In 2013, when Governor Jerry Brown replaced California’s 40-year-old education funding system with the Local Control Funding Formula. He sought to revolutionize education by leveling the playing field.
Back then, he said, "Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont.” He called the bill controversial, but fair.
Four years of LCFF and $31 billion later, a recent investigation shows the achievement gap between California’s neediest and the most privileged children has not decreased.
CALmatters reporter Jessica Calefati, who conducted the investigation, said, “And what we found is that in many of the cases, in more than half of the districts that we studied for reading and virtually all of them for math the achievement gaps are not closing at all, haven’t budged, or are getting wider.”
The goal was to direct more funds into schools with higher populations of low-income students, foster children and those who are still learning English, in order to improve their performance and bridge the achievement gap. Calefati said Governor Brown did not agree to an interview but his staff commented that it is too early to start looking at test scores.
“Their argument there is that we have a new state test, and that’s true. But these achievement gaps are enormous, 30 or 40 percentage points, we have a long way to go,” Calefati said.
Part of the problem is that with increased local control, came a decrease in transparency. Districts are not required and are not reporting how much of their funding comes from the supplemental grants and how much is part of their base funding. Even more concerning is the fact that the state is not keeping track of how districts are using these funds.