The LA Times reported recently on a poll from USC and Stanford institutes showing that more than half of voters had never heard of read about the Local Control Funding Formula.
This is treated as bad news, since LCFF is supposed to make parent engagement a priority. And the funding in LCFF is supposed to be directed in part the Local Control and Accountability Plans, which are supposed to be developed by local districts with parent participation.
I had high hopes for the LCAPs – until I saw them actually put together. They are a long, laborious, bureaucratic process. They don’t leave room for real parent input—they instead involve coming up with detailed and technical answers to meet state templates and questions that are highly technical. The end results have been very long (sometimes hundreds of pages) and confusing documents.
Sadly, participating in such exercises is not a good use of anyone’s time; parents would be much better off spending that time with their children.
Alas, attempts to simplify the process, and open it up to real direction and planning by parents are going nowhere. The line of LCAP backers is we just need more and better outreach to parents.
The urgency is likely to be ramped up because the State Board of Education approved the very outlines of a new accountability system for the state’s schools last week. That system is highly undercooked—it would include all kinds of data that wouldn’t yet exist. And drafts have been found to be nearly incomprehensible by everyone other than education bureaucrats.
Plus, this new system is built on top of the LCFF and LCAP structures. In other words, schools are supposed to be judged on what’s in those plans.
I watched that state board meeting, and it was maddening. The board is building Potemkin villages on top of its Potemkin villages. Why?
Obnoxiously, board members and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson have responded to criticism of all this complexity by saying, blithely, that life and education are pretty complicated. So, they argue, these systems should mirror education’s complexity. Effectively, they’re saying, parent input doesn’t matter.
Fine. So why should parents care to inform themselves about this stuff?
Burn these Potemkin villages, and start over.