Abstract

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.

Introduction

In recent years, the call for meaningful public engagement in federal, state, and local education policy has grown louder (California Education Code 2013; ESSA 2015; Colorado Education Code 2019; Preston 2019). Such engagement refers to the involvement of parents and community members in decisions “through direct hands-on work in cooperation” with state, district, and/or school stakeholders (Zukin et al. 2006, p. 51). Meaningful public engagement in establishing goals, creating improvement and accountability plans, and/or redistributing resources is codified into law at the federal and state levels (Council of Chief State School Officers and Partners for Each and Every Child 2017). For example, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA 2015) requires stakeholder engagement in the development and ongoing review of district Consolidated Plans that specify compliance with the law, and Comprehensive Support and Improvement Plans for schools not meeting state goals. As a result, districts around the country are grappling with how to meaningfully engage stakeholders. In this policy brief, we draw on the case of California's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)—which includes one of the most significant state mandates for civic participation in educational decision making—to provide greater clarity around who is and is not participating, why, and what broader lessons to draw. In what follows, we explore the following research questions: (1) What factors are associated with engagement in LCFF? (2) What factors are associated with interest in future participation? and (3) What factors may be constraining engagement and interest?

LCFF as A Case Study

LCFF shifted California's school finance model from a purely categorical one to a more flexible system where local communities have greater discretion in how funds are used. In addition to base funding for all students, the new finance model allocated additional funds for students qualifying as English learner (EL), low income (LI), and/or foster youth (FY) (hereafter “target students”). The law mandates that districts involve a broad group of stakeholders—including target and general population students and parents, educators, and the community—in developing Local Accountability Plans (LCAPs) that define how they will spend funds to achieve district goals (particularly improved achievement of target students), which are reviewed, approved, and monitored by county offices of education.1 At a minimum, districts must (1) present the LCAP or annual update to a parent or EL advisory committee for review, (2) notify the public that they can provide written feedback, (3) hold at least one public meeting to solicit comments on the LCAP or annual update, and (4) adopt the LCAP/update in a public meeting.2

The intended purposes of public engagement are to (1) promote accountability—by increasing awareness and involvement in budget and goal decisions, district leaders should be more compelled to allocate funds in alignment with stated goals, and (2) enhance decisions—by requiring local stakeholder input, district leaders are assumed to make better decisions that reflect local needs and improve outcomes (Marsh and Hall 2017).

What We Know about Civic Engagement in Education

Research on engagement in educational decision making provides some insight into who participates and why. Marginalized groups such as immigrants, low-income individuals, ELs, and people of color are often less likely to engage in—and at times are excluded from—school and district decision-making (Luet 2015; Marsh et al. 2015; Ishimaru et al. 2016), for reasons such as language barriers (Shirley 1997; Abrams and Gibbs 2002) and limited time (Waanders, Mendez, and Downer 2007). Successful engagement depends on both the capacity of districts/schools to reach community stakeholders (e.g., staff resources, awareness of best practices) and the capacity of the community to participate (e.g., their knowledge, language skills) (Malen and Ogawa 1988; Bryk et al. 1998; Gonzalez, Moll, and Amanti 2005). Stakeholders’ attitudes and beliefs also can shape willingness to engage, including their trust in schools and beliefs about school performance (Bryk et al. 1998; McDonnell and Weatherford 2000; Marsh 2007). Additionally, dissatisfaction with public schools can also motivate engagement, specifically, increasing voter turnout in school board elections (a form of political engagement, e.g., Lutz and Iannaccone 1986).

Although LCFF is a relatively new policy, case study research (Humphrey and Koppich 2014; Koppich et al. 2015; Marsh and Hall 2017) shows that districts commonly tried to engage stakeholders by hosting community-wide meetings to help set district-wide goals, posting the LCAP online with a portal for comments, and using online stakeholder surveys. In many cases, stakeholders’ ideas were included in LCAPs and later implemented, such as adding counselors and enrichment programs. Nevertheless, research shows that districts struggled to gain widespread participation, particularly among traditionally marginalized groups. In a survey of a representative sample of California superintendents, 88 percent reported achieving less than “excellent” levels of stakeholder engagement, and 65 percent said they experienced difficulty obtaining input from parents/guardians of LCFF target groups (Marsh and Koppich 2018). Further, 91 percent reporting “average” or “poor” levels of engagement attributed it to a belief that stakeholders were not interested in participating (Marsh and Koppich 2018). Yet, to date, there have been limited data from the public writ large to understand whether they are interested, the characteristics of those actually participating, and what may be getting in the way of greater interest and participation.

