Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Parent awareness of California school finance accountability law abysmal | USC News

Parent awareness of California school finance accountability law abysmal | USC News:

Parent awareness of California school finance accountability law abysmal

More than half of the people surveyed by the PACE/USC Rossier poll — and nearly half of those with school-age kids — say they are unaware of the state’s Local Control Funding Formula

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rents are among the many Californians who say they have not heard or read about the state’s school funding and accountability system that aims to increase public input in school spending decisions, according to the latest results of the annual PACE/USC Rossier School of Education poll.
Fifty-four percent of the registered voters who participated in the statewide poll said they were unaware of the Local Control Funding Formula. That is a slight improvement since 2015 when 65 percent of poll respondents had not heard about the law, but somewhat worse than 2014 when only 45 percent had not heard about it.
Enacted in 2013, the funding formula replaced a 40-year-old system that relied primarily on categorical funding for schools. It also gave new flexibility and a weighted student funding formula allocating additional tax dollars for high-needs students. It requires districts to engage their communities in spending decisions.
Thirty-five percent of the poll participants this year were parents with children under 18, most of them enrolled in public schools. Although those respondents seem to have the most at stake in school matters, nearly half (45 percent) said they had never heard or read about the law.
“The lack of awareness among Californians continues to raise serious questions about the implementation of one of the key tenets of the Local Control Funding Formula – meaningful stakeholder engagement in the development of district goals and decisions around resource allocation,” said Julie Marsh, a co-director of the nonpartisan Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), researcher for the poll and an associate professor of education at USC Rossier School of Education.
She added: ”Without awareness, it will be hard to encourage participation, and without participation, how can districts ensure that all voices are heard? Low numbers of aware and watchful citizens also compromises accountability for achieving the policy’s equity goals.”
Among those who are aware of the law, support is high – 63 percent (versus 24 percent opposed) – and is strongest among Democrats (74 percent) and among young voters aged 18 to 29 (74 percent).
“It’s good to see that voters support the goals of the Local Control Funding Formula,” said Karen Symms Gallagher, dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. “We’re already seeing a real, positive change from this policy, and school leaders need to make sure that their local communities know that as well.”
The school finance law allocated more money to districts that have more English-language learners, low-income students, foster children and homeless children and provided districts with greater flexibility over spending. When respondents were informed of this, 71 percent said they favored the policy, as did 71 percent who were parents with children in school and 76 percent of parents without school-aged children.
The state funding formula system was designed to encourage more community member involvement in district resource decisions. However, 88 percent of the respondents said they were unaware of public meetings or events where they could help set goals, provide input into spending, review their school’s progress and/or develop its Local Control and Accountability Plan.
Districts are required to involve the public in making and reviewing those plans, which guide them in fulfilling state priorities, such as improving college readiness and student performance. The plans aim to increase engagement with students, their families and communities, and create a healthy learning environment.

Getting involved

More than 60 percent of voters said they want to be involved in decision-making at their local school, such as helping their local public school set goals and in reviewing the school’s progress, and helping to decide how best to allocate resources to advance their school’s goals. They were equally interested in assisting their local school district in these ways.
However, very few voters – just 5 percent – have done so. Attendance was only slightly higher among parents (9 percent) and parents with children in school (11 percent) who said they participated in any meetings related to the policy.
Voters with no interest in participating in school or district decision-making gave a few reasons: chiefly that they have no children in school, followed by a lack of information and experience about school issues and no time to Parent awareness of California school finance accountability law abysmal | USC News:

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