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“It’s going to mean a softer landing for us,” says Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction in California. That state is facing an $11.6 billion cutback in public-education funding, affecting the remainder of this school year as well as next. In some cases, Mr. O’Connell says, “instead of a superintendent having to decide between textbooks or a math teacher, we’ll be able to do both. Or, it will mean a longer bus ride for kids, instead of eliminating transportation.”