In summary, existing research indicates that successfully engaging a diverse, representative group of individuals in educational decision making is difficult and highly dependent on conditions for which policy makers have control (e.g., provision of language translation, time, staff) as well as other, less malleable factors (such as individuals’ beliefs about the public school system and trust in schools). Perhaps not surprisingly, then, research on California's new LCFF policy indicates that district leaders have struggled to attain widespread and inclusive engagement. Consequently, leaders have made some untested assumptions about the lack of public interest to explain these struggles. We examine these and other possible explanations in our research.

Data Informing This Brief

For this policy brief, we use data from the Policy Analysis of California Education (PACE) and University of Southern California (USC) Rossier School of Education's statewide representative poll of 1,202 registered voters, fielded online (in English and Spanish), in August 2016.3 As part of a broader LCFF study (Humphrey et al. 2017), we also draw on 138 interviews, conducted between September and November 2016, with involved parents and district, community, and labor leaders.4 Nine districts were sampled to represent state variation in enrollment, region, urbanicity, and proportions of target students.

We use a variety of data to explore how individuals’ characteristics relate to their engagement with schools, along three dimensions: (1) Awareness of but no participation in LCFF-related events;5 (2) participation in LCFF-related events; and (3) interest in participating in goal setting and/or resource allocation decisions at either the district or school level.6 Informed by prior research, we examine how three categories of characteristics influence their engagement. First, we examine how individuals’ age, gender, race/ethnicity, and economic factors relate to engagement. Second, given that individuals with strong relationships with public education are more likely to engage, we examine how ties to schools and/or unions relate to engagement. Third, we explore how individuals’ values and beliefs relate to engagement. Building on this exploration, we use survey and interview data to examine factors that constrain individuals’ engagement and interest in engagement. More details on our data and research methods are available in a separate online Appendix that can be accessed on Education Finance and Policy’s Web site at www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/suppl/10.1162/edfp_a_00318.

Overall Patterns of Engagement

Overall, we find that, despite the state mandate, participation is low. Only 5 percent of voters reported attending an LCFF/LCAP-related meeting. There was also very limited awareness of the policy overall: Only 15 percent of all voters and 17 percent of voters with children were at least somewhat aware of LCFF. Despite these low rates, we find commonalities and nuance in how voters’ demographics, ties to schools, and attitudes and beliefs are associated with awareness of and participation in LCFF. Table 1 summarizes the relationships between predictors and outcomes (see table A.3 in the online appendix for the regression results).

Table 1.
Summary of Predictors Across Outcomes
Awareness of but no Participation in LCFF-Related EventsParticipation in LCFF-Related EventsInterest in Participating in LCFF-Related Decisions
Demographics Income level between Income level between Age* (−) 
 $75K and $150K* (+) $150K and $500K* (+) Latinx/Hispanic* (+) 
Ties to Schools & Unions Children enrolled* (+) Children enrolled*** (+) Children enrolled*** (+) 
 Having children* (+) Teacher-affiliation** (+) Having children** (+) 
 Teacher-affiliation*** (+)   
Attitudes & Beliefs  Values alignment*** (+) Values alignment*** (+) 
   ``Gives school D grade”* (+) 
   “Don't know”*** (−) 
   Distrust*** (+) 
Awareness of but no Participation in LCFF-Related EventsParticipation in LCFF-Related EventsInterest in Participating in LCFF-Related Decisions
Demographics Income level between Income level between Age* (−) 
 $75K and $150K* (+) $150K and $500K* (+) Latinx/Hispanic* (+) 
Ties to Schools & Unions Children enrolled* (+) Children enrolled*** (+) Children enrolled*** (+) 
 Having children* (+) Teacher-affiliation** (+) Having children** (+) 
 Teacher-affiliation*** (+)   
Attitudes & Beliefs  Values alignment*** (+) Values alignment*** (+) 
   ``Gives school D grade”* (+) 
   “Don't know”*** (−) 
   Distrust*** (+) 

Notes: Predictors are displayed as rows and outcomes are displayed as columns. Positive association (+) and negative association (−). Bold signifies the predictor is significant across at least two outcomes. LCFF = Local Control Funding Formula.

