Finding a Path Toward Equity: What States Can Learn from the Transformation of California’s School Funding Model

By Christina Baumgardner, Stephen Frank, Jason Willis, Alexander Berg-Jacobson

Finding a Path Toward Equity: What States Can Learn from the Transformation of California’s School Funding Model
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Description

With the passage of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013, California began the process of revolutionizing its school funding system. The LCFF aimed to make the California school finance system more equitable, flexible, and transparent. Under the new system, funds are distributed according to the level of student need and district leaders have much more flexibility to make spending decisions.

This report, developed by Education Resource Strategies (ERS) and WestEd, describes the history of how and why one of California’s most significant education reforms in recent years came to be. The report also offers valuable lessons for policymakers, administrators, educators, and advocates who want to increase flexibility, equity, and transparency in their state K–12 funding systems.

While some aspects of the LCFF story are unique to the California context, there are valuable lessons applicable to all states pursuing a more equitable and transparent K–12 funding system.

Customer Reviews

1 review for Finding a Path Toward Equity: What States Can Learn from the Transformation of California’s School Funding Model

  1. Rated 3 out of 5

    Jennifer Bestor

    “Finding a Path Toward Equity” is an interesting historical review of LCFF 1.0 — how California got to a weighted student formula with a nod to greater flexibility at the district level. It correctly captures the benefits of starting when a system is on the ropes. However, LCFF faces two serious immediate challenges. First, student test scores haven’t improved … yet? Systems don’t turn on a dime, so hopefully this is ahead, but that jury is still out. Second, LCFF does not recognize any cost-of-living difference between San Francisco (142% of the statewide average) and Bakersfield (76%). The suburban Bay Area has been back-filling its schools with parcel taxes, PTA dues, and educational foundation donations — while paying the lion’s share of the income tax that funds not just its own schools but most of the rest of the state. So equal has been achieve, but victory in terms of effectiveness and equity will be an open issue over the next few years.

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