Thursday, January 16, 2014

WEBER TO ED BOARD: Focus Regulations on Closing Achievement Gap

Proposed guidelines would give districts too much discretion to divert funds from raising academic achievement for high-needs students


 SACRAMENTO-Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) called on the members of the State Board of Education Thursday to close loopholes in proposed regulations that would allow school districts to redirect funds intended for raising the academic achievement of high-needs students to other purposes.

“If we do not aggressively make sure that those dollars are focused on these children, we run the risk of doing what we’ve always done: a little bit for everybody and a whole lot for nobody,” Weber said. “Unless we do this right, we will find ourselves, once again, not closing the achievement gap.”

The Board is considering guidelines for the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which provides greater flexibility in the spending of state education funds. As part of the overhaul of school funding passed by the Legislature last year, districts with large concentrations of low-achieving students can apply for grants to boost programs for improving student outcomes.

Weber, a former San Diego Unified School District Board President and Trustee, said the way the regulations are currently drafted, using vaguely defined terms without clear standards for where the money is spent, we run the risk of funds being diverted away from improving student outcomes.

“It does not reflect the tenor of the law we passed as a Legislature,” Weber said. ”There was a recognition that the Achievement Gap was a reflection of the issues of poverty, issues of language and issues of unstable households, and that when there is a concentration of these elements in any particular school, it makes it much more challenging to close the gap.”

“It is extremely important that these regulations are focused around student achievement and include meaningful and enforceable standards,” she said.

The Board will vote on adopting these regulations permanently later this year.



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