Case study

Conceptualizing Equity in the Implementation of California Education Finance Reform

Taylor N. Allbright
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Julie A. Marsh
University of Southern California
Michelle Hall
Chapman University
Laura Tobben
University of California, Berkeley
Lawrence O. Picus
University of Southern California
Magaly Lavadenz
Loyola Marymount University


This article examines how district administrators’ conceptions of equity relate to the implementation of finance reform. The authors use sensemaking theory and four views of equity—libertarian, liberal, democratic liberal, and transformative—to guide a case study of two districts, finding evidence of two conceptions of equity: (1) greater resources for students with greater needs, and (2) equal distribution of resources for all students. One district demonstrated an organization-wide belief in the first conception, whereas the other conveyed individual-level understandings of both conceptions. These beliefs were mirrored in resource allocation decisions and were informed by districts’ student demographics, organizational identities, and perceptions of adequacy.

This article was originally published in the American Journal of Education by The University of Chicago Press.

Suggested citationAllbright, T. N., Marsh, J. A., Hall, M., Tobben, L., Picus, L. O., & Lavadenz, M. (2019, February). Conceptualizing equity in the implementation of California education finance reform [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.