Ten Years into LCFF, the Promise of Equitable Outcomes has not Been Fulfilled
San Francisco—Today, two premier civil rights legal advocacy organizations who helped shape California’s landmark school funding legislation a decade ago, Public Advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, released “Realizing the Promise of LCFF: Recommendations from the First Ten Years.” Issued as the legislature prepares to discuss the governor’s proposals to update the Local Control Funding Formula accountability system and using 72 districts as case studies, this report reviews LCFF implementation to offer guidance on improving equitable outcomes and community engagement as we approach the transformational policy’s 10 year anniversary.
Signed into law in 2013, LCFF is one of the boldest public education experiments any state has ever taken to improve student outcomes through greater equity, transparency, local accountability, and meaningful community engagement. Over the past decade, it has fundamentally changed how public schools are funded and held accountable. However, as the report uncovers, the promise of LCFF—addressing systemic inequities that create barriers to student success—has not yet been fulfilled.
“Equitable funding, meaningful community engagement and accountability for both are fundamental to LCFF. Many districts are still using equity funds for general services while marginalized students are not getting the programs and services they need,” said Alice Li, Senior Program Associate at Public Advocates. “Our review also revealed most districts are failing to engage students and families in an inclusive and authentic manner. Communities can’t address what they don’t know.”
While the report highlights some bright spots, it underscores the need for significant innovation in order to strengthen accountability measures that can ensure a comprehensive strategic planning process and better engagement. Top level recommendations include: more oversight, support and authority for County Offices of Education to hold districts accountable; investing in an innovative, usable, web-based strategic planning platform that can make funding transparent and easier to understand; strengthening community engagement to meaningfully address disparities in student outcomes and improve opportunities for all students, including Black students.
“It is concerning that 85% of districts received feedback that LCAP engagement was not accessible enough—meaning that students and families did not feel that they had meaningful input in the decision-making process,” added Victor Leung, Director of Education Equity at ACLU of Southern California. “Students and families know what they need and are often in the best position to identify and implement solutions. It is critical that they have a seat at the table when districts are contemplating how best to support them.”
Establishing LCFF was a bold first step in the right direction. As California enters the next phase of this critical work, it must continue to improve this system to ensure high-needs students in our state receive the resources they need to thrive in schools and beyond.