Budget. Citizen reactions to these proposed cutbacks were mild, 
compared to 1976, as none were to be enacted unless the initiative 
passed . 

As it turned out, after Proposition 13 became law, the more 
serious proposed cuts never were enacted, as the state bailout 
funds, combined with new fees and higher than anticipated local 
revenues enabled the city to suffer only a 4,5% cut. in overall 
expenditures. The general services and public works departments 
absorbed most of this reduction. The departments providing out- 
of-school children's services received basically the same size 
budgets as the previous year, and because of inflation, were 
forced to reduce maintenance but not lay off program personnel. 
The user charges instituted by Parks and Recreationmostly concerned' 
adults, and the Museum had rescinded an admission charge after 
attendance plummeted. 

In the Alameda County government the administrative approach 
to Proposition 13 created a much more highly politicized situation. 
The County sent layoff notices to 1,100 employees and warnings 
of termination to the many community-based social service contrac- , 
tors, .and ordered department heads to prepare skeleton contingency 
budgets for their discretionary programs. Unlike almost all other 
-jurisdictions, Alameda County acted as though there were no 
assurances of any state aid if the tax initiative passed. Naturally, 
employee unions representing most county workers did not appreciate 


IV- 2 7 

this strategy. The unions lobbied the Board of Supervisors strongly 

for an alternative budget that would, given any reasonable bailout, 

save most jobs, by drawing down various capital and equipment funds 

as necessary. According to one study for the Urban Institute: 

Much of the political uproar associated with the 
county-! s initial reaction to Proposition 13 is seen 
by both sides of the political spectrum as stemming 
from the Administrator's personal decisions to use 
Proposition 13 to implement program reductions and 
efficiencies that he apparently had long thought 
were desirable. J 

The consequences of this approach for the County Library could not 

have been more dramatic. It serves as a useful example here, since 

the library service, has a significant child clientele. It is poorly 

positioned to protect itself from the inordinate budget reductions. 

The county library administration began preparing in February for 

a severe cutback, and by May felt it necessary to inform the public 

that due to an imminent closing, no more books could be loaned. 

Some circulating materials were returned, but there was a great 

deal of hostility from Proposition 13 supporters, who accused 

them of political blackmail or vengeance. Most residents refused 

to believe that the entire library system would be closed, yet 

on June 24 that is precisely what happened. Only 16 of the 261 

staff members remained on the payroll., to keep the basic mechanisms 

. 14 

in order and to plan for eventual reopening and reorganization. 

Both the county librarian and the union activists realized 
that the future of the library would rest on a successful political 
organizing effort. Unfortunately, due to their different positions 
in the service structure as well as differences of personal style 
and values, .they disagreed over how to accomplish this. 






The union activists organized the Coalition for Quality 
Library Service, involving patrons and staff, to fight the 
cutbacks. They spoke to the Board of Supervisors, utilized the 
mass media effectively, canvassed communities and sold "Jarvis- 
Canned" T-shirts. «They reached out to library workers around the 
the state and became the center of a network of advocates of 
earmarked state funding for libraries. The Friends of the Library, 
traditionally a rather tame citizen's auxiliary, was similarly 
energized by the situation and staged media events of their own. 

The County Librarian has applauded these efforts and credited 
them for generating a public response that the Board could not 
ignore.' The union leaders said in interviews, however, that the 
head librarian had not kept the staff informed of developments, 
had prevented the Children's Service Director from actively 
protesting proposed cuts, and had favored administrative and 
professional staff in the layoff and rehiring process. 

The entire system was closed for about one month and then 
reopened in stages, beginning with 31 percent of the previous 
year's funding. Staff wanted to concentrate their resources in 
a few branches and provide near normal service, but the Board 
insisted that all branches be open, even with minimal service. 
Increment^ of funding were gained after further politicking, in- . 
August, September and November, when it reached ,80 percent. 
Table' 4 is the schedule of which services were to be reestablished 
at each funding level. In an article she authored, the head librar- 
ian characterized her reorganization strategy as one where "some 


\ ! : 


managerial positions have been eliminated, since the organization 
has shrunk." 15 Union members, in contrast, stressed that mainly 
clerical positions were lost, making working conditions more dif- 
ficult for those who remained. 



Costs Include Salaries and Materials 











(FY 1978) 










look mobile 





























$2 9 


60% 1 








































' 30% 












•Adm.n CoiH >nttud*i •p^ 

•O'Cufohe* Conliol—UoH. CIS' SjrUem •»»rrfu»s 

4 f 

*inter-library loan 

Barbara Gray Boyd, "The Ides of ;78" News Notes of Calif ornia , Libraries 

Volume 73, No. 1. ±yyo 





IV- 30 

These differences are far from trivial but they are less 
important than the overall fact of the system's demise and (only) 
partial rejuvenation. The library was not automatically assured 
of any future funds, and would have not regained as much support 
as it has without the intense political impact its staff and 
volunteers were able to generate. In November 19 80 the County 
Librarian retired, saying that the system was adequately reconsti- 
tuted. Whatever fiscal difficulties the library encounters in 
the future, its advocates will have some valuable political 
experience on which to draw. 

In Fremont, where reductions in County Library funding were 
most acutely felt, the municipal recreation and parks department 
was also threatened with elimination of most of its programs. 
However, the response of the administrators and residents to pro- 
posed cuts in recreation activities took a very different turn from 
the response to the library situation. 

The director of Fremont's recreation and parks department 
presided over a massive shift to a system of fees for virtually 
every class. He reported that his department suffered a 6 0% reduc- 
tion in city budget support. Remaining funds were so limited that 
monies Were available only for "safety and informational services," 
maintenance of playgrounds' and parks, and central administration. 
Classes would be offered only if they paid for themselves through 
user fees. In 1978-79, fees increased from $330,000 to $560,000. 


IV- 31 

The director's preliminary assessment was that children lost more 
programs than adults under this new system- However, he pointed out 
that because demand would determine the offerings, there was more 
flexibility in what could be undertaken, "and parents theoretically 
could pay for as many children's services as in the past. 

Since there are few very low income families in Fremont, 
recreation leadership is not expected to address serious social t issues, 
as it is in large cities. The director felt that many of the families 
could afford private recreation activities, and would actually seek 
them out because many parents supported activities for children 
which emphasize "competition, performance, and fancy uniforms." 

Fremont is adjusting quickly, but not without difficulties, 
to a new form of service provision. The director of the recreation 
and parks agency is resigned to a curtailed program, but he will at 
least try to ensure that there is a. -future for a specifically 
public service. He hopes that parents will be willing to spend at 
least some of their property tax savings on the programs which had 
previously been funded entirely out of city revenue. As he pointed 
out, support of Proposition 13 was a form of "voting with your pocket- 
book," and so is choosing a provision strategy dependent on charging 

The variqus cases we have described above typify the range of 
responses to the first year of local government budgeting under 
Proposition 13. By the Spring of 1979, communities had a year's 

/"^ 123 

IV- 32 

experience with the new conditions, but still faced great uncer- 
tainties. The state's bailout provisions were temporary, and nego- 
tiations in Sacramento over a long-term plan promised to continue 
beyond 1979' s local budget deadlines (July 1.) Revenue estimates 
were also difficult to make accurately, due to the clouded future 
of federal CETA grant categories, and the unpredictable effects of 
inflation on tax receipts. 

In Oakland and San Francisco, these circumstances accelerated 
reorganization of the budgetary process. San Francisco began to 
implement program budgeting, whereby dollar amounts are attached to 
objectives rather than traditional line items. Recreation and Parks 
was the first and only department to do this for 1979-80. In Oakland, 
major administrative responsibilities were moved from the Budget 
Director to the City Manager, and the mode of presenting the service 
reduction proposals was altered. In both cities the stated rationales 
for the charges were to' make programs more visibly responsive to 
the needs of residents and more efficient. An important result, if 
one not actually stated, was to centralize power in City Hall (meaning 
the Mayor in San Francisco and the City Manager in Oakland.)' 

In Oakland, as the first step in the budgeting process the City 
Manager, his assistants and the Budget Director determined the relative 
amounts of cuts to-be taken by each department. Then the department 
managers were given the task of preparing their budgets in terms of ^ 
five possible levels of reduction (progressively more severe.) 
Within these levels, individual items (e.g. a particular playground) 


IV- 3 3 

were prioritized. 

The City Council was then presented with a volume listing all 
the individual items, ranked both within their department (by the 
department) and overall (by the Manager ) , and asked to consider 
each item. For a part-time, unstaffed Council, this represented 
their only chance to seriously influence the nature' of the budget, 
and their only tools were the, shifting around of individual items • 
and requesting additional information. According to one council- 
member, the most significant aspect of Oakland's reorganized budget 
process was the new mode of presentation, "computerized across 
department lines, so that we could assess budget items by program, 
rather than department." Asked if that made it "a program budget 
she replied, "I don't know if it is technically, but it helped." 

In San Francisco, programs within departments (e . g . playgrounds 
within Recreation) were asked to prepare their budgets at four 
different funding levels. Once these were submitted, budget analysts 
weighted the requests of various programs within departments against 
each other, as well as setting priorities among departments. 
Program managers were assured that at each funding level, their 
package of requests would remain intact. This eliminated what a San 
Francisco budget analyst called "nickel-and-diming"-- precisely, the 
kind of minute decisions which the Oakland Council prized. 

