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California PTA Pushes For More Parent Engagement Funding

This story was written by Sarah Tully and originally posted on the K-12 Parents and the Public blog

Parents now have a formal way to participate in setting their district's spending and priorities through California's accountability plans. But families' involvement has been spotty since the state started its new funding plan three years ago.

Now, the California Parent Teacher Association is pushing the state to give money to districts to improve their family engagement, including parents' participation in the funding and accountability priorities. The California's Assembly's education committee this week passed the parental-engagement bill without dissent. 

In 2013, California passed a new school funding law that freed up some money that used to be restricted to certain areas, called categorical funding. The new plan is called the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF. In doing so, the law required that districts set eight priority areas, including parental involvement, in their Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs, tied to that funding.

Two recent studies found that despite district's outreach, some officials faced challenges in reaching parents, while others fared better. (Education Week's On California blog recently explored the two studies on California's law.)

"The plan should be what you and the community decide is going to be the focus of the plans," said Justine Fischer, president of the California PTA. "That's when actively engaged parents [have] the buy-in and understanding and everyone's working together."

Under the bill, the districts would be required to make parent-engagement plans that are research-based and explain how many families would be reached with one-time funds, according to the legislative bill analysis. The bill would strengthen parents' participation in the LCAP process, as well as help parents to become school leaders and be involved in their children's education, according to the PTA. 

See what PTA members said at a hearing in the California legislature about the bill.

Fischer said the PTA is sponsoring the bill to ensure districts make family engagement a priority—and have the funding to make it happen.

However, the money has still yet to be determined. No funding has been attached to the bill.

The next stop is the appropriations committee, where lawmakers will decide how much, if anything, the bill might receive.

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