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Lesson 7.0

And a System…:
Overview of Chapter 7

The education system is layered, complex, and hard to change

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California’s system for governing its schools is complicated and often ambiguous. Many different people and groups set policies and rules for public schools, and they don’t always see things the same way.

What is the right balance between state, federal, and local authority over our public schools?

Decisions about how schools operate are made everywhere from Washington D.C. and the governor’s office to the faculty meeting at the local elementary school. For example, the state Legislature and governor make laws governing education and they control the budget. State and federal courts have mandated some policies. Voters have too, by passing ballot initiatives. Local school boards, along with the district superintendents they hire, run the schools. They see that state and federal requirements are carried out. School principals, teachers, and employee unions all play a role. In charter schools, the lines of authority are a bit different but many of the same rules apply.

These decision makers often have the strongest voices in how the schools operate. Yet all of them serve—and are ultimately accountable to—the parents and other community members who pay the taxes that support public schools.

This chapter describes these players and their roles. As you read, keep this question in mind: What is the right balance between state, federal, and local authority over our public schools? That’s a constant tension in our education system.

What's in this Chapter?

We convinced Jeff to narrate a short video preview of each lesson. We hope you get a kick out of the awkward expressions we captured him in...

7.1 The State: The Buck Stops Here
Don't blame the schools / or the feds or the fates. / When it comes to education / the buck stops at the STATE.
7.2 The Federal Government: Small money, big influence
What power does the Federal government actually have over schools?
7.3 School Districts: In Charge of Most Local Schools
School districts run the show. There are about 1,000 of them in California - a big, overlapping jigsaw puzzle. Here's what they do...
7.4 Thinking Regionally about Education: County Offices, and Crossing Boundaries
Counties play a bigger role in California schools than most realize. | "When challenges are far beyond / the scope of district boundaries / will you wish upon a star / or call upon the county? "
7.5 Teachers' Unions: Don't Underestimate Them
"Unions are good" / "Unions are evil" / Unions in in schools / represent people. | Here's what you need to know about how teachers unions actually work in California.
7.6 Initiatives and Education: California's Initiative Process and How It Affects Schools
Your name on that petition / for the sake of future scholars / scored the earnest clipboard dude / a couple hard-earned dollars.
7.7 Who influences education?: Politics, philanthropy and policy
The dollars that philanthropies give to education are tiny compared to total expenditures each year. Why are they so influential?
7.8 Accountability in Education: Who monitors the quality of schools?
Who holds whom accountable in education? | Can we make the grade? / How can we get it done? / I'm a bit afraid / that phaser's not been set to stun.
7.9 When Schools Fail: Interventions and Consequences
Call in the cavalry! / we need an intervention / let me put it tactfully... / our school is in detention. | How do you 'turn around' failing schools? And how does Anna Karenina fit in?
7.10 The LCAP: Annual plans for school districts
Local Accountability is a crucial concept in California governance. This lesson tells you what you need to know.
user avatar
Monica January 9, 2018 at 9:01 pm
I am excited to get started!
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