Designing Categorical Grants to Support Student Learning

Friday, May 8, 2009 - 11:30am

pace seminarAn audio broadcast of our recent seminar “Designing Categorical Grants to Support Student Learning” featuring Lawrence O. Picus with comments by John Mockler is now available.

As part of the Legislature’s February 2009 budget revisions, school districts were granted more flexibility in the use of some categorical grants. These actions offer an exceptional opportunity to reform California’s confusing system of categorical grants. Flexibility in the use of categorical grant funding creates a paradox because categorical programs are established to focus school resources on high priority programs. Allowing alternative use of these funds is both counter-productive and suggests lack of focus in the mix of categorical programs available. This session provided an overview of the purposes of categorical grants, discussed issues pertaining to local v. state control over the use of educational resources and described Picus’ recent research on ways to structure categorical grants to improve student performance. Picus offered suggestions for ways California’s myriad of confusing categorical programs can be reformed to focus on student learning. John Mockler offered some comments on Picus' presentation.

Lawrence O. Picus is professor of education at the USC Rossier School of Education. His research focuses on school finance and the allocation and use of educational resources to improve student learning. He has conducted school finance adequacy studies in a number of states, and helped design the school funding systems in Wyoming, Arkansas and North Dakota. Ohio is currently considering a funding system based on his work.

John Mockler is the president of John Mockler and Associates, Inc., a consulting firm in Sacramento. He is the former Executive Director of the California State Board of Education and the former Interim Secretary for Education for the State of California. The speaker was introduced by PACE's Executive Director David N. Plank.


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