State auditor will review how $30 billion in Local Control Funding Formula grant money was spent

New reports show that six years after Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature approved a sweeping overhaul in how school funds were divvied up, the evidence is mixed that the overhaul is accomplishing its main goal: improving the academic performance of the 1.2 million English language learners in California public schools.

Under the law, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, schools with high percentages of English learners, foster children and poor families get additional funding that in 2013 was described as being specifically to help these students achieve proficiency in key subjects. Since then, about $30 billion in LCFF grants have been distributed.

But a 2015 decision by then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to allow LCFF dollars to go for teacher raises and other general uses has led to critics such as Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, arguing that struggling students aren’t getting the help they were promised in 2013. Earlier this year, Weber persuaded a legislative panel to have state Auditor Elaine Howle review how the grants are being spent and possibly examine their effectiveness.

Reformers see bad faith in how law was implemented

The pending audit is highly anticipated by education reform groups which have for years accused the state government of showing bad faith in implementing LCFF. 

Defenders of the law have some data that back up claims it is working as intended. An EdSource analysis of the state’s Smarter Balanced test scores released earlier this month showed that schools with high numbers of LCFF students had seen a 9 percent increase in student English proficiency over the last five years. But the same analysis showed little change in the “achievement gap” between white and Asian students and those of Latino and African American descent. 

And a Public Policy Institute of California report released in August found that increased funding hadn’t changed a fundamental problem that makes progress difficult in struggling schools: They still had teachers who were considerably less experienced than those in wealthier communities. These schools are also far more likely to have teachers offering instruction in fields in which they had no training. The PPIC suggested there was evidence that these issues had gotten worse in recent years.

Because of strong teacher job-protection laws, veteran teachers have considerable latitude about where they work. Schools in wealthy communities that often get help from parental and community fundraisers have a huge edge over schools in poor communities where teachers often feel they have no choice but to bring in basic supplies for students from destitute families.

Civil rights lawyers again target LAUSD over spending

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school district, a formal complaint has been filed by the Public Advocates civil rights law firm that alleges that much of the $1 billion-plus in LCFF money the district gets annually is being used in ways that are not properly documented as required by state law. The complaint includes numerous examples from district records of LCFF grants being spent in questionable ways.

In 2016, Public Advocates filed a similar complaint against L.A. Unified, which some district officials strongly disputed. But the next year, the district agreed to provide an additional $151 million to 50 schools with high concentrations of English learners, foster children and students from poor families.

6 comments

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  1. Dawn Urbanek
    Dawn Urbanek 18 October, 2019, 07:47

    The Local Control Funding Formula is Unconstitutional on its face.

    My argument is laid out here.
    https://www.cusdwatch.com/index.php/district-funding

    What most people do not realize is that under LCFF the State limited K-12 funding to 2007-08 levels plus inflation not to be reached until 2021. And the state intentionally set the base funding grant low so that they could withhold funding from low poverty school districts like the Capistrano Unified School District. To be Constitutional, the base funding grant should have been set at a minimum of $9,000 per pupil. The State set the base funding grant at $6,500. Low poverty districts that are primarily funded by the base grant have been on life support since the formula was enacted. Governor Brown built his $55 billion dollar High Speed Rail fund by intentionally underfunding wealth suburban school districts. I am very happy the Auditor is looking at this.

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  2. michael
    michael 21 October, 2019, 08:05

    Its much like the fox watching the hen house. The liberal machine leaves a trail of slime everywhere. This is unlikely to lead to any consequences.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 21 October, 2019, 09:47

    Comrades

    So so insensitive. It’s always for the kids! Always.

    Remember…..the level of aptitude of all government workers mirrors DMV…..so getting a few numbers a bit messy ain’t much….get over it….

    Reply this comment
  4. Taheeta J. Bunns
    Taheeta J. Bunns 23 October, 2019, 16:50

    From experience the measure funded huge increases for existing teachers, 8%-10% bonuses plus annual increases, much less for new hires. New teachers are way, way, way below law enforcement new hires. The education requirements for new teachers keeps increasing. This is a money machine for state universities. The teavher union reps screw new hires.
    Many contracts contain substantial yearly increase for 30 plus years($3500) annually to pump up final pension….
    cause…………………….it is all about the children, the 35 foot boat, the time share in Hawaii, and the condo in Tahoe.

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 24 October, 2019, 10:12

    Comrade Taheeta is a welcome addition to CWD.

    Ah! For the Kids. Vunderfool-

    A boat thrown ain’t bad too.

    Reply this comment
  6. Edward Ryan
    Edward Ryan 9 November, 2019, 18:27

    Edward Ryan
    Edward Ryan8 November, 2019, 12:26
    I’d like to comment on corruption by the California Attorney General’s failure to investigate a formal 75 page complaint on the LAPD Crime-buster Vigilante Facebook scandal matter. This is a serious matter as the Los Angeles criminal justice system skews when it comes to fair justice for all as LA homeless are attacked by LAPD supported vigilantes, then arrested and jailed if the try to fight back in self- defense. Now there is proof of “jury trial rigging “by LA Prosecutor and LAPD Slo for Topanga. Both are members of the secret vigilante Facebook group, and 2 other Vigilante group members as witnesses for a bogus littering trial where Van Nuys Judge Harmond seems to play along by issuing an extreme sentence. LAPD command now spreads disinformation saying LAPD members only posted insults to homeless when the truth is LAPD supplied tracking and other info to vigilante members. The info was used to do violent crimes and community terror stalking onto targeted homeless victims. A homeless advocate and activist for LA political reform was harassed then convicted and incarcerated for months when he was attacked on 12/29/16 in Van Nuys by the same LAPD crew. False police reports were used and judge Mulcahy Van Nuys court prevented the mentioning of vigilante abuse at trial. This happened to Ed Ryan [email protected] who had to flee LA after release because of more vigilante harassment by LAPD connected crews. Ryan’s jaw was smashed by a vigilante attacker wielding a hammer and LAPD refuse to take his complaint and investigate. Ryan now lives in Mass as LA Court court issued a probation violation warrant to further silence him. LA superior Court Presiding Judge, Kevin Brazile has so far ignored Ryan’s comprehensive complaint. Ryan challenges reporters to read the 8/1/18 complaint to Atty Gen Becerra that has plenty of screen shots of captured vigilante and LAPD postings to surely warrant the Cal AG to investigate, but he remains silent on the issue. Also remaining totally silent on this atre LA Mayor Garcetti I’d like to discuss Corruption in Los Angeles as the LAPD Crime-buster vigilante Scandal is being ignored and all LA city Councilors. LA City Atty Furey also is silent even though his long time Deputy Karin Philips is involved and is being reported to Cal BBO flor ethical violations of not disclosing vigilante group membership by entire prosecution team in People v Kevin Perelman , the van Nuys Superior Court jury trial in front of LA Superior Court Harmond that was rigged Atty Philips and LAPD SLO Dines

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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