In this policy brief, we use the case of California's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to provide policy makers and educators guidance on how to involve the public in goal setting and resource distribution decisions. We provide clarity around who is and is not participating, why, and what broader lessons we can draw for implementing federal and state education policies mandating public engagement. Our findings indicate tremendous room for improvement. LCFF's target populations (e.g., low-income, English learners) are not more likely to be aware of or participate in decisions than nontargeted groups, which suggests weak accountability for the use of public funds by the policy's target populations. Although LCFF has defined a broad set of stakeholders, only a narrow segment of the public (i.e., individuals with stronger ties to and positive views of schools) is aware of and engaging with the policy. Finally, we find a substantial gap between actual participation in LCFF and interest in participation, which may relate to a lack of self-efficacy, time, trust, perceived appropriateness, and information. As states and districts respond to mandates for engagement, these results suggest the need for greater investments in: (1) communication, (2) targeting a range of stakeholders, and (3) capacity building.

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