Challenges and Choices

A Multidistrict Analysis of Statewide Mandated Democratic Engagement
Julie A. Marsh
University of Southern California
Michelle Hall
Chapman University


This article seeks to deepen our understanding of the nature and quality of democratic participation in educational reform by examining the first-year implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which mandates civic engagement in district decision-making. Drawing on democratic theory, empirical literature, and data from 10 districts, it finds that even when district leaders committed to involving stakeholders in decision-making, achieving this vision was often constrained by power imbalances, deeply engrained institutional habits, and limited capacity. The article also find that climates of trust, support from external organizations, and homogeneity appeared to provide the foundation for deeper, broader democratic engagement in a few cases. The article concludes with implications for policy, practice, and future research.

This article was originally published in the American Educational Research Journal by SAGE Publications.

Suggested citationMarsh, J. A., & Hall, M. (2017, October). Challenges and choices: A multidistrict analysis of statewide mandated democratic engagement [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.