California Public K-12 Compared to Other States

This article examines the poor grades for California K-12 Public Schools in the K-12 Education Week “Quality Counts” 2015 Report.

US schools have an average grade of C with an average score of 74.3.

Overall Ratings:

First we present the scores of the quintiles of the distribution of the 50 states.

The top ten states range from a top score of 86.2 and grade B down to 75.9 with grade C+.

The next ten states range down to a score of 75.2 with grade C.

The third ten range down to 71.5 with a score of C-.

The bottom ten starts at 69.2 with a grade of D+  down to 64.2, with a grade of D.

California ranks as the 42nd state at 69.2 with the D+ grade.

With the range of states scores from 64.2 to 86.2, which covers a range of 22 points, California is just 5 points from the bottom.  One way to understand this is to look at the Finance scores.

(The rankings include the District of Columbia.)

Finance Ratings:

The US scores have an average of 75.3 and a grade of C.

The high score is 89.3, and the low is 59.1.

California’s score is 67.0, is ranked 40th, and is graded a D+.  Of the range of scores of 30.2 from low to high, California is 7.9 from the lowest score.

To see why this is, the US average expenditure per pupil is $11,735 per year.  California’s average expenditure per year is $8,308 in 2012.  This is only 71% of the US average.

Furthermore, only 7.9% of California’s districts spend above the US average.

California’s recent increases will not show up until future surveys.

Under finance, California’s Equity score is 86.4, rating a B.  However, its Spending score is 47.6, getting an F!

As a percent of taxable income that the state spends on education, the US average of states is 3.4%.  California spends 2.7% on education.  This is only 80% of the US average.

The California Budget Project points out that the student to teacher ratio for California K-12 in 2012-2013 is 24.7 to 1, while the US average is 14.5 to 1.  California’s ratio is 70% higher than the US average.

Ed-Data reports for the Irvine Unified School District expenditures of $8,167 per pupil, compared to state averages for Unified School Districts of $8,734, or all Districts of $8,794.

K-12 Achievement:

The average US achievement is scored 70.2, with a range from 57.1 to 83.7, and a grade of C-.  California does better here with a score of 67.8 and a rank of 33rd, but still only earns a D+.  The range of scores is 26.6, and California is 13.1 or about half way above the bottom.  Still, that is not what we expect for the best our state can do.


California ranks 42nd here with a C grade, while the US average is a C+.

In 2010, according to NCHHEMS, 61.7% of California’s graduating seniors went on to advanced education, comparable to the US average of 62.5%.

The California Postsecondary Education Commission, however, has lower numbers for 2008 for seniors going on to advanced education.  They have a total of 49.7% going on to advanced education, with 8.4% going to UCs, 12.1% going to CSUs, and 29.3% going to community colleges.

Irvine was previously in the 48th Congressional District, and that had in 2008: 11.8% going on to UCs, 9.0% going on to CSUs, and 33.1% going on to Community Colleges, for a total of 54.0%.

The Education Week data has us graduating 82.0% of high school students, placing us 22nd among states.  The US average is 81.0%.

Ed-Data for California has for 2012-13 the graduation rate of 80.4%, with the rate for males being 76.9%, and for females being 84.1%.  They report a dropout rate of 11.4%, which, unfortunately, is highly ethnicity dependent.

Ed-Data also says that the percentages of high school graduates completing UC/CSU required course is 39.4%.

Using 2009 data, the percent of Californians 25 and older with bachelors degrees was 29.9%, above the US average of 27.9%.  The range among states was from 17.3% to 38.2%.

In 2009, the percent with advanced degrees in California for age 25 and older was 10.9%, close to the national average of 10.3%.  The range among states was from 6.7% to 16.4%.

Types of California Schools:

Here are some data from the California Department of Education.

California has 6.24 million students in public schools for 2013-2014.  (Our population is 37 million.)

Of these, 0.51 million students are in Charter schools.  Charter schools are also public schools and accept any student.  They are supposed to be funded at the same rate as public schools but are claimed to be underfunded by 9%.

Private schools have 0.53 million students as of 2008-9, or 7.9% of students then.