San Francisco's incomplete ' introduction of program budgeting 
made Recreation and Parks an uncomfortable pawn in the perennial 





power struggle between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.. , 
The elaborate information system needed to make program budgeting 
effective was not in place, so it was easy for Supervisors to ask Rec- 
reation officials many seemingly simple but actually very complex 
questions about program objectives. The Supervisors did not want 
to lose their power over line items, because line items could more 
easily be addressed politically. This was particularly true in terms of 
the neighborhood level ramifications of decisions, as district elec- 
tions had recently been ..introduced and Supervisors were seeking 
to identify and fight for their district interests. Therefore, 
they were less interested in the city's "tennis objectives" than 1 -? 
in whether the courts at a particular site would be repaired. They 
believed that since such individual decisions still had to be made, 
the elected officials should help make them. 

In both cities, the administrators were designing the rules 
of the game while legislators and residents could only react. 
TheOakland Council members, elected at large, were encouraged by their 
manager to pore over thousands of individual items. San Francisco 
Supervisors, looking out foX particular items more than in the past, 
were hindered in that search for detail. 

One thing that did not change in either city was the manner 
in which residents sought to maintain children's services. Parents 
and children trooped before their elected representatives in consid- 
erable numbers, pleading (or demanding) that their particular branch 

Ek£c „ 132 

IV- 3 5 

library, swimming pool or recreation center remain open. 
Staff would dispassionately explain how the- facilities selected for 
closing were the least efficient or most poorly attended. Residents 
would . respond that easy access for children and senior citizens 
should be a higher priority than economic efficiency. Council mem- 
bers would regret having to cut anything and blame Howard Jarvis. 
One important point was that Council and Supervisors alike preferred 
to cut maintenance and supplies rather than programs whereever pos- 
sible, repeatedly upsetting the balance which department heads had 
tried to maintain. In Oakland, the liberal Council members were 
proud to have been able to move across department lines to take some 
money away from street repair and give it to recreation center staffing 
More common was the tactic employed by the Oakland Mayor, of turning 
the problems back on the residents who objected to particular re- 
ductions. "What would you cut instead?" and "Would you volunteer _ 
your time to help the children if we kept this center open?" were 
two of his favorite queries. Since voters in both cities had rejected 
Proposition 13, politicians tended toward rhetorical images of "the 
cities" versus "the suburbs", thereby minimizing the differences in 
priorities within their communities. 

Compared to years past, there was little evidence that either 
city was deliberately discriminating against the poor or minorities 
' in its program reduction proposals. Nor did many people argue 
against the near complete exemption of police from serious budget 
reductions, though investments in police "hardware" were criticized 





and in some instances cut in favor of retaining foot patrols. 

Even if service professionals are becoming less influential 
in the initial formation of budget priorities, they are becoming 
more sophisticated at organizing constituencies to protect their 
programs. Each service has its own style of politics, determined 
by its Relationship to the community. The museums rely on their 
contacts among the city'^ influential elite , and on their volunteers 
turning out for demonstrations. Recreation leaders have an "old boy 
network" from whom they can elicit sympathy and occasional favors, 
and there have always been "Friends of the Library." But, as with the 
Alameda County Library, there is, after Proposition 1'3 , a heightened 
militancy among many service workers. On balance the Bay Area lib- ^ 
rarians are currently much more aggressive than their counterparts 
in recreation. 

The women's movement is an integral part of much of the organizing 
in libraries. The union representatives J.n San Francisco and Alameda 
County, and the Director in Oakland are all associated with a Bay Area 
group of women librarians which has been working to attain more . 
access to executive pow§r and better services. 

In San Francisco the women began organizing in 1968, and later 
worked in .neighborhoods on the district^ elections campaigns. They have 
cultivated close working relationships with several Supervisors. 
In Oakland, the Director owes her job partly to pressure from women's 
groups. She was described by the business mamger of the union (a black 


. IV-37 

male) as "someone who came up through the ranks and is good at 
working with the community." She is well aware that she was hired 
to improve the library's responsiveness to the community, and that 
the City Council expects her to organize 'her constituents. Her 
experience in and strong commitment to children's services was 

also well known. 

The recreation and parks departments are not without some 
substantial political contacts of their own, of course, both in 
/ city halls and in the neighborhoods. In San Francisco they are 

well thought of by the Mayor's budget planners for their dedication 
and capable administration. The manager in the San Francisco 
Recreation and Parks Department with whom we talked was well 
known in children's advocacy circles because he had helped organize 
a protest against the closing of playgrounds. He says he attends 
meetings of hundreds of community groups, a point corroborated by 

the Mayor's budget analyst. 

While, individual administrators , or supervisors may have extensive 

contact with the community , * the departments as a whple -are not con- 


sistently involved in community politics. In Oakland, J:he admini- 
strator said that the Recreation Department ' s relationship with the 
Council would be damaged if the Department were to mobilize com- 
munity opposition to the budget cuts before the Council had considered 
them. In addition, he felt that the union representing Recreation 
workers was concerned only with salary, and that the employees had 
consequently become less dedicated and professional . " If other admini- 

ERJC * ^0 

' . ' IV- 38 

' — * 

strators share this perspective it is unlikely that they would 
organize recreation employees- as a strategy to preserve the services. 
For his part, the union business manager said that the ^library head 
kept him much better informed about the effects of Proposition 13 
than did. the Recreation administrator. 

If the political effectiveness of advocates of recreational . . 
and cultural services is erratic, at least the position of children ' s 
needs as a central concern within these, services appears to be strong. 

Most participants in the budgeting process invoked the values 
we have seen to be historically important for children's out-pf-scho.ol 
services. Social control, supervision, informal education and good 
clean fun were all stressed repeatedly. In our ' interviewing we did 
not encounter any official or employee who would subscribe to the idea 
that children had been hurt disproportionate ly by the pattern of 
cutbacks.. Said an Oakland City Councilmenber : "By now its so bad, 
its hard to tell if children were hurt worse. The North Oakland 
library has low circulation but is used after school by lots of 
children. That was the rationale for keeping it open." This is in 
sharpocontrast to a Council decision in 1976 to close a particular 
branch because it was used primarly by school children. Similar 
anecdq|$al 'evidence was offered by administrators in a variety of 
positions within the services and in budget offices. Even allowing 
for the expected def ensiveness , there is a definite trend toward more 
explicit attention to children ' s heeds wit:,- these services . 


r • 


IV- 3-9 

All of this relative^oncern for children's interests has 
taken place in agencies whose fiscal bases continue to deteriorate. •, 
Each year the enacted cuts ate never as badawl/t had been predicted. 
However,' several years of cumulative reduc£jdns of five to ten per- 
cent,' continued losses to inf lation^rt^the termination of most 
CETA jobs* has taken a severe toll; 

In April of 1980 Oakland" was weighing another 19% cut in Parks 
and Recreation and 10% in Libraries even if Proposition 9 (Jarvis' 
income tax cut) were to fail .(as it did.) All strategies for cutting 
budgets further Without closing facilities had apparently been exhausted. 
Most of the practical potential^ for increasing user fees was already 
tapped. Corporate donors and creative fundraisihg plans were running 
thin. The terms of the bailout, relatively meager for cities, were 
established and could onlu change for the worse. In fact, evidence 
suggests that the state surplus will be exhausted in another year. 
In short, municipal recreational and cultural services in Oakland 
and all other large . Calif ornia cities face a grim future, though 
children are officially a high priority. Whether circumstances 
continueto erode provision, or even lead t-o the ultimate demise of 
'the services are important questions. But more fundamental is that 
the conditions which are bringing about this unprecedented deterioration 
are clearly not being addressed. ■ 

Oakland, for example, expects' to lose 133 CETA workers between 1980 


and 19 81 in Parks and Recreation, Library and Museum services. 

IV- 40 


1. Information 13 Newslett er , (Sacramento, California State 

Library) NO. 10, October' 31, y? 1978. , 

2. Tony Quinn, "Political Consequences of the California Tax 

' Revolt 11 Tax Revolt Digest , Special Report, September, 1979 

3. Maureen Fitzgerald, "California's Future Under Proposition 13 11 

^T-ax Revolt Digest , Special Report", 'November, - 1980. p. 2. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Ibid. p. 4. ^ 

<^ r 

7 Susan Bain and Walter Park, "Resource Packet for the Workshop 

on Proposition 13 — Impact on Ilinoroties" , Uniyersity of 
California, Berkeley, Institute of Governmental Studies. 
March 2., 1979. 

8. Statement of Mayer Lionel J. Wilson, Oakland City Council 

meeting, April 22, 1980. 

9. Fitzgerald, op cit. p.2.^ 

10. Tax Revolt Digest , January, 1979,. p. 2. 

11. Tax Revolt Digest ,- July, 1979, p.l. 

12. Jack Stumpf and Paul Terrell, Proposition 13 and California 

Human Services" (National Association of Social Workers, 
California Chapter, February,, 1979.) p. 106. 

13. Berkeley Planning Associates. "Effects of State and' Local 

Expenditure Limitations on Human Service Financing: Case 
Study: Public Finance in the City of Oakland and the 
County of Alameda" (19 80, mimeo) p. 62. 

