Localizing decision-making; an organizing principle stating decisions should be made at the lowest possible level of a government or an organization, rather than at a high level; a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.
Imagine a world where California public schools have all the resources they need, so educators are empowered to create effective structures and supports for student learning.
Teaching conditions and education careers may look different, and saying no to new fads may be easier. The answer to the question “How should we fund the education of all our students so all children can learn?” may look different.
In the real world, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 budget plan gives educators an opportunity to do that. Education guru John Mockler, who crafted the state’s constitutional minimum funding guarantee for schools (Proposition 98), has worked on 48 budgets in his career. He says he has never seen as dramatic a change as this before. (Mockler was featured in the December/January Educator.)
Be aware there is potential for high drama and for gratifying success because of the sheer volume of the changes offered. For example, CTA wants to ensure the data used in the new formula are accurate and calculated the same way in all schools. The controversy around moving adult education to community colleges already made the news.
What’s changing? Subsidiarity.
In what some are calling a “tectonic shift in everything,” the plan calls for localized decision-making. In particular, Gov. Brown is giving the school districts more power to decide what is best for students. He calls that localizing of decision-making “subsidiarity.”
The categorical funds outlined in California’s Education Code that apply to the work educators do are being collapsed into one funding formula. The governor’s stated intent for local control means eliminating state mandates that tie the hands of those doing the work, which provides numerous opportunities to impact school learning and teaching environments.
This increases the importance of the negotiations process because classroom experts — teachers, certificated personnel and education support professionals — will have more to discuss at the bargaining table.
The proposal phases in more money to schools with students who require more funding to educate. Students identified as having greater needs, thus higher costs, are students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, English language learners, and foster kids.
The Department of Finance released district-specific information regarding funding and numbers of students that fall in the various categories identified as needing more funding. To see your local numbers, go to www.cta.org/districtbreakdown.
Should lawmakers approve this element of the governor’s budget, it will likely occur on the same timeline as deliberations about the rest of the budget. The state constitution requires lawmakers to send the governor their final budget plan by June 15 so that he can sign it into law prior to the July 1 start of the next fiscal year.
CTA’s State Council of Education will review the budget proposal to understand its impact on, and opportunities for, issues like bargaining, class size, Common Core and teacher evaluation. Here are answers to frequently asked questions.
Should the new school formula be implemented before money owed to schools from past years is paid? CTA believes schools should be repaid the money they are owed from years of cuts before the new formula is fully implemented.
How will a local control funding plan impact class size reduction? The proposal allows K-3 class sizes to grow to 24 students in targeted classrooms, up 25 percent from the current maximum. CTA wants to ensure the state has adequate funding to reduce class size and to implement the new Core Curriculum Standards, already hamstrung by lack of funds.
What criteria will be used to determine which schools should receive the additional funding and how much they should receive? Each school gets a base grant tied to average daily attendance and extra money for English learners, low-income students and foster kids. CTA wants to ensure that whatever criteria are established are fair, and that the data used to make these decisions is both consistently measured and accurate.
When will the new funding formula be phased in? Changes kick in with the 2013-14 school year and phases in over the next seven years with the implementation of Proposition 30.
How will accountability be established to ensure the funds are being spent effectively? This is the biggest question for CTA. We believe accountability measures must be in place to ensure the money goes to students.
Follow what’s happening at the Capitol by checking our legislation page and read blog.cta.org for timely updates.