California Ethnicity:

Since one factor in California education may be ethnicity related, we note the diversity of California.

Hispanic or Latino students are 53% of public school students, at 3.32 million.

White, non-Hispanic students are 25% at 1.56 million.

Asian students are 8.7% at 0.54 million.

African American students are 6.2% at 0.38 million.

California has 1.3 million students classified as English learners.  This is a high fraction, since the US has 4.4 million such students.



Posted in Education | Leave a comment

PayScale Rankings for UC Irvine in Various Majors


Here we present a table for UC Irvine PayScale rankings in several majors for 2014-2015, and UCIs ranking among California Colleges.  We also include the Early Career salaries for 0 to 5 years past the undergraduate degree, and the Mid-Career salaries for 10 or more years past their degree.

UC Irvine ranked in the top 10 nationwide in most of the majors in which they were listed on PayScale.  UCI also ranked 9th among California schools for all students.

Of course, rankings are not a good linear scale to display what can be rather minor differences between Mid-Career salaries, which is why we include the salaries themselves for a better comparison.  There also is a vast range of career years covered in the one number of Mid-Career of 10 or more years.  Nevertheless, people quote rankings, so we include them also.


Major Rank Early Career Salary Mid-Career Salary
Art 7 35,000   78,000
Business 6 48,100 121,000
Computer Science 6 67,600 126,600
Engineering 123 62,100 102,300
Humanities 5 39,900   92,000
Physical and Life Sciences 10 42,900   92,800
Among California Schools, All Majors 9 49,300   99,100


Among California schools in advanced degrees, PayScale ranked UC Irvine 25th for its master’s degrees, with Early Career salaries of $72,200, and Mid-Career salaries of $122,300.


Posted in Education, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

UC Irvine is 10th in PayScale College Salary Report for Physical and Life Sciences


PayScale 2014-2015 College Salary Report for Physical and Life Sciences

UC Irvine places tenth nationwide in Mid-Career Salary of ten or more years after the bachelor’s degree.

Here we give the Early Career Salary of 0-5 years, and the Mid-Career Salary for the top 10 institutions, and then add other California campuses.

Rank School Early Career Mid-Career
1 CalPoly Pomona 51,400 110,000
2 UC Berkeley 51,700 104,300
3 UC Davis 49,700   99,500
4 Indiana U Bloomington 45,300   99,100
5 University at Buffalo 42,000   98,800
6 Stony Brook U 51,000   96,600
7 UC San Diego 43,700   95,600
8 U of Delaware 48,200   93,800
9 San Jose State U 48,300   92,900
10 UC Irvine 42,900   92,800
20 UCLA 45,800   88,800
23 Cal State U Long Beach 53,500   88,100
26 San Diego State U 55,900   87,000
35 CalPoly San Luis Obispo 46,600   80,000
42 Cal State U Northridge 47,000   73,900


Posted in Education, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

UC Irvine Information on PayScale

Here is the link to the PayScale information site on UC Irvine.

Some interesting data on UC Irvine is that it ranks in the top 7% of State Universities for return of investment (ROI).

Our graduation rate is 86%.

89% of UCI alumni are employed in the wonderful state of California.

Leading employers of UCI alumni are:


Posted in Education, UC Irvine, Wealth | Leave a comment

UC Irvine Ranks 9th in PayScale College Salary Report for California Campuses


We look at the results of the new 2014-2015 PayScale College Salary Report by narrowing it down to UC campuses.  We first report on the top 16 California 4 year undergraduate campuses, which include 6 UC campuses, and then add the ranking for UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz.

For each campus we report their Early Career Salary of 0-5 years out, and then their Mid-Career Salary of 10 or more years out.  We also add the percent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees since they can often give higher salaries.

The rankings are by the Mid-Career Salaries, and are in dollars.

The stated accuracy is about plus or minus 5%.  To that extent, the schools ranked from 6 to 16 fall within the same error bars around the $100,000 mid-career salary.

Of course, we point out that UC Irvine ranks number 9 among California schools.


