UPDATE, April 25, 2013: Governor Brown's campaign to pass the '13-'14 budget with his centerpiece of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for public education has reached a passionate political peak. As he state at meetings this week with school administrators, "the state has an obligation to provide more help to low-income [school] districts"..."[He noted] that nearly 60 percent of [California's] students are either from families that make less than $23K a year or speak a language other than English," according to Judy Lin of the Associated Press.
At left, Brown with, from left, Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Office of Ed., Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana of the Santa Ana USD, and John Deasy, Los Angeles USD.Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press.
Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), says "she agrees with [Brown's] aims to provide more local control and more financial aid to [EL students]...but...the governor is wrong to pit rich suburbs against poor communities. [Buchanan] said she would ..."raise the base grant amount to every school district for essential items...and maintain some existing funding rules."
"It looks like [Brown] is taking the gloves off and we're still here, working on a solution," she said.
Democratic senators enter the legislative ring with a bill to be announced today -- SB 69 -- that "will include measures to make districts more accountable for the extra spending on low-income [and EL] students...and eliminate a key feature of [LCFF]: bonus dollars awarded to districts in which high-neeeds students constitute a majority...," according to a post on EdSource Tuesday.
In a story in the Los Angeles Times posted last night, Anthony York and Chris Megerian report that Brown promised yesterday that lawmakers will get "the battle of their lives" if they balk at his bid to overhaul state education. "Everything we have to bear in this battle, we're bringing it in," Brown vowed.
April 5, 2013: The Quote: "...take the time to get it right." -- Rick Simpson, a former Sac County board of ed trustee and current education adviser to Speaker of the Assembly John Perez.
The Background: Since Governor Brown anounced his '13-'14 budget with its centerpiece of a dramatic change in public school funding (Local Control Funding Formula), the struggle between school districts and educators in high-need regions of the state and the specialized needs of individuals and districts has intensified. A majority of programs once protected by categorical funding (e.g., agriculture education, foster youth services, art and music, Cal-SAFE, GATE, among others) were grouped in a block grant that local districts, under LCFF, would have the authority to disperse.
Key political strategy for the LCFF proposal was placing it in the budget, so debate would focus on the financial aspects of the structure, and not policy -- which is the purview of other legislative committees. Like education.
The News: Yesterday, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) introduced AB 88, the Local Control Funding Formula in legislative form -- thus ensuring that the debate over the education policy that, if adopted, it will affect, takes places in the appropriate forum -- the Assembly Education Committee, of which Buchanan is chair.
John Fensterwald, editor of EdSource, has posted a lengthy and clear explanation of the issue this morning. Some excerpts [emphases ours]:
“We have been saying this is more than a budget matter,” said Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff and education adviser to Assembly Speaker John Pérez. “It has to be considered by policy committees. The governor’s staff has not done anything to facilitate this matter so we thought we would give them a hand.”...
...By the time full funding is phased in – Brown is aiming for seven years – districts with the highest concentration of high-needs students would get $3,000 to $4,000 more per student than districts with
predominantly high-income students. No district would receive less that it gets now, and most would get considerably more, in part because Proposition 98 revenues are projected to rise substantially over the next four to five years.
Brown would also grant districts more power to determine how money is spent, permanently eliminating most categorical programs, while requiring districts to provide detailed, transparent accountability plans for parents and the public.
“This would be a sweeping change with a profound impact the way we fund public education potentially for the next quarter-century,” said Simpson. “Lots of questions will need to be answered.”...
Brown would prefer [to]...negotiate the details as part of the budget process and limit review to the Legislature’s budget committees...Sending the reforms through policy committees – the Assembly and Senate Education Committees – creates potentially complicated timing and tactics. Passage of a budget by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, requires only a majority vote. Passage of a bill to take effect with the budget, under an expedited deadline, would require a two-thirds vote; that would be hard to get, even with Democrats in solid command of the Legislature, because support will likely fall along suburban-urban lines, not party lines....
It still may be possible to get the governor’s plan through policy committees in time, said Simpson, but “it would require a lot of effort to get it done.” Another option would be to delay the start of the funding for a year while working out details. “If the choice is between getting the plan done quickly or getting it right, I’d say take the time to get it right,” Simpson said....