***p < 0.001; **p < 0.01; *p < 0.05.

Key Lessons

Lesson 1: The Target Population Is Not More Likely to Be Aware of or Participate in LCFF

Given that LCFF explicitly requires schools and districts to engage with parents/guardians of target students (i.e., ELs, LIs, and FY), one may have expected to see higher awareness and participation of these particular groups. Our results indicate a different pattern. Lower-income voters and voters of color were no more likely to be aware of or participate in LCFF than their higher-income or white peers. Although the policy was not explicitly designed to increase engagement based on race/ethnicity, targeted EL students and FY are disproportionately black and Latinx (California Department of Education 2016). Without LCFF, research suggests that lower income and nonwhite voters would be less likely to be engaged with public schools (Campbell et al. 1976; Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980; Bingham Powell 1986). The fact that we find similar levels of awareness between low- and high-income, and nonwhite and white, voters signals some success.

Nevertheless, the fact that we do not find higher engagement among the target populations is troubling. The policy emphasizes target population engagement as an accountability mechanism to ensure that additional funds are spent by districts in ways that specifically benefit targeted students. Without increased target population engagement, the accountability mechanism may not be working as intended.

Lesson 2: Stronger School Ties and Values Alignment with Schools Predict LCFF Awareness and Participation

LCFF defines public stakeholders broadly. State statute specifies that districts hold public meetings and solicit comments from members of the public7 and LCAP regulations define the public to include parents, pupils, district personnel, and community members, among others (e.g., local bargaining units). Our results, however, indicate that a narrow segment of the public is engaging. We find that individuals who are aware of or participate in LCFF are those who already have connections to schools or whose values are reflected by their local schools. Individuals who have children (including those who have children attending public schools) and those with connections to teaching have a higher probability of being aware of, participating in, and/or expressing interest in participating in LCFF decision making than those without these school ties. Although perhaps not surprising, these findings conflict with the policy's intent. The theory behind “local control” suggests that the public shares an interest in the quality of local public schools. As a result, the public can help inform district leaders about community needs and can enhance support for the district by, for example, voting to approve local bonds. If state leaders truly envisioned districts involving community members who do not have established ties to schools, our research indicates this may not be occurring.

Additionally, those with higher values alignment8 had a higher probability of participating in LCFF decision making than those who did not share these beliefs. One could interpret these findings in several ways, including: (1) individuals with more positive views of schools are more inclined to invest time, (2) the act of participating leads to more positive views of schools, or (3) districts target parents least likely to resist administrators’ decisions or make waves, to game the original intent of engagement as a public accountability measure. Although we do not have evidence to determine the exact causal mechanisms or direction, future research might investigate these explanations further.

Together, these findings suggest that district leaders may have some room to broaden engagement from the public. Districts could increase engagement by improving outreach to nonparent community members; yet other factors predicting engagement, such as values alignment, may be more difficult to affect in the short term.

Lesson 3: There Is a Disconnect Between Current Public Awareness/Participation and Public Interest in Participating

There is a clear disconnect between the low levels of public awareness of and participation in LCFF (noted above) and high reported interest in participating. The majority of voters (60 percent) surveyed reported being very interested or somewhat interested in being involved in goal setting and resource allocation decisions.9 Further, a larger majority of all voters (67 percent) said they would like to be more involved in educational decisions in their community. These figures contrast sharply with the views of superintendents statewide—where 91 percent attributed average to poor levels of engagement to a lack of stakeholder interest (Marsh and Koppich 2018)—and indicate an opportunity to transform interest into actual engagement in LCFF-related decisions.

Several characteristics are related to expressing higher interest in participating in LCFF-related decision making. Whereas Latinx voters were no more likely to participate in LCFF, they were the only racial group associated with higher interest in participating in resource allocation/goal setting than white voters. Given the large number of Latinx ELs statewide, targeted Latinx outreach could also increase target group participation.

Interest in participation also relates to voters’ views/attitudes about schools. First, individuals with higher values alignment expressed greater interest. This may indicate that those interested in helping with district goal setting and resource allocation decisions want to because they see the schools in a positive light and have some hope for what their participation might contribute. Yet, the poll results also indicate that voters with more negative views of schools were also interested in participating. That includes individuals who gave lower ratings of school performance and reported higher distrust of education leaders. As such, it is not just a positive sense of values alignment that may motivate interest but also negative attitudes. In fact, the magnitude of the relationship between positive (i.e., values alignment) and negative (i.e., lower levels of satisfaction with school performance, distrust of school leaders) feelings toward schools and interest in participating is similar. Perhaps voters with negative attitudes were motivated by a desire to make changes and improve upon the perceived faulty system. However, a key difference between voters with negative feelings toward schools and positive feelings toward schools is, as noted above, that those with more positive views of schools were translating their interest into action by participating in LCFF-related events at higher levels.