Rank School Early Career Mid-Career % Stem Degrees
1 Harvey Mudd College 75,600 133,800 86%
2 Stanford U. 62,900 126,400 28%
3 Caltech 74,800 126,200 93%
4 UC Berkeley 59,500 114,200 31%
5 Santa Clara U. 56,600 111,700 15%
6 UC San Diego 50,600 102,100 38%
7 Occidental College 45,600 101,900 18%
8 CalPoly San Luis Obispo 56,200 100,100 31%
9 UC Irvine 49,300   99,100 30%
10 College of the Pacific 51,500   98,300 31%
11 USC 51,700   98,000 13%
11 Westmont College 40,300   98,000 16%
13 UC Davis 50,800   97,900 34%
14 UC Santa Barbara 47,000   96,900 16%
15 Claremont McKenna 50,100   96,000 12%
16 UC Los Angeles 50,300   95,900 21%
23 UC Riverside 45,600   89,600 22%
32 UC Santa Cruz 46,200   83,000 20%


Posted in Education, Income, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

Minimizing Effects of Methane Leakage in Converting From Coal to Natural Gas

In the discussion of replacing coal with natural gas, two numbers are commonly used.  One is that natural gas produces only half the CO2 pollution.  That can be improved to a 72% cut in CO2 by upgrading to combined cycle gas turbine plants.  The other number is that over 100 years, fugitive methane from leaks is 34 times as polluting as CO2 by weight.  But weight does not matter, only the number of molecules to produce energy.  When that is corrected for, the warming of methane over CO2 is lowered to a factor of 12.  Combining the two factors raises the breakeven point for fugitive methane from 3% to 20%.  This means that even if leakage is as much as 5%, greenhouse warming is reduced by 55% by converting from coal to natural gas.  These changes are illustrated by figures in this article.

Picture fugitive methane effect

We include a figure for how the comparison of methane versus carbon dioxide warming by weight over counts methane molecules by about a factor of three.  Instead of the warming of methane over carbon dioxide being a factor of 34 by weight, it is reduced to a factor of 12 by molecule, which is important in referring to energy production and fugitive methane leakage.  This is also discussed by Richard Muller, UC Berkeley, based on work by Richard Muller and Zeke Hausfather.

I also include a figure that illustrates the calculation of what the amount of leakage of methane or the breakeven point would be if old 33% efficient coal plants were replaced by 60% efficient combined cycle gas turbine natural gas plants.  The breakeven point would be 20% leakage of fugitive methane compared to methane used for power production.  This is compared to the previous breakeven of 3% calculated using the incorrect comparison by weight, and replacing 33% efficient coal plants only by 33% efficient natural gas plants.

Comparing the energy produced per molecule from coal or burning carbon, versus methane, since methane CH4 also burns the hydrogen, it turns out it produces twice as much energy per molecule as a carbon atom, but both produce one CO2 polluting molecule.  We emissions for methane start out at about 50% for the same energy produced.  Then if replace a 33% efficient old coal plant with a 60% efficient gas turbine combined cycle natural gas plant, we need less fuel by 33% / 60% = 0.55.  Multiplying this 0.55 by the 0.50 decrease per molecule for methane, gives only 28% as many methane molecules burned for the same energy as carbon, or only 28% the amount of CO2 produced.  That is the reduction of CO2 by switching to methane is 72%.

Now we look at the effect of a single fugitive methane molecule that has the same greenhouse gas effect over 100 years as 12 CO2 molecules.  To include the efficiency effect of producing only 28% of CO2 from methane burning versus coal, it is convenient to start with 17 coal or carbon molecules burning to 17 CO2 molecules.  It only takes 5 CH4 molecules to produce the same energy, as shown in the figure, since 5/17 = 0.29 is almost the same as 28%.  But if one fugitive methane is released for every 5 burned, that is equivalent to 12 CO2 for warming, and we break even with no advantage in greenhouse effect by switching.  Thus one fugitive methane for every five burned, or 20%, is the break-even point.  This leaves much more room for leakage than the 3% breakeven calculated using the incorrect ratio of 34 for the calculation, and only equal efficiency plants.