14 Barbara Gray Boyd, "The l£es of '78", NewsNotes of California 
Libraries volume 73, No. 1. 1978, p. 14 ; 

15. Ibid. p.. 16. 


16, Berkeley Planning Associates, op cit. p. 42 

ERiC . 138 

i V- 2 


In Oakland, the city whose families we >surveyed in 1976 , this disadvan- 
taged position is quite apparent. Between July 1978 (after Proposi- 
tion 13 passed) and January, 1980 real dollar funding reductions by 
the city for services * with extensive out-of-school pro- 

grams for children were as follows: 

Parks and Recreation 45% 
Museum 38% 
Library 25% 

These figures are higher than the average city service reduction (22%) 


and much higher than cutbacks in funding for police services (11%) . 
Our research indicates that these proportions are reasonably repre- 
sentative of program funding reductions in larger municipalities 
throughout the state. 

Many assessments of the impact of Proposition 13 have concluded 
that in the aggregate, municipal government services in Calif or nia ,1,, ^^^ 
remain' surprisingly uncompromised . The state surplus, the. argument 
goes, "bailed out" agencies sufficiently to avoid the 
catastrophic dislocations which had been anticipated. This may 
be true, but in terms of the services of concern to us here it misses 
two very important points: 

1. Children's out-of -school services have been in a state of 
fiscal decline for a decade so trtat Proposition 13 was not a 
unique intervention, merely another step in the historical slide; 

2) To appreciate the real consequences of Proposition 13 one 
must look below the aggregate level and consider how local 
agency strategies to cope with budgetary reductions affected particular 
out-of-school services and particular clients of. those services. 





In. the preceding sections of this report we have argued that 
in spite of higrf levels of use of many children's services provided 
by local government, -the fiscal integrity of these programs has 
steadily eroded through the 1970' s. Proposition 13 in California 
represented an acceleration of a trend, more than the commencement 
of a new era of austerity. 

We have focused on only one aspect of the public sector's involve- 
ment with young people— out-of -school services. These services ful- 
fill many of the same functions and purposes as other types of pro- 
grams : enrichment, education remediation, socialization 

and childcare. In this sense they are thoroughly part 
of the historical mainstream of local government's commitment to the 

youncK' Q 

As we have seen, out-of-school services to children have become 
especially vulnerable to the uncertainties of the local government 
budgeting process, even before Proposition 13 type initiatives 
became popular. We have argued that the vulnerability of out-of- 
school services reflects their fiscal, political and ideological 


rginality, that although they are not severely critized, neither 

do they have extensive political support. Hence, as Rubin 1 has 

written : 

In the dichotomy employed by many city managers 
between "need to have" and "nice to have" services, 
culture and recreation inevitably fall into the lat- 
ter category. Nor are the services protected by 
requirements for minimum service mandate by the 
State Education code or other laws. In short, no 
matter how efficiently or effectively the services 
may operate, they are likely to be labelled as 
non-essential luxuries which are no longer affordable. 

ER£ , 140 


We argue here that it is at this level that the impacts of Proposi- 
tion 13 on children's services, children and families has been quite 

This section begins with a discussion of post-Proposition 13 
bureaucratic responses to increasing fiscal austerity. We shall 
link this discussion to our earlier section on service utilization 
in an effort to understand the implications of these responses for 
service provision and idfferent user groups. Following this discus- 
sion we shall consider some of the longer range plans by which 
agencies and communities are addressing the problem of maintaining 
children's services. Here we will look especially at some of the 
new intergovernmental^ relations that will determine the fiscal 
capacity and political control of the services. Further we shall 
explore some of the opportunities which increased stringency may 
afford to break with tradition and broadly reconceptualize service 
mandates and provision strategies. 

Over the course of the decade and at an accelerated pace 
since the passage of Proposition 13, cities like Oakland have 
adopted a variety of strategies to cope with reduced funding levels 
for out-of-school children's services. Here we shall consider 
those strategies that are not unique to Oakland but £airly representative 
of actions taken throughout the state. Drawing on our early dis- 
cussion of service use levels, we shall attempt to deduce the impacts 
of each of these strategies on the inner-city client groups repre- 
sented by our Oakland sample. 




Site Closing 

One of the traditional aspects of children's out-of-school 
programming has been a commitment to easy accessibility . In 


neighborhoods throughout the country an extensive network of 

parks? recreation centers and libraries emerged between 1920 and 
1960. But through the 1960's and 1970 's and certainly into the 
Proposition 13 era, the continued provision of highly decentralized 
services has been questioned in many localities. The idea that 
services should be located "close to home" has become a less effec- 
tual justification in the eyes of city administrators and councils 
than it was in„the past. 

In a period of greater fiscal stringency many communities have 
begun utilizing conventional cost-effectiveness criteria for evalu- 
ating children's programs, thereby stripping away their "special 
status." For the first time in memory the recreation facilities that 
are used by fewer children and branch libraries with lower circu- 
lations, are being summarily closed. As decentralized 
services are curtailed to meet >budget objectives and to make those 
responsible for children's services apply "rational" decisionmaking 
techniques we must bear in mind two' things that were described in 
Chapter II of this report: 

A) most children who use neighborhood services get there on 
their own, unassisted by their parents; and 

B) while proximity does not entirely account for use levels 
of particular facilities , (intervening factors such as child- 
ren's interests a^id neighborhood safety also account for an amount 
of variation) most regular users of children's services live 

O nearby. < M ^ 

ERIC 142 


Hence, we can argue that site closings in response to the, new 
austerity will affect children in at least the following ways; 

A) The clientele of many services will diminish because 
fewer children will be able to get to facilities on their own. 

B) Judgments concerning which facilities to maintain and 
which to close will be made on the narrowest of criteria — e.g. 
some measure of use levels — with minimal regard to the needs 

of a neighborhood and its children and without recognizing that 
lower use levels may be a function of past progranroa tic decisions 
rather than client disinterest. For example, the fact that 
a branch library has a collection poorly suited to the com- 
. ' munity in which it is located may account for low circula- 

tion rates. In Oakland , libirary branches in this circum- 
stance have been closed even though the need for library 
services is high, given that children in these areas have 
relatively few alternative sources of reading material. The 
apparent " inefficiency 11 of these branches may be a conse- 
quence of actions 1 taken over a long period of time. But 
the urgency of fiscal constraints leads not to consideration 
of how to serve the areas 1 children but to a decision to 
eliminate the service altogether. 

C) Current policies seem to favor re-centralizing children's 
services, in direct contrast with earlier prior ities* Such 
decisions will mean that those children who are most mobile 
on their own (or who are taken places they want to go by 
adults) will" be the principal clientele for these child- 
serving agencies. Issues of need will be relegated to 

O secondary status and there will be increasing inequality in 



terms of children's access to and use of facilities and 
programs. This is' ironic given that the intention of 
many of these services is to address equity concerns. 

Staff Reductions and Program Consolidation 
Many communities have stopped short of site closings, instead 
reallocating staff in mays which have significantly redefined the 
nature of the service. Here, actions have been of four types: 

1) discontinuing specialized programs directed specifically 
at young clients; 

2) reducing full-time professional , children '-s staff; 

3) increasing the number of "non-specialized" part-time staff; 

4) reducing the amount of adult supervision at facilities 
(e.g. on playgrounds). 

The logic of this approach to the new austerity is that children 
can still have places to go, even if, once they get there, the 
scope or intensiveness of programs are much more limited than 
in the past. 

There are a great many examples of successful, specialized 
children's services that are now being phased out. Young adult 
or teenage collections in public libraries are being combined 
with general collections. Mobile vans used by museums, recreation 
and library systems to reach young people "in the neighborhoods- 
are being eliminated despite their documented success. And out- 
reach projects generally, even when funded mainly through federal 
or foundation grants, are in jeopardy when any amount of local fund- 
ing is required (e.g. for insurance) . 




This diminution of programs designed specif ically- for young 
people is reflected in staff-related changes as well. As a conse- 
quence of continuing funding reductions, in many agencies there 
are now fewer experienced professionals trained in children's 
programming. For instance, many specialized sports programs have 
been downgraded such that one leader now runs a whole range of 
activities at the same time (e.g. baseball, basketball and soccer). 
The quality of instruction invariably declines, for few leaders 
are prepared to effectively run all of these programs. Similar 
examples abound in fine arts programs where separate classes in ^ 
drawing, painting and sculpture give way to "art classes" which 
cover the gamut— less well to be sure , it is argued, but better 
than nothing. Children's library programs have suffered a somewhat 
similar fate. There are in most communities fewer trained child- 
ren's librarians on staff than before, while 

those who remain have more general responsibilities and are less 
accessible to children. 

Virtually every one of the services discussed in this mono- 
graph has suffered severe diminution of trained children's program 
staff. The consequencies of this "de-professionalization" are many. 
To begin with, the quality of children,',s public sector experience cannot 
help but suffer. Even though we cannot say that programs in the past 
were of uniformly high quality, it is clear that children are 
receiving relatively less specialized assistance today. This 
takes its toll particularly on children who use the public sector 
as a place to learn new skills. Given the relative dependence 

ERIC 145 


of children from poor families on these free public sector serv- 
ices/ the impact of staff reductions is likely to be profound. 

While some may argue that even a reduced staff with less 
motivation for and experience in working with children is better 
than total elimination of programs, our data demonstrates that 
these decisions have thoroughly inequitable consequences, princi- 
pally affecting those with the fewest options. 