In sum, there may be opportunities for district leaders and policy makers to convert untapped interest into greater participation in LCFF decision making. These results also help discredit assumptions about a lack of community interest. Leaders should focus on other factors that constrain engagement and that may explain the disconnect between high interest and low participation in LCFF. We explore these factors next.

Lesson 4: Self-Efficacy, Time, Lack of Trust, Perceptions of Roles, and Lack of Information May Influence the Gap Between Stakeholder Interest and Participation

Drawing on poll and case data we identify five factors that appear to constrain participation and may help to explain the gap between high levels of interest in engagement and low levels of actual engagement. These two data sources rely on slightly different questions: The poll asks voters expressing uncertainty or little to no interest in engaging the reasons for their uncertainty or lack of interest and the case interviewers asked district stakeholders to describe general barriers to participation and/or reasons for low levels of participation. Despite these differences, both the poll and case study data point to similar underlying conditions affecting both (see table 2 for the aggregate poll results).

Table 2.
Reasons for Lack of Interest in Resource-Allocation and/or Goal-Setting Decisions
Main ReasonMajor ReasonMinor ReasonNot a ReasonReasonDK/NA
“I do not have children in school” 56% 14% 9% 19% 2% 
M = 3.02      
SD = 1.27      
“I do not have the information or experience to make participation worthwhile” 28% 30% 23% 15% 4% 
M = 2.63      
SD = 1.16      
“I do not have time to participate” 21% 18% 26% 30% 5% 
M = 2.20      
SD = 1.21      
“I do not trust that school/district leaders will value or make use of my input” 15% 23% 25% 31% 7% 
M = 2.08      
SD = 1.19      
“I believe these decisions are the responsibility of elected school board 17% 17% 24% 35% 6% 
members and professional educators” 
M = 2.05      
SD = 1.21      
“The meetings are usually held at an inconvenient time” 9% 14% 27% 40% 11% 
M = 1.69      
SD = 1.02      
“The meetings are usually held at an inconvenient location” 6% 11% 25% 47% 12% 
M = 1.50      
SD = 1.02      
Main ReasonMajor ReasonMinor ReasonNot a ReasonReasonDK/NA
“I do not have children in school” 56% 14% 9% 19% 2% 
M = 3.02      
SD = 1.27      
“I do not have the information or experience to make participation worthwhile” 28% 30% 23% 15% 4% 
M = 2.63      
SD = 1.16      
“I do not have time to participate” 21% 18% 26% 30% 5% 
M = 2.20      
SD = 1.21      
“I do not trust that school/district leaders will value or make use of my input” 15% 23% 25% 31% 7% 
M = 2.08      
SD = 1.19      
“I believe these decisions are the responsibility of elected school board 17% 17% 24% 35% 6% 
members and professional educators” 
M = 2.05      
SD = 1.21      
“The meetings are usually held at an inconvenient time” 9% 14% 27% 40% 11% 
M = 1.69      
SD = 1.02      
“The meetings are usually held at an inconvenient location” 6% 11% 25% 47% 12% 
M = 1.50      
SD = 1.02      

Notes: These questions were asked of all 43 percent of respondents (n = 502) who indicated “Not too interested,” “Not interested at all,” or “Don't know” (DK)/“Not Applicable” (NA) when asked about their interest in engaging in resource-allocation and/or goal-setting decisions. Although not depicted here, when separated out, survey respondents who have children ranked these major and main reasons for not participating in the same order. Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding. M = mean; SD = standard deviation.

Self-Efficacy

Voters who did not want to participate commonly cited a lack of experience to make participation worthwhile (58 percent of uninterested and unsure voters reported this as a leading reason). In case studies, some district leaders echoed a concern about individual capacity to engage, noting a lack of “system savvy” about how budgets and districts operate. One administrator explained, “We're trying to have really complex conversations around budgets and fiscal issues that lots of [community] folks don't understand.” Several districts profiled in case studies found that parents were still confused about LCFF even after they worked to educate stakeholders on data, budgets, and the purpose of the new funding system. One community advocate believed parents also lacked political competencies, noting they “didn't really understand their connection to their own powerful voice and how they can advocate for the things that they felt could be administered differently in the schools through leveraging LCFF dollars.”