Picture methane by molecule

Estimates of leakage have mostly been less than 8%, and it is said to only cost a penny out of the $4 per 1,000 cubic feet or 10 therms cost of natural gas to reduce leakage.

The table below shows the savings in greenhouse gas CO2 equivalents for various values of leakage, and assuming that CO2 has an effective lifetime of 100 or 200 years.

Table of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Replacing Old Coal with New Natural Gas Plants, Including Methane Leakage
Table for CO2 lifetimes of 100 or 200 years
Leakage at 0%, 3%, 5%, or 10%
Previous 3% Leakage Break-even Replaced by 62% or 67% Reduction of Greenhouse Gases

Leakage -> 0%  3% 5% 10%
CO2 100 years 72% 62% 55% 38%
CO2 200 years 72% 67% 60% 55%

Here are some general facts about methane.

Methane is 9% of US greenhouse gas emissions.

Its lifetime in the atmosphere is twelve years, and it is destroyed by atmospheric OH.

About 40% of methane comes from wetlands, including rice farming.

About 20% comes from energy production.

About 20% comes from livestock (cow burping).

If averaged over a 100 years, it is 34 times more potent than CO2 by mass.

CO2, however, may last longer than 100 years.

You often see stated that if averaged over only 20 years, methane greenhouse effect is a factor of 86 larger than CO2, but this is not relevant since CO2 lasts at least a hundred years.

What is important is to cut CO2 from coal, and to keep fugitive emissions of methane very low.




Posted in Climate Change, Coal, Electric Power, Energy Efficiency, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Natural Gas | Leave a comment

EPA Clean Power Plan Costs

The EPA is proposing the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 from their amount in 2005.  This is part of the program to reduce total US emissions by 30% by 2030 from their amount in 2005.  We are apparently about half the way there.  Since emissions from the power sector are 32% of total emissions, the power sector is a crucial part of the overall plan.  The emission reductions vary for each state, depending on how clean their current energy sources are.

An analysis by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) gives the projected increase from 2012 to 2020 per household at $680 per year, a 35% increase, in current (nominal) dollars.  In projected real dollars, the EVA report gave the rise as less than half of that as $293, a 15% increase.

On December 5, 2014, Stephen Moore, Chief Economist of The Heritage Foundation, wrote an editorial for the Orange County Register showing the cost of the new proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) of the EPA, but only indicating the $680 per year increase, not the $293 cost in real dollars, which is only 43% of the cost in current dollars.

Stephen Moore also said that was the effect of the CPP alone, but the EVA analysis included the effect of all EPA regulations, including those that lead to cleaning smog causing nitrous oxides and acid rain causing sulfur dioxides from the exhaust gases, all of which we greatly appreciate.  The EVA analysis also adds the cost of residential natural gas to the cost of electrical power.  The EVA analysis also does not fold in all the cost savings from efficiency increases that are part of the Clean Power Plan.

His editorial did not delve further into the assumptions of the EVA analysis, which assumed a 135% increase in natural gas prices in current dollars, or 100% in real dollars.  Here is an actual EIA graph of the projected price of natural gas.

Natural gas price projections








It is not clear how much of the cost increase is due to the projected rise in natural gas alone.  Natural gas prices are very hard to predict, since there is a debate about the extent of cheap shale gas from plays.  Also, a large Liquid Natural Gas export trade in the future could drive up prices to compete with much higher international prices.  The EVA report seems to be closer to the “Reference Case” in the graph, and should be extended to cover the full range of prices shown in the EIA projections, including the much lower “Low natural gas price case”.  So it is not at all clear from the EVA how much cost rise is due to the currently protested and debated CPP rule on coal power itself, and how much to the assumed increase in the cost of natural gas.

I do agree that Stephen Moore is rightly concerned about the high cost increases, especially to poor families.  Programs are needed on a Federal or State level to give cost reductions to poor families, as already exist in California.

For the case of California in the EVA report, the combined gas plus electrical residential cost increase would be increased $249 in current dollars by 2020 over 2012, a 17% increase, but they don’t give the increase in real dollars.  For the residential electricity bill alone, an EVA table gives an increase of 11% in current dollars, or -5% in real dollars.  That may largely be because we do not have coal power plants directly in the state.