Staff reductions have meant not only less specialized program- 
ming but, generally reduced supervision as well. In the earlier 
chapter on children's use of facilities and services the importance 
of safety as a factor influencing children's play patterns was 
briefly noted. Supervision, even just non- instructional watchfulness by adults, 
makes for safer facilities or at least makes children (and their 
parents) feel less threatened. Oakland provides a good example 
of the tension here. For several years the city's Parks and 
Recreation Department has, in its own budget messages pro- 
posed discontinuing adult supervision at elementary schoolyards 
after school hours. Each year the City Council has overruled the 
Department and directed that supervision be continued. Our data 
indicates the wisdom of this decision, even though that supervision 
may not be- as highly skilled a professional activity as other endan- 
gered staff functions. First, we have noted the popularity of 
schoolyards as centers of after-school play and we note that safety 
considerations influence how children feel about using the 
schoolyard as a play area. Second, many parents simply will 
not allow their children to play in areas that are not super- 
vised. Equally important, as experience . in San Francisco has 


r-n^" shown, when playground supervision was discontinued for budgetary 
reasons the number of accidents dramatically increased. This „ 



can, in part, be attributed to diminished supervision. Further- 
more our data suggests that the impact of reduced supervision is 
especially severe for girls, who •are. less likely than boys to use 
unsupervised facilities whenever safety is in doubt. 

So, while local elected officials and agency staff may try 
not to close facilities, their approaches to trimming program 

and staff have affected children's experiences at least as much, 

albeit in more subtle ways. 

User Fees 

Of all the local government responses to the new austerity, 
x^he imposition of user fees has been most widely adopted. The 
loNjic here is to continue providing services and- let the user 
bear\ some or all of the cost. Since services are not discon- 
tinued, the illusion is created that "little has changed" despite 
declining budget allocations. 

The user fee issue is complicated by questions of equity. 
In some communities the imposition of fees may have little effect 
on families or children, while in other communities it might sig- 
nificantly affect children's access. The free art class now ' 
charges $2.00 for materials; the recreation center soccer team 
charges $5.00 for transportation to and from games; the library 
charges an annual registration fee, and so forth. In a wealthy 
community, such "pay your own way" policies may not be problematic 
On the other hand, our Oakland data suggests that this is not the 
case in a city with a large poverty population. Here we hit upon 
one of the especially powerful impacts of Proposition 13 that can 
be detected only by exploring program changes as they affect .par- 
ticular populations within communities. In Oakland, the intro- 



duction of user fees is sufficient to drive away a significant j 
number of potential clients^ The data on use of recreation center 
programs in Oakland (Chapter II, Table 5 ) makes the case clearly. 
Children from lower income families constitute a very large pro- 
portion of users of free services. When fees are charged, a dif- 
ferent profile of the clientele emerges. In Oakland, while a 
sufficient number of clients may be found to warrant providing a 
fee charging recreation center program, the children who are most 
dependent on free access may be excluded. Hence, one of 

the more insidious consequences of the new austerity is the 
de gree to which the traditional commitment to the less privileged 
is being undermined. From our data it is quite clear that as 
services with large Ipw income clientele introduce user fees 
those children are, less likely to continue to participate. While 
it may then be the case that there is "no change" in the number of 
programs offered (i.e. that classes, activities and programs are 
maintained) there "is likely to be real change in the composition 
of the clientele. 

User fees are not new to local government. Fees for such 
things as business licenses, zoning permits and adult recreation have long been 
standard practice, and have been increased in the wake of Prop-, 
ositibn 13. This recent proliferation of fee charges is touching 
many children's services, both in and outside of school for the 
first time. The level of concern this has generated is illustra- 
ted by the request by the California State Assemply for a 
report from the Auditor General on the Extent of fee charges by > 



schools and local govfrnmerit agencies for programs involving 

children. Implicit in this inquiry^was a larger problem raised 
in a report by the League of Women Voters of California: "Are 
government services gradually shifting' to programs only for middle 
and upper, income residents?" 4 m The issue is less that uS^r fees 
result in programs ecplicitly designed for wealthier residents, but rather 
that the programs are really only accessible to them — thereby 
creating implicit provision biases. 

Private Sponsorship and Privatization 

As cities have struggled to^aintain credible children's 
programs they have at times made direct appeals to private enter- 
prise to take some responsibility for actually funding ^services . 
At best, this strategy has temporarily saved programs and at the. 
same time given visibility to /'public spirited" corporations, 
a .bu^ness and -philanthropies that fill the breach. 

Several examples of these sponsorship effort^are as follows: 
, The East Bay Regional, Parks District found several companies 
(many fewer than hoped) to "edopt-a-parjc" b Y paying their maintenance 
expenses (closures were otherwise threatened); concert impresario, 
Bill Graham, organized a benefit rock concert to "save" the. San 
Francisco Public Schools Iriterscholastic Sporfes program; and the 
Bank of America contributed funds id the city- of San Francisco 
.to keep playgrounds open and staffed during tha summer of 1978. 
There are, of course, ma-ny other examples that could be recounted . 
One problem, however, is that these sorts of contributions tend to 
be on a one-time basis, so that the services themselves remain in a con- 
tinuing state of limbo, not knowing hew or whether they will be maintained. There is 


a great amount of effort required to solicit .donations, and public agen- 
cies have nQj: had the staff capacity to utilize these possibilities 
extensively. Also, greater reliance on corporate donations shifts 
some decision over program priorities to the private sector. This 
move, however unintended, could eventually have serious conse- 
quences for the kinds of opportunities available to children and 
the degree to which parents. and residents have any control over the nature of 
° ffer;t Re S ductions in services and staffing, uncertainty about, future 
funding and the imposition of user fees have resulted in a degree 
of privatization in children's out-of-school time use, particu- 
larly among wealthier families. The issue is in part one of options. 
If a child" from a higher income family is taking a painting Class 
into public recreation center and a- fee is introduced or the class 
is discontinued, his or her parents can, if they want, either pay 


the fee or find a comparable private sector offering. The key 

is that these families have the resources with which to make choices. 

Others do not. From the data presented in Chapter II, it is clear 

that materially advantaged children are' less dependent, on the public sector 

as a source of after-school programs and activities (regardless of their use levels; 

In a sense, encouraging privatization solves certain problems 
for local government agencies. If potential clients who can afford 
'to pay fees turn to the private sector for programs, a drop in 
demand 1 can reduce the cost-effectiveness of the public programs and 
provide a reason for "no longer offering certain programs at all. 
' The distinction between those who can pay for services and . those 

who cannot, those who have choices and those wh*> do not, is likely 

to be exacerbated in -the future. -While higher income suburban ccnrnunities , with 

™k ■ ' '■ ' 150 


more homogeneous populations, may find that the introduction of 
user fees does not undermine the demand for services, our data 
indicate the heterogeneous big cities are faced with a far more 
complex provision problem, given the breadth of personal circum- 
stances that characterizes their clientele. ff fees are intro- 


duced or program specialization reduced in the public sector, 
numbers of potential clients may look elsewhere for services. 
Rather than the historical relationship of complementarity betweeen 
public and private cultural programming, competition, with the 
public at a disadvantage, may become more common. Price parity 
or near parity may, in the end, turn those who can afford to pay 
for services to the private sector, leaving a leaner set of serv- 
ices more costly than ever, to children from families that are 
less able to afford them. 

Short-term Responses to the ^ew Austerity Summarized 
This brief survey of current strategies -co combat the new aus- 
terity Suggests an uncertain future for children's services. Of 
special concern is the equity consequences of these decisions for 
children as a group and among children of different circumstances. 
The public sector has had, as a fundamental mandate, provision of 
services for those least able to find alternatives. Evidence indicates 
that in the Short run, the adverse consequences of this reorgani- 
zation of services have fallen most directly on children and fami- 
lies with the greatest need and the fewest alternatives. 







The Changing Political Environment of Children's Services 

This period of fiscal stress is profoundly effecting the 
politics of children's services. We can identify three broad aspects 
of that environment and outline some of the possible impacts and 
consequences of the ongoing austerity . 

The politics of the budgetary process pose serious limitations 
on activists committed to changing the nature of children's ser- 
vices. Most parental political involvement with children's 
out-of-school services today is defensive — intended to protect 
or conserve existing programs, nothing more. In most cases the 
objective of this activism is to conserve the integrity of a 
single program or preserve a single facility. At times, as we 
have seen, the issue can become very big indeed, as when 
library workers and supporters in Alameda County were forced 
to defend their entire service. This is not to say that many 
parents and service professionals do not Worry about the quality 
or the substance of the programs that they do provide. But in these 
difficult times. -the issue of simple survival has necessarily 
received most attention. 

The new austerity has highlighted important differences 
in types of political activism. Responses to the current crisis 
in the communities that we have focussed on here tends to diffuse 
conflict and reduce the possibility of fundamentally changing the 
nature of a service. Large problems (are the available services 
meeting the needs o^ child clients?) give way to small or narrow 
ones (is the money there to continue providing what is now available?,) , 

1 52 


public input and critical legislative examination focus on a 
narrow range of "tradeoffs," and organizing around larger demands 
or needs is virtually suspended. 

