Education in California

The educational system in California consists of public and private schools in the U.S. state of California, including the public University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges systems, private colleges and universities, and public and private elementary, middle, and high schools.

California is the most populous state of the U.S. and has the most school students, with over 6.2 million in the 2005–06 school year. About 25% of school students are English learners, compared to 9% nationally. Funding and staffing levels in California schools lag behind other states. In expenditure per pupil, California ranked 29th of the 51 states (including the District of Columbia) in 2005–06. In teaching staff expenditure per pupil, California ranked 49th of 51. In overall teacher-pupil ratio, California was also 49th, with 21 students per teacher. Only Arizona and Utah were lower.

Universities and colleges
The main state research university is the University of California (UC). The University of California has ten major campuses. Each major UC campus is headed by a chancellor that is appointed by the Regents of the University of California.

The ten major campuses of the University of California are located in Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, Davis, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Riverside, Merced and San Francisco. The University of California, San Francisco, teaches only graduate health-sciences students. The UC Hastings College of the Law, also in San Francisco, is affiliated with UC, but is not administered by the UC Regents. The UC system is intended to accept students from the top 12.5% of college-bound students, and provide most graduate studies and research.

The University of California also administers one national laboratory directly for the United States Department of Energy: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The university indirectly manages Los Alamos National Laboratory through Los Alamos National Security, LLC and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory through Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC.

The California State University (CSU) system is the third-largest university system in the United States. It is intended to accept the top one-third (1/3) of high school students. The universities within CSU are primarily intended for undergraduate education, although many of the larger campuses, such as Cal Poly, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, San Francisco State, San Diego State, and San José State (the oldest public university in California), are becoming more research oriented, especially in applied sciences. A marked change and a shift from the California Master Plan for Higher Education began in 2007 as the CSU now grants doctoral level degrees (Ed.D.) in education. Kevin Starr (State Librarian emeritus) and others have argued that this small change is the beginning of a larger reorganization of higher education in California.

The California Community Colleges system provides lower division "General Education" courses, whose credit units are transferable to the CSU and UC systems, as well as vocational education, remedial education, and continuing education programs. It awards certificates and associate degrees. It is composed of 112 colleges organized into 72 districts, serving a student population of over 2.9 million.

Notable private universities and colleges include Stanford University, Loyola Marymount University, the University of Southern California (USC), the University of San Francisco (USF), Santa Clara University, Pepperdine University, St. Mary's College, the University of the Pacific, Thomas Aquinas College, the Claremont Colleges, Occidental College, Westmont College, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (which administers the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA).

California has hundreds of other private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions. This leads to many unique entertainment and educational opportunities for residents. For example, Southern California, with one of the highest densities of post-secondary institutions in the world, has a very large base of classically-trained vocalists that compete in large choir festivals. In the Bay Area and near Los Angeles, there are numerous art and film schools, including the California College of the Arts and the CalArts Institute.

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