Posted in California Power Mixes, Climate Change, Coal, Electric Power, Energy Efficiency, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy | Leave a comment

US Emission Reductions Could Lower Temperature by 0.3 Degrees F by 2100

This article will estimate the temperature effect by 2100 of the US emission reductions from a business-as-usual model for the effects of climate change.  It will show that the reductions can be as much as 0.29 degrees F for the full 30% reduction by 2030, or 0.096 degrees F for the Clean Power Plan of 30% emissions reduction from the power sector.

The new Clean Power Plan’s rules to reduce CO2 from US power production by 30% by 2030 are being highly debated.  The new rules are being denigrated by conservatives using a ubiquitous estimate that they will only reduce global warming by 0.018 degrees C by the end of this century.  The Cato institute provides a calculator and a discussion of the source of that or alternate numbers on its website.

The calculations use a simplified climate model called MAGICC put forth by NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and UCAR, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.    It is centered around the A1B model of worldwide economic development and mitigation efforts until 2100.  Hopefully, the world will follow something even better than  this development, which although it has growth in yearly greenhouse gas outputs until 2040, it turns over there and outputs sharply reduced by the end of the century.  The concentrations or radiative forcings keep increasing since CO2 lasts on the order of 100 years.  However, you can argue that this heavily mitigated A1B model is not the best starting point for showing the effect of greenhouse gas reduction rules against a business-as-usual background that we are only starting to mitigate.  Here, I will estimate the effect with a business-as-usual model.

The economic climate paths have been superseded by Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) that just present courses of greenhouse gases or total radiative forcing during this century, without detailed economic and mitigation models.  They are labeled by the ending radiative forcing at year 2100 in Watts per square meter.  They are shown in the figure below.

reductions radiative forcing

Below is shown the CO2 equivalent concentrations including all forcing gases and effects for the four RCPs.

reductions CO2


The one closest to A1B is RCP 6.0, with and ending temperature increase  for 2081-2100 above the period 1986-2005, centered around 2.2 degrees C (4.0 F) over preindustrial times, with range from 1.4 to 3.1 degrees C.  (To convert to the period 1850-1900 add 0.61 degree C.)  The trajectory considered more as business as usual is RCP 8.5, which is the highest considered, and which we have already started tracking with our limited mitigation efforts.  This has an ending temperature increase centered around 3.7 degrees C (6.7 degrees F), with a 90% inclusive range from 2.6 to 4.8 degrees C (4.7 to 8.6 F).  I think it is more realistic to measure the effects of rules for GHG reduction from the starting trajectory of no reductions, than from an already highly mitigated trajectory.  Thus I will use the RCP 8.5 trajectory.

The fraction of US GHG emissions in 2012 generated by the Electricity Sector is 32%.  The CPP rules call for a 30% reduction of this by 2030.  That would be a 9.6% reduction in total US emissions.  (Coal results in 24.5% of total US emissions, and 44% of world emissions.)  The US emitted 15% of worldwide emissions in 2012.  Applying the 9.6% reduction to this gives a CPP reduction to worldwide emissions of 1.44%.  Now that seems small in itself.  However, the argument is made, if we, the richest large nation, does not make such an effort, how can we expect any other nations to do likewise.

Now the MAGICC calculations assume that we continue our same percentage emissions among the 90 OECD nations.  Applying this to the world as a whole, even as other countries develop economically, we do also, maintaining the same percentage of emissions before reductions.  Thus, of the final RCP warming trajectory, this will reduce the 2100 temperature increase by 1.44%.  If we look at the RCP 8.5 increase centered around 3.7 degrees C, the Clean Power Plan rules would reduce it by 0.053 degrees C, or 0.096 degrees F.  This is almost a factor of 3 greater than the standardly quoted 0.018 degrees C.  This straightforward way of calculation removes a lot of the hidden modeling assumptions, but shows that different pictures can change such values by a factor of three.

