Civic Engagement in Education

Insights from California's Local Control Funding Formula
Julie A. Marsh
University of Southern California
Tasminda Dhaliwal
Michigan State University
Michelle Hall
Chapman University
Morgan Polikoff
University of Southern California


This policy brief uses the case of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to provide policy makers and educators guidance on how to involve the public in goal setting and resource distribution decisions. It provides clarity around who is and is not participating, why, and what broader lessons we can draw for implementing federal and state education policies mandating public engagement. The findings indicate tremendous room for improvement. LCFF’s target populations (e.g., low-income, English learners) are not more likely to be aware of or participate in decisions than nontargeted groups, which suggests weak accountability for the use of public funds by the policy’s target populations. Although LCFF has defined a broad set of stakeholders, only a narrow segment of the public (i.e., individuals with stronger ties to and positive views of schools) is aware of and engaging with the policy. Finally, it finds a substantial gap between actual participation in LCFF and interest in participation, which may relate to a lack of self-efficacy, time, trust, perceived appropriateness, and information. As states and districts respond to mandates for engagement, these results suggest the need for greater investments in (1) communication, (2) targeting a range of stakeholders, and (3) capacity building.

This article was originally published in Education Finance and Policy by MIT Press.

Suggested citationMarsh, J. A., Dhaliwal, T. K., Hall, M., & Polikoff, M. S. (2020, October). Civic engagement in education: Insights from California’s Local Control Funding Formula [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.