Brown surprises state board, calls for adoption of LCFF regs

Brown surprises state board, calls for adoption of LCFF regs

(Calif.) Taking clear control of the debate over school funding governance, Gov. Jerry Brown made a rare appearance at the state board of education meeting Thursday saying the draft regulations pending before the panel met a balance between flexibility and accountability.

“I like to find the truth between the reformers, the unions, the parents, the students – who all work together even though they all have different perspectives,” Brown said. “This set of regulations has that flexibility to incorporate different perspectives while the overall goal of achievement, of directing more funding where the challenges are greater and setting up a template and mechanism of accountability.”

The surprise appearance, noted by the governor’s press office less than an hour before he arrived, took some anticipation out of the day’s events, where members of the California State Board of Education were hearing hours of testimony prior to their consideration of emergency regulations governing the use of billions of dollars in new school funding.

Brown, architect of the Local Control Funding Formula which restructured the state-school fiscal relationship, had struggled in recent months over the program’s regulations as two of his own goals within the new system were challenged by key interest groups.

The governor had sold the program last spring by arguing local officials should be put in charge of more of the spending decisions – but he also wanted more of the money to target disadvantaged students.

The two came in conflict with civil rights groups, who criticized an initial set of regulations for not ensuring targeted money would actually go to low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

Reading into Brown’s comments Thursday, the “principle of subsidiarity” – that is making decisions at the lowest level – was given priority. The governor emphasized that the basic units of society began with the family and worked their way up to political bodies in the Capitol.

“We are not omnipotent,” Brown said, adding that there should be some “humility” about the proposal before the state board.

The governor said the new system is not a “matter of putting things on automatic pilot with more prescriptive commands from headquarters.”

That said, he said having guidelines was appropriate and praised the current set of regulations as striking a balance between the needs of the disadvantaged students and requirements of districts to make their own spending decisions.”

The draft regulations and an accompanying accountability template are the product of much negotiation between stakeholders, and were expected to be adopted largely intact by board members – who are appointed by the governor.

Still, the board meeting has drawn an overflow audience Thursday with testimony on both sides of the issue expected to go on well into the late afternoon. Brown’s appearance would strongly suggest the board will follow through with adopting the current plan regardless of what else is said.

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