The total US goal is to lower all emissions by 30% over 2005 emissions by 2030.  Since that will now apply to triple the amount of emissions as the Electricity Sector alone, it could reduce century ending temperature by almost 0.16 degrees C, or 0.29 degrees F.  Applying the 90% range from RCP 8.5 the overall US 30% reduction gives a range of 0.11 to 0.21 degrees C (0.20 to 0.38 F).  Seen as part of a whole, the reduction from CPP gains greater significance.

Posted in California Power Mixes, Climate Change, Coal, Electric Power, Energy Efficiency, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Natural Gas, Politics, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy | Leave a comment

Projections and Agreements on Climate Change: Talk by David Victor

Dr. David Victor of UCSD gave the Reeburgh Lecture at UC Irvine on December 10, 2014.  It was titled “Getting Serious About International Cooperation on Climate Change”.  This is a listing of some of his main points. The talk will be on the UCI Physical Sciences website.

Negotiations on greenhouse gases have not been effective.

Initial Kyoto signers would have covered 59% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Those that stayed in the accord covered only 23%. The 2011 renewal only covered 13% of emissions.

Continuing as usual will result in 3-4 degrees C of warming by 2100.

We would need 80% reduction in emissions to keep warming to only 2 degrees C above pre-industrial times. This is just not possible.

Analysts love markets such as cap and trade or taxes

Politicians love regulations that hide the costs.

California cap and trade has achieved only18% of desired reductions. Regulations will do the rest.

Agreements must be flexible to allow for national implementation strategies.

Globalization is good for climate policy, since it spreads technology.  For example, the best power plants are used around the world.

It is easy for a country to outsource manufacturing and emissions to achieve its emission goals. Great Britain is an example.

The San Francisco Bay Bridge was built from parts manufactured in Asia.

Climate policy for GHG reduction also reduces black carbon and sulfur dioxide pollution.

The best agreements come from “clubs” of countries. It is easier to make a deal in a smaller group.  For example, the recent US-China agreement.

GHG reduction will be a long, slow process.  Significant warming will still occur. We will be forced to over adapt.

Climate change problems lead to security issues.

Russia may want some warming for a longer growing season.  Saudi Arabia want us to fail in limiting fossil fuels.

Poor societies don’t have money to adapt, while rich societies do. Poor societies will suffer.






Posted in California Power Mixes, Climate Change, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions | Leave a comment

Politics and the Fossil Fuel Industry versus the Laws of Nature and Economics

The fossil fuel backers and climate deniers now control both house houses of Congress, about two-thirds of state legislators and governors, and state attorney generals. All of these are set to oppose the EPA greenhouse gas pollution regulations and clean energy subsidies. As much as they deny climate warming or man-made sources, they cannot change the natural phenomena of climate change, or its continual growth from man-made sources. The effects get stronger every year, and the scientific case for both climate change and its cause of fossil fuel pollution gets stronger every year.

The flooding of Miami will rise no matter how many deniers they elect as Governor. The rest of the world that has freedom of science will continue to be convinced of the effects and source. The costs will rise and insurance companies will start charging more for necessary protection since they face realistic claims.

Since natural gas is currently cheaper than coal and much cleaner, it will continue to replace the old coal plants even without government regulation, as the laws of economics dictate. Current wind power will continue to generate economic power, although its growth will be slowed without subsidy. However, the environmental damage from coal mining, from coal pollution, from ash pits, and its health costs will continue, and be better documented every year. They will also lead to public protest, no matter which politicians dominate the state.

Solar power gets cheaper every year, and that should continue, with even more efficient solar cells. Renewable and natural gas industries also have their lobbyists to fight for cleaner power. Gas saving cars are still better investments, and will continue to drive down the price of gas since less will be needed. Environmental policies will still make progress in the one-third of states that are not conservative and fossil fuel dominated. Cleaner air and water will results.

While we bemoan the fossil fuel industry takeovers of government sectors, the laws of nature, of scientific investigation, and economics will continue to make sense despite imposed political ignorance.








Posted in Climate Change, Coal, Conservation, Economies, Energy Efficiency, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Natural Gas | Leave a comment