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Two dozen views on LCFF: Is California's funding law working and what could improve it?


In 2013, the Legislature adopted the Local Control Funding Formula, landmark legislation championed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that overhauled how California finances TK-12 schools.

It significantly redistributed money to districts based on student needs, and, in exchange for transferring more spending authority to local school boards, created new school accountability and support systems.

To mark the law’s 10th anniversary, EdSource invited Vickie Ramos-Harris, Director of Educational Equity and a cross-section of other education authorities, advocates, parents and political leaders to share their perspectives on two questions in 250 or fewer words.

  • To what extent is the LCFF meeting expectations?
  • What is one significant change you would make to the LCFF and the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and why?

Here is what she had to say:

Vickie Ramos Harris

To what extent is LCFF meeting your hopes and expectations?

LCFF was a landmark policy that transformed California’s public education funding landscape. It institutionalized a structure founded upon equity and collective accountability by redistributing funding based on targeted student groups and requiring districts to engage students, families and communities in their budgeting and planning process. While this was a pivotal equity gain, the implementation has yet to fully realize its potential to advance racial equity for California students. The lack of school site-level transparency and accountability, plus inconsistency in authentic community engagement, have hindered districts and schools from fully innovating local policies and practices to better serve the student groups LCFF aims to impact. Furthermore, no system is in place to target resources to California’s lowest-performing student groups with the greatest need for support: Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students.

What is one significant change you would make to the LCFF/LCAP and why?

LCFF can deepen equity through strategies from models like the student equity needs index (SENI) in Los Angeles Unified. The SENI was co-developed with the district and community to comprehensively understand where there is the greatest student need to ensure investments reach schools equitably. Moreover, the SENI fosters greater transparency and accountability through its school-level reporting requirements and is an equity-centered guide that informs broader district decisions (e.g. staffing priorities). Using this type of approach at the state level can strengthen transparency, accountability and collaborative decision-making with communities to support a system of continuous improvement to close the long-standing opportunity gaps, fulfill the promise of equity and ensure all students thrive.

Vickie Ramos Harris serves as the director of educational equity for Catalyst California, where she leads policy advocacy across the birth-to-12th-grade system to advance racial equity and economic justice.

Read what others had to say in EdSource's article