New School Funding Demands Vigilant Oversight


California school districts receiving a bump in revenue to help them do a better job of providing services to students who are low-income, in foster care, English Learners or have special needs, have until Friday to submit plans detailing how they will spend those funds to the state.

The Local Control Funding plan put in place by Gov. Brown earlier this year is intended to help districts narrow the achievement gap and increase graduation rates among these at-risk student populations.

The program required districts to engage parents in the process to determine where and how money should be spent.

It is a bold move to help students, but could quickly fizzle into another failed program without proper oversight by state education officials and parents.

While many school district officials have said they are happy to be receiving the added funding, they have done so with the caveat that the new money will not make up for five years of budget cuts during California’s financial crisis.

This week, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued a ruling that could help strengthen oversight of school district spending,

Judge James Chalfant ruled that the state is obligated to ensure school districts are following state and federal laws, but has failed to live up to its responsibility to ensure school districts are providing meaningful specialized instruction to the thousands of students across the state who don’t speak English.

Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, said the state’s failure to act has “created a virtual caste system” that harms tens of thousands of children, nearly all of whom are U.S. citizens.

As students in local districts return to school, we want to remind parents to be vigilant when it comes to how their school is meeting the special needs of its most vulnerable students. Demand transparency and accountability — it’s in all our interests that these programs are successful.


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