UPDATE, January 25, 2013: The Governor's "State of the State" address yesterday, "...called on the Legislature to adopt his Local Control Funding Formula, which would phase in substantially more money for low-income students and those struggling to speak English proficiently, as reported by John Fensterwald on EdSource, adding "Brown has yet to flesh out the details...instead with a touch of righteousness, he explained the underlying principles for it."
One is non-interference with those officials closest to working with students, what Brown calls the principle of “subsidiarity.” It is one way to unshackle districts and teachers from layers of authority, the most remote of which are Congress and the federal Department of Education, “whose rules, audits and fines reach into every classroom in America.” [Brown was quoted as defining subsidiarity as "the idea that a cental authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level."]
Brown has lashed out before at the education dictates and minutiae demanded by Washington, particularly in the Race to the Top requirements, the No Child Left Behind law and Secretary of Education Duncan’s refusal to grant California a waiver from it. He picked up that theme again with relish.
“The laws that are in fashion demand tightly constrained curricula and reams of accountability data. All the better if it requires quiz-bits of information, regurgitated at regular intervals and stored in vast computers,” he said and added, to applause, “We seem to think that education is a thing — like a vaccine — that can be designed from afar and simply injected into our children.”
HOW LOCAL CONTROL FUNDING MAY AFFECT FOSTER CHILDREN
January 23, 2013: Governor Brown's proposal to increase local school districts' decisions about how they will spend state dollars -- "flexibility" is the buzz word -- may have an adverse, significant effect on the state's 42,000 school-age children who are in foster care, according to an article written Monday by EdSource reporter Susan Frey.
Under the governor’s proposed “local control funding formula,” districts would get at least 35 percent more dollars – more than $2,000 per child – for educating their share of the state’s English learners, low-income children, and ...foster students. Districts would have to account for their use of the funds to their local community.
At the same time, current state categorical funding earmarked for foster youth programs would be “flexed,” able to be used for any educational purpose with no accountability for how it is spent by county offices of education.
Foster youth advocates say the promised 35 percent extra funding is illusory, while the threatened loss of the protection of categorical funding is real....
That’s because students who fall into more than one high-needs category would not bring the districts money beyond the 35 percent. Advocates and budget officials at the state Department of Finance agree that every foster child would also qualify as low-income. Since districts won’t get extra funds to serve children in foster care, they won’t see it in their interest to identify them, [Jesse Hahnel, director of FosterEd for Oakland's National Center for Youth Law], above left, said. If a district doesn’t get any extra money to meet the accountability requirement, he asks, “why would it admit to serving a foster child?”
Foster children tend to disappear within schools because they look like everyone else and there are so few of them in each district. Add to that the fact that many of them move from home to home and from school to school, often in the middle of the school year and sometimes more than once. Districts often don’t know which of their students are in foster care, Hahnel said....
County offices of education and a handful of districts have been receiving separate state funding, some since 1981, to serve the needs of foster children, who typically have been taken from their families because of abuse or neglect. This year, the Foster Youth Services Program received slightly more than $15 million from the state. An October 2012 report that evaluated the six oldest programs showed they were producing positive results in areas such as high school completion, truancy, and expulsion rates. For example, foster youth in Mt. Diablo Unified in the San Francisco Bay Area had a 93 percent high school graduation rate in 2012, said James Wogan, who oversees child and family programs for the district. That compares to a national graduation rate for foster children of 45 percent, according to the report...
If the earmarked funding for the programs is eliminated, “no one from the state will even ask counties how their foster kids are doing,” Hahnel said. “If no one is asking, then I am very skeptical that county offices will continue funding programs for foster children. It might not happen immediately. But over time, I’m 100 percent certain that programs will disappear. In the end, it is going to be a tragedy for foster children because they will lose these crucial services.”....
Some advocates ...say that moving control to the local level, where there are few foster children, diminishes their voice.
“These are disenfranchised people,” Mt. Diablo’s Wogan said. “Who would come to school board meetings and say we need these programs?”