Limited Time

More than a third (39 percent) of voters not interested or unsure about engaging cited lack of time as an explanation. Similarly, community members and parents in the case studies reported that limited time made it difficult to participate in LCFF activities. Commenting generally about parents, one parent explained,

I think that people just don't have the time. They are working multiple jobs. Both parents in the family work. There is not a lot of community participation as far as fundraising and spending time at the school. I think that's been a real hurdle that we've tried to get over over the years, past that hurdle. It's really hard to get the parent participation.

Although most districts scheduled LCFF events in multiple venues and in non-work and weekend hours, when constrained by time, engagement may have become less of a priority for busy families.

Lack of Trust

More than a third (38 percent) of uninterested voters cited “a distrust that education leaders would value or use their input” as a leading explanation. Consistent with survey results, case study interviewees reported that trust (or lack thereof) affected stakeholder interest in participating in LCFF. One community leader said, “So I think there was just the sense of fear and distrust, a lot of fear.” A civic leader in another district explained the lack of trust this way:

All of those groups have tried to work with the district and … the district has not listened to their suggestions about how to better do these community engagement meetings… I saw it with my own eyes, they don't do a really great job at translating [not literal language, but ideas in clear ways] and then parents … are confused, they don't even know why they're going to those meetings in the first place, let alone going there organized to say, “District, we want you to do X, Y and Z by the end of it,” and there's really no space for that at all.

The perceived lack of communication in this case fostered mistrust and inhibited community participation.

Perceptions of Roles

Another reason cited by 34 percent of voters unsure or uninterested in engaging was the belief that goal-setting/resource-allocation decisions were the responsibility of the school board and educators. Consistent with poll results, some case district leaders assumed that parents embraced this mindset and at times defended the choice to limit the scope of LCFF conversations to avoid resource decisions because “moms and dads” did not see it as their place to “talk about the budget … they just want it fixed.” Nevertheless, some external partners questioned these “paternalistic” assumptions, characterizing them as politically motivated strategies to protect district interests and keep community members at bay (see Marsh and Hall 2017).

Lack of Information

A final factor likely contributing to low participation was limited awareness and understanding. As noted, when asked about and provided a brief description of LCFF, only 15 percent of all voters and 17 percent of voters with children said they had heard or read about LCFF. Similarly, many interviewees believed a lack of clarity about the policy and the rationale for the community to engage strained efforts to attract participants. One community organizer noted that, “the community at large, doesn't have an understanding of the LCAPs.” A different civic leader agreed with this point and argued that district leaders often “do not train parents to understand the policy.” The feedback she received from her community was that “the district tried to train us on the LCAP and it just wasn't good… Parents didn't understand what it was.” Parents also attested to the opaque nature of district LCAP training. One parent struggled with “how I can understand this jargon, this hidden language that is hidden from the community.” This lack of understanding may have limited both interest and participation in engagement activities.

Individuals interviewed also attested to a lack of information about opportunities to engage with LCFF and the planning process. One district leader explained,

After the event [parents] have said, “Oh, I didn't know about this,” or, “How come nobody told me?” But we encouraged our parents, “come to our meetings, so you can be involved, and be informed.” It's that struggle that we're having on getting that information communicated to them… . We'll send the flyer, we'll do other forms of communication, but then when it comes to our meeting, we don't get … that much participation.

Community members echoed these sentiments. “Even making the LCAP available for people to offer a comment on the LCAP, they don't do that,” said one community leader, “they don't do a good job of making sure that people know.”

In summary, there are a host of factors that may explain low levels of LCFF engagement and why interest does not always translate into participation, including a lack of self-efficacy, time, trust, perceived appropriateness, and information. Below, we return to some of these factors to identify possible improvement strategies.

Conclusion and Implications

A growing number of federal, state, and local policies mandate public engagement in school and district decision making (California Education Code 2013; ESSA 2015; Colorado Education Code 2019; Preston 2019). We leverage the case of LCFF to generate a set of lessons that policy makers and practitioners should consider as they implement ESSA and other policy-engagement requirements. In summary, we find that even in light of mandated engagement, participation tends to be low and not fully inclusive of target populations, the broader community, and of those with less positive views of schools. In the aggregate, a minority of voters report participating in LCFF engagement opportunities but a substantially larger number express a desire to participate—a finding that points to a “blind spot” of district leaders who assume that stakeholders lacked interest. Although many of the factors associated with greater interest and involvement are not particularly malleable (e.g., age, being a parent), our research suggests several policy-relevant ideas for capitalizing on untapped interest in engaging and generating new interest among the public.

