May 9, 2023 – Managing Attorney John Affeldt is featured in EdSource’s LCFF 10th Anniversary retrospective.
To what extent is LCFF meeting your hopes and expectations?
LCFF accomplished a once-in-a-generation refresh of our public school system. It pivoted from a white-washed “Nation At Risk” approach where “all students can learn” to one explicitly focused on equity — on closing gaps and achieving justice for children, as former Gov. Brown put it, “in unequal situations.” Beyond its progressive funding, LCFF led the nation away from narrow, test-based accountability to a more holistic, multiple-measures approach and set new expectations for fiscal transparency, heightened community engagement and shared local decision-making.
Yet, LCFF imperfectly meets its ambitious promises. LCAPs, despite their cumbersome PDF-iness, vastly outperform the 600-pages of balance sheets and expense reports that otherwise explain district spending priorities. Nonetheless, as the Legislative Analyst’s Office and we have called for, it’s time LCAPs to enter the 21st century with an interactive web-based platform that provides both high-level summaries of goals, actions and spending, and click-through details down to the school level.
Meaningful local engagement across the state remains more hope than reality. Hopefully, the state’s new $100 million investment in the Community Engagement Initiative will further develop and disseminate innovative practices on quality engagement and shared decision-making.
What is one significant change you would make to the LCFF/LCAP and why?
Still, the single biggest barrier to the equity promise of LCFF remains the overall inadequacy of school funding. Until the base grant is increased to provide all students a high-quality education, supplemental and concentration grants for high-need students will still be hijacked for across-the-board essentials. And until the supplemental grant is increased from 20% of base (an 11th-hour political compromise) to something like New Jersey’s 47-50%, or even the originally proposed 37.5%, resources for high-need students will prove insufficient to the task of closing the gap.