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Common Core and California school funding

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Common Core. The standards are here. They will be here. How long they will be here is unknown.

In California, Common Core was adopted in 2010. Full implementation is the 2013-2014 school year. That is now.

Implementing Common Core, in any state, is expensive. Any change in curriculum is costly, in terms of money and in terms of time.

In the California State Budget for 2014-2015, education was fortunate to be well funded. Included in the funding was a tug-of-war about how the school money would be distributed and how it would then be spent.

One group wanted more control over the funds, while the other group wanted flexibility. The 1,000 school districts in California got the flexibility, most of it, that they thought necessary.

School finance in the state was a very tangled and very hard to decipher set of mandates that simply got more strange and segmented over the last 40 years.

There were too many restricted pots of money, money that could only be spent in that particular pot, or category. Categorical funds were exactly that: they could be spent in that category.

Those rules were meant to make sure that funds were available for many different things. Raiding one pot to fund something in another wasn't possible. It caused more problems than it solved.

What the districts now have are larger base grants. Districts that have more than 55 percent of their students who are poor, English learners, or foster children, will receive more money.

The tax base of a district isn't part of the funding formula. Districts with a healthy tax base will continue to enjoy that base. Part of the debate regarding funding centered around the discrepancy in tax revenues between different districts.

With a clear set of standards at hand, and enhanced funding for the schools, California's school districts now have to come up with a way to provide clear evidence that those two items will equal enhanced educational outcomes for all students in the state.

That endeavor continues to be a difficult and always moving target.



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