As long as advocates for children's interests respond in 
this way, they will be unable to alter— or successfully cope with— 
this new political reality. As long as the principal issue 
is conservation of existing services there will be no careful 
consideration of the goals, objectives or actual impacts of 
programs and agencies. Perhaps more problematic, to an extent 
the fiscal crisis has persuadod some parents that it no longer 
makes sense to look toward the public sector for meeting certain 
everyday needs of children. Indeed, some fortunate few have "withdrawn" 
to seek services exclusively on the private market. On the other 
hand, there has been some healthy reorganization of political 
coalitions. For example, we have seen how public employees and 
parents in Alameda County worked together in a kind of issue 
based effort that helped to overcome some of the traditional 
structural barriers inherent in urban politics. 

The Future of Local Government 
We have emphasized the fact that out-of-school services 
for children have long been provided principally by local government 
agencies. Now that tradition is being tested— pulled in several 
directions at once. On the one hand, the state and even the federal 
government are assuming more financial responsibili tv for these 
services. On the other hand, there is an increasing number of 





privatized alternatives, from commercial to not-for-profit programs. 
And there is also pressure on parents, mainly mothers to become 
more "self-reliant" and take responsibility for managing their 
children's out-of-school time- Ironically this is occuring 
just when more families with two working parents, or single 
parents^, are demanding publicly provided care and publicly spon- 
sored children's activities. These developments could lead in 
any number of directions. 

For one thing, we must ask whether there is anything 
inherently sacred about the provision of children's services by 
local government, especially if state bureaucracies or decentral- 
ized private entrepreneurs could do much the same thing. For 
instance, would state or federal funding for libraries (as has 
been proposed) overcome the fiscal dilemma and promote service 
equality and high quality service? Would a voucher system for 
out-of -school culture and recreation services promote pluralism 
and greater efficiency in service delivery. 

These are, at the moment, more theoretical questions than 
urgent issues demanding resolution. The State of California, for 
instance , has expressed very little interest in managing out-of 
school programs, even programs to which it now gives support. 
The state fiscal bailout has been organized along the lines of 
revenue sharing, with few mandates. However, there is every reason 
to expect that as state funds become more scarce, these programs 
will come under ever closer scrutiny as the competition for 

er|c i5 4 



monies grows. As we have noted, various children's services have 
been lobbying for earmarked shares of state revenues, and out-ipf- 
school services do not currently have the political base from 
which to argue for these kinds of funding assurances. As for the 
voucher concept, it will probably not emerge until the fate of current 
school voucher plans are decided. Since the services are basically 
voluntary to begin with this would be a much less dramatic, if 
more practical voucher experiment. Also, the market for profit- 
making out-of-school programs has not proven to be especially 
vigorous as yet (although it may be too eariy to tell). Experiences 
with day care and summer school (see Appendix A) show that private 
sector ventures often overestimate the potential profitability 
of children's programs. 

At the very least leadership among children's services 
professionals must learn from their school counterparts and become 
more aggressive entrepreneurs themselves. For the fact is that 
whether these kinds of activities remain serious endeavors of the 
public sector at all will be one of the significant questions 
facing local government officials in the next few years. 


Out-of-school children's services have been a major casualty 
of Proposition 13. After two years they are just now beginning 
to respond to its challenges. We can only understand the 




immediate impacts of fiscal constraints by looking at how part- 
icular populations have^en ^fected; and also by recognizing 
that some families and^chil&lfen are more reliant on the pub- 
lic sector, hence more vulnerable to the consequences of 
service reorganization or diminution. The long term challenge 
for children's out-of-school services should not be merely to 
survive the attrition that Proposition 13 has accelerated. There 
should be renewed committment to the largely unfulfilled promise 
of these programs: to improve the quality of children's lives; 
to enhance children's individual life chances; and to meet the 
increasingly complex and pressing service needs of families 
today. At their best, these services can contribute toward these 
ends. And indeed, this is what must be encouraged. 





Despite rough maintenance of the status quo, Proposition 13 
has nonetheless been called a mixed bag for children, in part because 
out-of-school childrens programs have suffered severely. At the 
state level, libraries, parks and recreation, cultural institu- 
tions and summer school had few effective advocates. Even a small 
legislative appropriation ($18 million) earmarked for public 
libraries was vetoed by the governor , despite their having suffered two 
years of serious cutbacks. While there is clearly a role for the 
state in supporting these kinds of services, to date, with the 
exception of summer school, almost all the relevant decisions 
have been made at the city, school, special district and county 
level. Consequently the rest of this chapter will describe actions 
taken at these levels of government since the passage of Proposi- 
tion 13 — focusing principally at developments in three localities. 
Supported by an exhaustive review of reports and interviews 
concerning children's out-of-school programs in scores of Califor- 
nia communities (see Appendix C) we are persuaded that the analy- 
sis presented below reflects most of the actions and responses 
to Proposition 13 at the city, county and special district levels 
of government. 

1 57 



Chapter Five 

Victor Rubin, "Living yttth Less: Proposition 13 and Children's 
Services," in Kathfyn Cirincione-Coles , editor, The Future 
of Education: Policy Issues and Challenges (Beverly Hills, 
Sage Publications, 1981), p. 134. 


2. Oakland, California, Office of the City Manager, "1979-80 

Budget Reduction Alternatives." Mimeo 

3. California Legislature, Joint Legislative Audit Committee, 

Office of the, Auditor General, Report 9 32, December 7, 
19 79. In this report many of the issues concerned the 
constitutionality of requiring public school students 
to pay fees for participation in school programs and 
activities (required or not). By way of example, various 
related, publicly provided out-of-school activities 
were also examined. 

4. League of Women Voter/; of California, State-Local Government 

Relationships: Study Guide II (San Francisco: LWV, 
February, 1980) , p. 20. 

J 58 


Appendix A 

Summer School in the Wake of Proposition 13: 
" Ancillary Educational Services under Fire 

[While much of the post-Proposition 13 research has concluded 
that its overall ^impact on the provision of human services has not . § 
been as severe ^s anticipated, there is agreement that California's 
public summer school program has suffered severe cutbacks — virtually 
all state monies for the program were withdrawn in 1978. This appen- 
dix explores the history of the California summer school program 
before Proposition 13, comments on its current status and examines 
who has been affected by the diminution of services. 

Between 19^52 and 1977, in 4 twenty-five year s 1 time, the State of 
California built a large, formidable summer school program serv- 
ing well over one million elementary and secondary school age chil- 
dren annually. .. In 19-78, in one trip to the polls California voters 
passed a tax initiative which ,.. among other things, led to the 
complete dismantling of the program. 

How and why this happened, and what the impact has been on 
children and families the subject of this appendix. 

Summer School in Historical Perspective 

Although summer school rests comfortably in the world of the 
educator it has an uncertain tradition marked by imprecisely defined 
objectives and poorly documented impacts.. 


The first summer school programs date to Boston ir. 1866 . These 
"vacation schools" were originally viewed as a way to keep children 
from the dangers and temptations of the streets. "Their chief function., 
was to keep the children who attended, pleasantly and perhaps 
profitably occupied so that they would be removed f rom^undesirable 
influences to which they would otherwise be exposed." 


'Through the middle part of the nineteenth century, principally for 
economic reasons, the length of the school year declined from 
225-250 days per year (in other words nearly year round) to 180-200 

159 • 



Early summer programs were not, for the most part, actually 
provided by the schools. Rather, with a kind of welfare spirit, 
urban social and charitable organizations promoted summertime 
services, in large measure to provide clean, healthful environments 
for children growing up in tenement housing and in unsafe areas of 
cities. The vacation school movement spread quickly thtough the 
Northeast and by 1899 twenty cities in the U.S. operated elemen- 
tary level programs.— ^A major shift in locus of control and sponsor- 
ship occurred during the 1890 ,% s. As the movement took root, pri- 
vate and quasi-private agencies often found that space requirements 
exceeded their facility capacities (churches, settlement houses, 
etc.). Public school officials were called upon to assist. In 
the space of a few years, this collaborative relationship became 
commonplace. By the turn of the century many cities were not only 
providing \ space, but they were also contributing \funds to help 


suppor r t^ summer school programs. 

As with the recreation movement at the turn of the century, 

initially programs were sponsored by private sector agencies, but 

were incorporated into the public sector as they grew and matured — 

in this case they came under the control of the public schools. 

By 1925 it is estimated that 20% of school districts in the more 


populated states had elementary level summer programs-. 

In the early 1900 's the provision of summer programs was 
justified on many grounds, not solely for the purpose of providing 
children with a safe place to go during the day. The arguments in 
favor of summer school were often based on assumptions about the 
positive effects of increased exposure to schooling, although 




there was little corroborating evidence. Many school districts 

introduced summer school with this explicit educational agenda — 

to help "backward 11 students catch up and to give "bright" students 

a chance to get ahead-^. Refinements of this proposition underlie 

most summer school efforts today. Many school officials speculated 

that summer programs could diminish summer learning loss, which was 

recognized as a problem even early in the century. But 

even at athat time there was little or no data 

available with which to demonstrate that summer school was support- 


ing the regular year program in this manner- . Even so, by the 
1920 f s the intellectual underpinnings of summer school we^e well 
in place and the objectives had shifted from amelioration of the 
conditions of urban life and to enhancing or remediating children's 
learning skills. 

Growth in summer school programs continued through the 1920 ' s; 
however, its popularity declined drastically during the Depression 
years. Many cities eliminated programs to reduce spending indicating that the 
relative marginality of summer school was already quite clear. 
In addition concepts of educating the young were in transition and 
the idea of summer school was no longer in vogue. In 
fact, it was not until the post World War II baby boom that a sig- 
nificant public demand for summer programs re-emerged, coupled 
with renewed interest amonej professional educators. 

