09/18/2020

California’s school war will have new political players

The Local Control Funding Formula that provides the extra money for what are termed “at-risk” kids is the handiwork of Gov. Jerry Brown. He not only boasts of allocating even more money to LCFF in his last budget, but counts it as a significant effort to combat California’s high poverty and income disparity rates.

It’s more than a little odd, therefore, that Brown, the state school board he appoints, state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson and the rest of California’s education establishment stoutly resist efforts to closely monitor whether the money is actually being spent on those kids and having a positive effect.

Civil rights and education reform groups have been pressing for such accountability, so far to little avail. In fact, the state’s accountability “dashboard” downplays academic achievement in favor of “multiple measures” and makes it virtually impossible to tell what’s really happening.

. . . Implicitly, however, they fear that a stricter accounting for spending and academic results would be embarrassing, and that fear appears to be warranted.

Outside examinations of LCFF have shown both a pattern of diverting the extra money away from helping at-risk students and no substantial narrowing of the achievement gap.

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