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The Unending Search For Equity: California Policy and the"New" School

  • Author(s): Grubb, Norton
  • Goe, Laura
  • et al.
Abstract

Grubb and Goe examine California’s funding policies through the lenses of established approaches to school finance and the “new” school finance perspective. They draw upon historical evidence, empirical research on school funding, and analyses of policies in other states. They find that while California has made some progress in equalizing funding across districts (largely through litigation and legislation), significant disparities remain. Additionally, the state’s use of categorical funding reduces flexibility, and creates a finance system unresponsive to particular school needs. The state’s funding decisions are often uncoordinated; they are usually made in isolation from other policy decisions and without regard to instructional conditions in classrooms. Consequently, funding policy changes meant to bring improvement are often undermined by school conditions that are not taken into account. In contrast, Grubb and Goe argue that California should adopt a “new” school finance perspective that allows educators and policy makers to determine effective practices and resources at the local level. Funds can then be allotted to these instruments according to their effectiveness. The Williams Case offers an important opportunity to reconceptualize these questions, since its focus of attention is the level of educational opportunities actually experienced by students.

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