Program Growth in California 

As in other parts of the country, the early summer school 
movement in California was dominated by urban interests when a significant 


commitment emerged in the decade 1910-2 0. 

From the beginning virtually every community adopting. a program did 
so at public expense and exclusively in public settings (unlike ° 
the Eastern history) . Fresno has operated a program continuously 
since 1921, longer than any other city in the state. It should 
be noted , however , that because the summer school movement devel- 
oped at a late date, it was linked philosophically 
to prevailing educational objectives more than it was to any 
social welfare agenda. Since there was no uniform reporting 
system until the early 1950' s, it is difficult to. know how many 
districts had programs although growth appears to have mirrored 
the national experience for the three decade period '1920-50 . 

In the context of California educational history, summer school 
matured as the postwar baby boom triggered extraordinary growth 
in the state's schooling programs. In political terms it was not 
a controversial issue, viewed as a reasonable elaboration of 
schooling services supported by the state education bureaucracy, 
administrator and teachers' groups and legislators (bi-partisan) 
alike. — 

Ironically, however, it was not educational but fiscal factors 
that stimulated widespread program growth. In 1953, as part of an 
effort to encourage districts to sponsor educational summer programs 
legislation was passed which permitted school districts to count 
summer school a.d.a. (average daily attendance) in calculations of 
total attendance , on which state revenue contributions were deter- 
mined. In other words, school districts could run summer programs — 


a reduced day schedule with comparably reduced co'sts — and count 
eacha.d.a. as equal to a "regular" school a.d.a. for revenue purpose 
The advantages here were rather clear and its impact immediate. 
It was a fiscal bonanza. (An extensive literature search and discus- 
sions with several legislators in office at that time did not shed 
much light on the purppse of setting the formula in this way. With- 
out doubt, however, the legislature did not expect districts to 
utilize the program specifically for fiscal reward, although this 
was obviously an inducement.) 

In 1954 (the year after the State adopted' summer school 
reporting and application procedures) 119 districts operated summer 
school programs. This grew to 147 in 1956; 174 in 1957; and 237 
in 1958. The number of schools with programs increased 119% dur- 
ing this period. In one survey of 129 districts 69% that had pro- 
grams in 1957 established them between 1952 and 1956. By 1970 an 
extraordinary proportion (nearly 20%) of all enrolled K-8 public 
school students attended a summer session in their community. 
This rapid growth was attributed not^ just .to the availability 
of state monies but also to post-war suburbanization (children's 
summer recreation needs were not well met by many fast growing 
cities) ; and to growing recognition among educators that many 
children had learning problems and needs that could be attended to, 
often in unconventional ways, outside the regular school year-. 

There are few studies of California summer schools and their 
relationship to the larger educational system. One of the more , 
comprehensive analyses, a survey of 147 districts was conducted 

« ♦ ** 

' " '6 
in the late 1950' s-^. Among other things this study documented 
the reasons' why districts started programs; it explored the curricu- 
lum of summer programs; and' it described how administrators felt 
about the programs and their impacts (see Tables 1, 2 and 3). The 
author concluded that the activities, services and curriculum were S ^ 
broad, tending to promote the social, 1 physical, emotional as well as 


intellectual growth of children. Tphere also was some evidence that 
district's used the time to develop curriculum and experiment with 
innovative teaching methods. 

There is little evidence "that either the nature or purpose of 
summer programs have changed very much since the time of the survey. They 
have, however, growi/TVeat deal. In -this regard ESEA Title I 
offered many districts- • an/important opportunity to expand their sum- 
mer school efforts, particularly around remediation and enrichment 
opportunities forUihe disadvantaged- . 

The more recent history of 'summer . school in California cannot 
be 'understood without reference to the changing fiscal conditions 
of the. public schools. Through the early 1970's,"as school enroll- 
ments and tax rates peaked, summer school became a very important 
revenue-producing, vehicle . --In California 660,000 children, K-8 grades, 
attended .in 1972— rising to 860 , 000 in. 1977', or 30% of all K-8 
public school students. In 1977, 33%" of K-8 public school students 
were enrolled in summer programs. 

The substantial expansion of summer school in the 1970' s is 
clearly shown in Table 4. Not only did the proportion of K-8 
children enrolled more than double, the "real a.d.a. increased by 31% 





Reasons for Starting First Summer School in District 

Number of 

Reason for Summer Schools Districts Percent 

Help children needing additional 
basic educational experiences 

Enrich - regular program 

Remedial problems 

Parental request 

Give needed summer supervision 

Help children with reading problems 

Staff and community interest 

Give emergency teachers and student 
teachers experience 

Eliminate much retardation 

Help pupils behind in school work 
due to illness or transfer 

Needs of gifted children 

Provide a continuing program 

Started when district eliminated 
mid-term promotions 

Provide additional opportunities for 
children who want to learn 

28 21.7% 

26 20.2 

19 14.8 

17 13.2 

11 8.6 

11 8.6 

8 6.2 

Provide additional use of buildings 5 3.9 

4 3.1 

3 2.4 

3 2.4 

3 2.4 

2. 1.6 

1 -8 
Offer laboratory for summer conference 1 - 8 

To provide for experimentation 

1 .8 

To meet the needs of children 
Nutritional and recreational needs 

Number of Districts 129 
^Seventeen districts listed two reasons 

1 .8 
1 .8 

1 .8 

Source: Ronald E. Notley, "The St.- ".us of Summer School Programs for 
Elementary School Children in California" (1959) . 

ERIC 165 





Subject Offerings 

in the 

Summer School 


Enrichment Program 


Niamber of 


Physical Activities 
Physical Education 
Folk Dancing 

Interpretative Dancing 





Music Education 




Art Education 

Arts and Crafts 






Science Education 
Science i 
Nature Study 

Science and Nature Study 
Elementary Physics 



1 ■ 1 





Creative Arts 
Stories and Poems 


\ 1 
\ 3 
\ 2 



Education of Exceptional 
. Cerebral Palsy 

Mentally Retarded 


j Physically Handicapped 


\ 4 




3 '\ 

3 \ 
1 \ 



Handicrafts and Home Arts 
Shop 1 
Foods and Homeimaking 
Home Mechanics 
Social Living 



Foreign Language 









Typing ! , j 




Number of Districts 

*Source: Notley (1959) 








\ TABLE 3 

Chief Strengths of Summer School Program 

Number of 

Nature of Strengths Districts Percent 

Improves general academic achievement 34 26,4% 

Enrichment opportunities 29 22.5 

Concentrated remedial program 23 17,9 

Helps special or individual children 17 13,2 

In-service training for teachers 13 11,0 

Parents like and want it 10 7,8 

Improves reading * 

9 7,0 

Worthwhile recreational activities 9 7,0 

Relaxed atmosphere between pupil 
and teacher 

5 3.9 
4 3.1 

3 2.4 
2 1.6 

Provides for gifted 

Change in pupil attitudes 

More use of school plant 

Aid to slow learners 2 !- 6 

Children come because they want to 2 1.6 

Provides worthwhile summer activities 1 -8 

Helps solve adjustment problems 

Provides teachers with opportunity 
to earn more money 

1 .8 

1 -8 
Assists in social adjustment 1 - 8 

Number of Districts 129 1 

*Thirty-seven districts listed two strengths 

Source: Notley (1959) 






in Summer School 

Program Provision and 


in California 

n nil 

\ i y / 1 

— 1 Q 7 7 \ 

— ±j II) 








NumDer or Lounuies 
with Programs 








Number of Districts 
with Programs 









a.d.a. (statewide) 
(by grade level) 


01 poo 








1 I 1 QQQ ^ 
X X X O O O 








Q 7 Q 9 1 








Q 7 ^ 7 6 








)7 OO JO 
















a O O C yl 

bo j j4 

7 o ^ n £ 
/z jUo 


1 09739 










d A A A Q 











654 , 760 


679, 714 

738 , 114 

825 , 787 

841, 818 

Percent of K-8 
a.d.a. enrolled 
in summer school 

20 . 7% 



24 .6% 




*a.d.a.= average daily attendance 

Source: California, State Department of Education, Calif ornia -Public Schools: 
Selected Statistics (19 71-77). 






in this seven year span. During these years, well over half- the 
total summer school enrollment was in the K-3 grades. We can attri- 
bute these increases to at least the following factors; 

1. Parents and school professionals generally were begin- 
ing to support the idea of an extended year school program. The 
reasons for their support were many and varied — sometimes educa- 
tional , sometimes not. Furthermore , attachment to the ten- 
month school year waned as fewer parents argued that children 
"needed a rest," or ''that schooling during uhe summer -made family 
vacation planning too difficult. 

2. Increasing maternal employment made summer school oppor- 
tunities for children attractive to many parents. It was a healthy, 
safe place for children to go at little or no cost to families. 
This may account for the high proportion of young children (K-3) 
attending programs. These children, after all, are less likely to 
be attending by choice and relatively few were enrolled by parents 
specifically for remediation. 

3. Although working with little hard data, school professionals 
remained persuaded that summer school offered a supportive 
climate in which to deal with problems of learning loss and reme- 
diation. This becamV^near universally accepted premise underlying 
the program. . 