Communication

Low levels of awareness of LCFF and opportunities to participate suggest a need for greater communication. State and district leaders could better disseminate information about the goals and mechanics of the policy, how and when the public can participate, and the level of knowledge or experience required—which theoretically should be minimal because educating citizens should be part of the process. Leaders might also target another reported reason for lack of interest in engagement, the perception that these decisions should be made by board members and educators. By sharing examples of past engagement efforts in which citizens contributed ideas used in final decisions and plans, leaders might shift the mindset around roles, build trust, and entice participation. Communication strategies could include greater use of social and print media, as well as outreach to community-based organizations and networks.

Targeting the Full Range of Stakeholders

Even though LCFF explicitly targeted LI students, low-income voters were no more likely to participate than higher income voters. To engage this group, efforts are needed to reduce barriers related to time and location of meetings and transportation (e.g., scheduling events at multiple times, in convenient locations). Similarly, to ensure participation of diverse stakeholders, it would behoove leaders to consider linguistically and culturally relevant strategies (e.g., providing language translation, encouraging outreach and partnerships via community-based organizations, recognizing and honoring existing funds of knowledge).10 Another group worthy of attention is nonparents, who have a stake in the quality of local schools. Outreach to nonparents should convey the importance of their involvement. Leaders may also want to consider ways to engage voters with more negative attitudes—such as encouraging seasoned participants to bring another parent who typically does not attend such events, or partnering with community organizers to reach out to these stakeholders.

To draw in individuals with limited time, leaders might consider using technology to solicit input in quick and convenient ways (e.g., surveys or polls). One district studied placed posters with QR (Quick Response) codes linking to a district survey, allowing students to provide input via smart phones. State and local leaders could adapt such methods to capture broader public input.

Capacity Building

Training and workshops to help citizens develop particular knowledge/skills or to highlight how existing knowledge/skills can be leveraged in decision making might enhance the quantity and quality of participation. The addition of $13.3 million to the 2018–19 California budget to support capacity-building around community engagement was a step in the right direction (Fensterwald 2018). Other organizations can also help. For example, Californians for Justice developed student and parent engagement tools that may assist with communication and training.11 Partnerships with external organizations can also enhance outreach and facilitation—ensuring that the voices of historically marginalized groups are represented and taken seriously.12

In sum, policy makers and implementers need to do more to engage the broader community to ensure that policies seeking to advance civic engagement as a means to inform and improve education policy realize these goals. Our research indicates that there may be untapped interest and opportunities to encourage greater participation from diverse stakeholders.

Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully acknowledge support from Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) and the USC Rossier School of Education, which sponsored the poll we analyze. We also appreciate the contributions from members of the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative who worked on the qualitative study from which we draw, as well as the funders of that study, the Hewlett Foundation, Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation. We have also benefited greatly from the cooperation of administrators, educators, civic leaders, and parents who participated in the research, and feedback from Rebecca Jacobsen and the anonymous reviewers.

Notes

2. 

Districts with large numbers of target students do not receive additional resources for outreach and the state statute does not elaborate on which methods should be used to meet these minimum requirements.

3. 

For a copy of the full instrument and aggregate results see https://tinyurl.com/PACEUSCPoll.

4. 

Although not the direct stakeholders, district leaders were important sources of information about perceived barriers and facilitators. Comparing administrator reports to those from stakeholders also helped surface important misperceptions that could guide future policy/practice. Recall that under LCFF, along with parents, community and labor leaders and school-level educators were considered potential stakeholders and, as interviewees, provided important evidence to triangulate with polling data from comparable stakeholder groups.

5. 

Those who are aware of but do not participate in LCFF-related events have the highest untapped potential of participation. An examination of this group may yield important findings about those who are aware—a necessary precondition to participation—but who are not active participants.

6. 

We intentionally do not use “LCFF” in the question given limited awareness of the policy. Instead, we describe the types of activities mandated under the policy to more accurately gauge interest in future participation.

7. 

California Education Code § 52060 and California Education Code § 52062.

8. 

Stronger relative agreement that “schools in my community generally reflect my preferences and values.”

9. 

Note this question did not name LCFF but instead refers to the activities requested by the policy.

10. 

See González, Moll, and Amanti (2005), Mapp and Kuttner (2013), and Barajas-Lopez and Ishimaru (2016) for more information.

11. 

See https://caljustice.org/resource/lcff-engagement-toolkit/ for their “engagement toolkit.”

12. 

See Koonings (2004), Lerner (2011), and Marsh and Hall (2017) for more information.

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