Decentralizing Resources in Los Angeles High Schools
California’s Quality Education Investment Act
In a new PACE Working Paper, Margaret Bridges and Bruce Fuller from the University of California, Berkeley; Andrew McEachin and Icela Pelayo, from University of Southern California; and Neal Finkelstein from WestEd, San Francisco worked together to inquire about the use of the Quality Education Investment Act funds. In 2006, Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California Teachers Association struck an innovative deal to focus about $2.6 billion on the state’s lowest performing schools over a seven-year period. The resulting Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA), approved by the legislature, assumes that mandated core reforms will lift student learning: reducing class size, equalizing levels of teacher experience among schools, and hiring additional counselors. During the program’s early years, district officials and principals hold considerable discretion in how they allocate QEIA dollars. This is consistent with Sacramento’s recent push to deregulate some categorical-aid programs, awarding fiscal discretion to local educators. In this Working Paper, the authors undertook a modest inquiry within four Los Angeles high schools to learn (1) how QEIA dollars were spent in the first year of implementation, (2) who was involved in decision-making at school and district levels, and (3) the conditions under which dollars were coherently focused on improving teaching or the instructional program.