Despite these factors — each helped to increase the state tf s summer 
school enrpllment— through the 1970 *s some legislators charged 
that districts were principally interested in boosting attendance 
only because of the generous a.d.a. policies. 




In June, 1978, Proposition 13 appeared on the ballot. The 
election took place just days before summer programs were scheduled 
to begin in school districts throughout the state. The legisla- 
ture, preparing in advance for the possibility that Proposition 13 
would pass, had amended the Budget Act of 1978-79 to read that, 
if the initiative was approved, the broad guidelines under which 
school districts organized summer programs were no longer operative, 
and state supporte d summer classes vere to be limited only to 
courses for high school seniors needing credit for graduation and 
special programs for the .handicapped- 7 . Under Proposition 13, 
districts were to be prohibited from counting 1978 summer school 
a.d.a. for state revenue unless sessions were completed by June 30,1978. 
As a consequence of this action, when Proposition 13 passed ,- almost 
every school district in the state discontinued general summer 
services. Attendance dropped to a miniscule .7, 380 a.d.a. statewide. 
In effect, the state terminated its support of summer school and 

services disappeared ' virtually overnight. This ' 

-raised some important questions: 

1. Who was affected by the termination of summer school 

services, and in what ways? 

2. Have communities filled the breach with other services? 

3. Why was there no effective lobby for summer school in 
anticipation of Proposition 13? How deep was public support for 
the summer school program? 

4. Was summer school particularly vulnerable to Proposition 13, 
or are there larger, more fundamental considerations at work that 
might also affect other school/cultural/recreational services for 

children in the future? 

ERIC 17 'I 


On the Question of Program Impacts 
For all practical purposes there is no longer a summer school 
program in the California public schools. In 1978, because classes 
were cancelled just days before they were to have begun, parents 
who had organized their children's vacations around it were confront- 
ing especially troublesome dislocations. In contrast, in 1979 there 
was no such upheaval. The public knew there would not be a program. 
In the Post-Proposition 13 era, summer school 

was no longer a free, community-provided service for children. But 
to understand the responses in 197& and 1979 more detailed con- 
sideration of impacts and community actions is necessary. 

1978: Dislocation with Unexplored Implications 

In 1978 summer school classes were cancelled because districts 
could no longer be able to claim summer a.d.a. as a part of the 
state aid calculation. Provision of programs would be a 100% cost 
item, generating no revenue. Of all community services, summer 
school had the dubious distinction of being hit first and hardest 
by Proposition 13. Across the state classes were promptly cancelled. 
Not surprisingly, at this very late date, many families had difficulty 
finding summer activities or programs for their children. A major 
question raised by school officials and parents throughout the 
state had to do with alternatives— or lack of them— for children during the summer. 



i 72 


In Los Angeles, 371,000 young people were affected, (and 


7, 300 teachers were without jobs for the summer). — Some legislators 
responded tnat these concerns demonstrated that summer school really was 
a kind of "frill." Summer school, they argued, was little more 
than organized babysitting at public expense, hardly central to 
the educational enterpr ise . — ^ They viewed the dislocation—a 
consequence of sudden cancellation — as a problem for parents only 
in that they would be forced to find other care arrangements. The 
instructional dimension of summer school, according to this logic, 
was of secondary or tertiary import to most families. To these 
legislators, the estimated savings ($107-180 million) was signifi- 
cant and certainly in the "spirit" of Proposition 13. 

In the Bay Area only 9 of 110 school districts proceeded with 
summer school plans. Generally, where programs were held under pub- 
lic school sponsorship, attendance was limited to graduating seniors 
who needed one or two credits in order to complete required course 
work. Some communities attempted to organized f ee-f or-service summer 
schools, provided under the auspices of school districts using 
public facilities. Wealthier suburban districts were somewhat 
successful at organizing part-day programs for one month to six 

weeks, at fees ranging as high as $75 per class. A pay-as-you-go 


program in Los Altos drew 1/100 children for example. 

But f ee-f or-service plans fared poorly in the cities. 
Organized at the last minute and at a high cost, many parents 
simply could not afford it. In Oakland, for example, several 


J 73 


church groups planned a summer session of five weeks at a fee of 
$58 per child. One thousand children were needed for the program 
to. break even. Only 26 children enrolled — parents would not or 
could not pay the price and the program was cancelled before classes 
began. A high school program sponsored by the University of 
California attracted 250 seniors at $55 per'-class. This, however, 
was far below the annual summer school attendance rate in Oakland 
in past years— ^ The school district had , anticipated ana.d.a. of 
17,000 for a regular, free summer session. 

Little is known about the summertime impact of Proposition 13 
on children and families, beyond the basic attendance count. 
Clearly, many thousands of children were denied schooling oppor- 
tunities, and it is not known what they did instead— or wh^t the _ 
impact on the loss of educational offerings may have been. The 
Hayward, California newspaper interviewed children and families- 
and found that at one point or another during their student 
years almost every child in the. community had attended summer 
school. Furthermore, most of those who had planned to go in 1978 • 
were either behind in credits or had failed a ciass^ 7 . This was 
consistent with other reports _and suggested at least that labelling 
summer school. a frill was based on a less than objective assessment 
of its role and import. * 



The first year consequences of Proposition 13, then, can be 
summarized as follows. (See Table 5 for additional details'.) Com- 
munities that tried to provide school programs turned to fee-for- 
service plans. They were, however, hastily organized and except in 
some suburban areas failed to attract significant numbers of children 
The impact of the loss of service was not studied, and no one 
reallv knows what the million plus children who normally attend 
summer school did instead. The state viewed the first year's 
experience as "successful." Following an initial outcry (which 
was attributed to the late date at which summer school cuts were 
made rather than to the fact that summer school was discontinued) 
there was little ongoing pressure to assure full state funding 
for these programs in future years. 

The 1979 situation seemed to provide further evidence that 
summer school did not attract the kind of ' visible support that might 

have been expected. 

197 9: Where w ere the Children? 
Nineteen seventy-nine saw an elaboration of the f ee-f or-service 
model. With time to plan, more communities instituted these kinds 
of programs.— / In addition, profitmaking institutions began offer- 
ing summer school "packages" to communities, with"- an eye toward fill- 
ing the void that emerged as public agencies other than schools 
also began dropping summer programs for children. 

Some communities promoted the f ee-f or-service plan and found 


•ready constituencies. Others found that parents would simply not 
bear the cost of enrolling children in summer activities, no matter 
what the program might offer. 


118 Districts and Counties 
No Increased Decreased 
Imprtc t Numbers Numbers 


Effects of Proposition 13 on a Selected Set of School Districts 

Summer Programs 

27 Districts with 

54 Elementary Districts a.d.a. ^10,000- 

No Increased Decreased 
I mpact Numbers Numbers 

Impac t 

Increased Decreased 
Number s_ Numbers 

Teachers ;£mpi.C>ynent) 












Instructional Aidia 
Full time. (En#loyr.ent) 
Part tune \ Employment) 


























3 Programs (a.d.a.) 













4-3 Program v a.d.a.) 












a.d.a.- average dally attendance 

Douxre: California, 'state Department of Finance, A Study of Local Government 
; rr acr.5 of Proposition 13, Supplemental Re per t- -K- 1 2 School Districts 
t March lj79) 

35 Districts in Lover 
Third Expenditure Per a.d.a. 
No Increased Decreased 
npact Numbers Numbers 


33 Districts in Upper 
Third Expenditure Per a.d.*. 

No Increased Decreaded 
Impact Numbers Numbers 

3 0 23 










0 • 










17 G 


^ •' ' " ' * . " 18 

' On the public sector side, -in 1979 most school districts 
stuck to "the. letter of the law,' providing summer school classes 
• • .only for the handicapped and for high .school seniors needing 

' units in order to' graduate. ' In Los Angeles attendance was 13,000 
total as against 341, 000 in 1977^/. Oakland put together federal, 
• • state and local 'funds to support programs fpr 5, 000 youngsters 

(compared with 18, 500 in 1977) . These included ESEA Title I • 
reading clinics for 4,400 children at 17 schools; tutorial clusters 
• for low achievers, utilizing,' CETA funds to pay for instruct 
tional aides; and summer youth 'employment/education programs, 
utilizing city funds to. provide jobs in tandem with career . devel- 
opment program^ in h-igVschOol classrooms. Only the Title I read- , 
ing clinics drew any substantial a.d.a. \ 

On the matter of user fees, community experiences were quite 
different from the previous year, but the reasons for the differences 
were not always clear. For example, the Los Altos program mentioned 
earlier drew only one- third as many children in 1979 as il had in 
"l978. Another program,.,- in suburbaa Belmont, attracted 390 child- 
ren in 1978 but only 38 in 1979 (and was cancelled). 'Cupertino ■ _ 
experienced a jump in summer program enrollment for its "voluntary ? 
fee" programs- from 1, 000 in 1978 to 1,500 in 1979. -.But thi,s\ ^ 
■compared poorly with the 10 , 000 a.d.a:(of a possible 16 , 000) for/ the 
regular public summer school session held in 1977 ^ 

There were some legal problems associated with these. programs, ^ 
that kept many districts from offering anything at all. It was not 


clear that public schools could actually charge tuition for" classes/ 
.. hence some communities collected voluntary "donations," with 

ERjfc i? 3 



"suggested level of contribution" for fear of otherwise running 
afoul of the law. In fact, no legal actions materialized, but 
public school officials expressed concejrn that citizens might go to 
court to prohibit the schools from charging fees for service and 
that, inthe worst case, districts would have to bear the entire 
cost of the summer program (once completed) and forfeit the state 
aid they had received. Partly as a result of these unresolved legal 
issues, many communities simply chose not to offer programs. 

