As many states adjust their education policies from the prescriptive approach of the NCLB era to ESSA’s emphasis on state and local control, California can offer lessons learned.
Three years into the implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), The Education Trust-West has released a report reflecting on how LCFF has, and has not, served the state’s most vulnerable students. According to EdTrust-West, LCFF has resulted in high-poverty districts receiving more local and state funding than districts in more affluent areas, essentially disrupting the previous funding system that often deepened disadvantages for high-poverty students. While these gains are laudable, EdTrust-West also notes the need for further improvements. Despite increased funding, low-income students still have less access to key resources that contribute to the achievement gap. For instance, “their schools are less likely to have support personnel like counselors and librarians, and they are less likely to offer college preparatory coursework. In some content areas, like music and computer science, the gap in access has actually widened.”
In order to reverse these troubling trends, EdTrust-West offers recommendations to the state and districts, including increased transparency on spending and considering all resources (not just supplemental funding) that can be leveraged to promote equity. For advocates working on school funding and local control, the report is a valuable resource.