New study critical of California public school funding deregulation

A new study out today is critical of the way California deregulated portions of public school funding several years ago.

Three years ago state lawmakers gave public school districts more control over a sizable amount of education funding – about $4.5 billion. Until then, that money had to be used for adult education, gifted student curriculum and other specific programs.

Supporters said local administrators could better decide how to use the funds as they struggled to adjust to massive state budget cuts.

The study, conducted by the RAND Corporation and several California universities, found that, for the most part, administrators did not carefully study the consequences of shifting funds away from specific programs.

Administrators used most of the money to pay teachers’ salaries. That kept many teachers employed but it also decimated important programs such as gifted education, high school exit exam tutorials and staff development.

The study’s authors recommend state lawmakers urge schools to more carefully evaluate whether these critical programs should be given a higher priority in the future.