Private enterprises were more in evidence in 1979 than the 
previous year. The American Learning Corporation signed contracts 
with 38 school districts to operate 25 programs throughout the 
state .(Programs were not designed to serve individual school 
districts but larger "markets" instead.) Charging substantial fees, 
however, only 12 generated the necessary warrant provision 
of the program. Other enterprises proposed or ran programs with 
fees as high as $144 for five week, one-half day sessions. While 
rapid increase in the size and number of these fee-charging non-public 
school offerings had been predicted,- in fact their growth was slow 
and their attraction limited. At this point, summer school does 
not appear to interest more than a small number of universities, 
colleges and private corporations who are hoping to make a profit 
providing f ee-f or-service programs to school districts and commun- 
ities. By and large, their focus seems to be on remediation and 
although there is ittle evidence that it will become a big business 
as once envisioned (given the size of the summer school population) 
some profitable small scale efforts may survive in the long run. 







T he First Two Years in Perspective 
The post-Proposition 13 experience can be sulpmarized as follows: 

1) Attendance levels at public summer schools have diminished 
dramatically. Most districts have eliminated all except state 

mandated programs. ( \ 

2) Wealthier suburbs have, to an extent, succeeded in intro- 
ducing fee for service alternatives. Inner cities have not been 
able to attract substantial enrollments for programs charging fees. 

3) Private enterprise has failed to find a significant summer 
market , as some had anticipated. This may both reflect higher 

than acceptable fee structures and general disinterest in non- 
public alternatives among parents and families. 

4) To the extent that any documentation is available it appears 
that summer school is used by students, particularly above grade 4, 
for remediation, makeup of missed course work and advanced studies. 
In this sense summer school can hardly be considered a frill, as some 
have argued. 

5) What happened to the children? Only a small proportion of 
! the anticipated 1978-1979 public summer school enrollment can be 
accounted for after examining attendance records of other (non-school) 
summer programs. The vast majority of pre-Proposition 13 summer 
school students remain unaccounted for. In most cities other 
public agencies (e.g. recreation departments) were severely con- 
strained themselves and had no way of expanding their own summer pro- 
grams to absorb more participants. 

' We must view the summer school experience in the context of 
this larger study. While fully institutionalized, like many other 

erJc ISO 


children's services, summer school rested uncomfortably in the pub- 
lic sector, never really enjoying fundamental support among adult 
constituencies. The post-Proposition 13 years suggest that this 
rather shallow support was coupled with uncertainty regarding the 
mandate and programmatic objectives of summer school. Its history 
is somewhat parallel to that of other cultural and recreational 
services for children, hence it is not surprising that the confluence 
of fiscal and political considerations shouldtso drastically under- 
mine the statewide program. 

The Current Debate 
State officials and legislators are aware that the initial, 
post-Proposition 13 response might have been unduly regressive. 
Even thou-h a major summer school lobby has failed to emerge, impor- 
tant issues linked to summer school can no longer be ignored. Some 
legislators feel that the political response (or lack thereof) in 
1978 and 1979 represents an adequate way of measuring, the import 
of summer school to the populace. The ^tate education department, 
on the other hand, argues that there ^ a need for summer program- 
ming that can be justified in educational terms and that many con- 
stituents, most in need of services, ;have few or no alternatives 
to a free public program. Teachers support the education bureaucracy's 
position and also fear a long-term deciine in summer job opportunities 
for teachers. By this formulation one cannot simply examine the glo- 
bal public reaction to the termination of summer programs and assume 
that this is a true measure of their import. Rather, it may be 
necessary to evaluate how uifferent user. groups have been affected 
and, thereby, arrive at an appropriate strategy for future public 
funding of summer school activities. 

ERIC 181 


To date (in 1980) the California Legislature has not addressed 
the summer school problem, although several state senators intend 
to introduce legislation that would re-establish summer school pro- 
grams of particular groups of children (e.g. children who have failed 
to pass to the next grade), albeit on a more limited basis. The 
consensus, however, is that California's summer school program will 
never again reach as many children a c it did in the past. This 
has implications for parents, for with increasing numbers of mothers 
employed , there is a serious need for more summer child care and 
activity alternatives. There are also implications for children, 
who have lost an opportunity to pursue interests and sharpen skills 

somewhat less pressured environment that characterizes summer 
school. If there is a new life for summer school, it will probably 
be the result of minimum competency requirements being introduced 
in California. ' If children must pass examina- 

tions each year in order to advance to the next grade., summer pro- 
grams will be necessary to provide remediation to a large proportion 
of students who are performing far below grade level in both English 
and math. Hence, one impact of annual competency testing may be a 
revitalized summer school program. 

The fate of California's summer school program in the wake of 
Proposition 13 is consistent with a trend away from providing 
specialized services for- young people. Whether this simply reflects 
general taxpayer demands that agencies pare down their program commit- 
ments; demographic factors lessening reducing the problems of the youn 
a fundamental diminishing of public concern for child; or all of these 
things at tandem, f it,is not possible to say. But the dramatic decline 
© in fundinq for summer school affects a large proportion of children 1 


msmam and families who now must cope with the loss of yet another .we'll 


r N otes 

Charles W. O'dell, Summer Work in Public Schools (Urbana: 
• University of Illinois, Bureau of Educational Research, 1930) , 
p . 1 0 . 

Ronald E. Notley, "The Status of Summer School Programs for 

Elementary School Children in California." Ph. a Dissertation, 
'school of Education, University of California, Berkeley, 1953. 

t Ibid . , p . 1 4 . t. 
Ibid . , p . 14 

Charles O'dell, op.cit., pJ-31. 
Ronald Notley, op.cit., p. 18. 
Ibid . 

National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged 

Children, Summer Edu c ation for Children of Poverty (Washington 
GPO, 1966) . • ' 

State of California, Budget Act of 1978 (Sacramento: State of 
California, 1978) , Section 316.1. 

Los Angeles Times , June 30, 1978. 

Oakland Tribune , July 12, 1978. 

Palo Alto Times , July 5, 1979 

Hayward Daily Record f June 2 4,- 1978 . 

While it is difficult to estimate the number of proposed fee- 

for-service plans, it was certainly in the hundreds 

although far fewer were actually carried forward to programs. 

Los Angeles Times , July 2, 1979. 
Palo Alto Times, July 5, 1979. 

Appendix B 

Children's Time Study 
Setting, Sample, Design 

In the Spring of 1976, 764 pre-adolescents (11 and 12 years old) 
from Oakland, California (population 333,000) and their parents were 
interviewed as part of a study of children's use of time outside 
of school. 

The sample was drawn in the following manner. Elementary school 
attendance areas were defined as principal sampling units. Children 
in Oakland attend the school closest to their home, so school attend- 
ance areas are geographic representations of the city's demography. 
Of the 58 attendance areas, 20 were selected for study by stratified 
probability sampling techniques to reflect all school attendance areas 
in the city. Then the names of approximately forty children were 
drawn randomly from the sixth grade rolls at each sample-school 
yielding a cluster sample of twenty attendance areas, 764 cases 
(number of cases per area proportional to population) . Character- 
istics of the sample are described below. 

Characteristics of the Time Study Sample 
Oakland, California 
Spring, 1976 
(N = 764) 







59. 8% 


Less than $4, 999 ^.4% 

$10,000-$14,999 ~~' u 

$15,000-$19,999 ' ^J'* 

$20,000+ 1 \ 
Not Available 

Mother's Education 

Some high school or less 
High School graduate 
Some College 

College graduate and above 
Not Available 



Interviews were conducted at the home of each child between 
April and June 1976. The completion rate was 87.2%. There were 
two protocols: a child's interview schedule and a Parents 
questionnaire (which the parent filled out while the child was 
being interviewed in another room) . 

The interviews consisted of both closed and open-ended questions 
about out-of-school life; things children do alone and with friends; 
things children do with parents and siblings; chores and work 
roles outside the home; involvement in organized activities outside 
of school; and television viewing behavior. Parents questionnaires 
focused on family demography and also probed socialization priorities 
and child-rearing practices affecting out-of-school life. 



Source Materials for the Analysis of Proposition 13 Impacts 

Included in the formulation of the case studies in Chapter IV 


were materials from the following newspapers: 

Alameda Times Star 
Bakersfield Californian 
Colusa Sun Herald 
Concord Transcript 
Contra Cost (County ) Times 
Davis Enterprise 
Dublin Tri-Valley ^ News 
Fair Oaks, North Highlander 
Fremont Argus 
Fresno Bee 

Hayward Daily Record 

Livermore Tri-Valley Herald 

L os Angeles Times 

Los Banos Enterpris e 

Oakland, Montclarion 

New York Times 

Oakland Tribune 

Palo Alto Times 

Pittsburg Post-Dispatch 

Redwood City, Woods ide Country Almanac 

Richmond, Independent Gazette 

Sacramento Bee 

San Francisco Chronicle 

San Francisco Examiner 

Simi Valley, Enterprise Sun and News 

Tracy Press 

Woodland Democrat 

* All newspapers listed are in California, except the New 
York Times.