California Education Dialogue

A public policy dialogue produced by Information Renaissance
with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
IBM Corporation and Intel Corporation



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Briefing Book



The Draft Master Plan (section on "Affordability....") states in summary that basic K-12 educational funding is now on a per-student basis, in amounts that are not based on actual costs. "This Master Plan envisions a fundamental change from a traditional focus of the K-12 financing system on equality of funding ... to one of adequacy, in which the essential components (personnel, materials, equipment, and facilities) necessary for an exemplary education are identified and provided. With this foundation of adequate resources for a high quality education, schools and students would be truly accountable for meeting established standards of achievement."

Postsecondary funding is also distributed in amounts that are similar for each full-time-equivalent student in a particular public system. Appropriations for the most part do not recognize the cost differences of different disciplinary programs, student learning support needs, format (lecture, lab, seminar, etc.) or level (lower division, upper division, or graduate). Because postsecondary enrollment is a privilege afforded by statute, not a constitutional guarantee, the State does not strive to meet the full cost. Federal and private grant funds pay a portion, as do student fees. The State has a significant influence on these fees and, therefore, on the perceived accessibility of postsecondary enrollment by the least advantaged learners. The committee states "we believe this Master Plan should seek to establish a financing system for postsecondary education that supports the goals" of access, affordability, choice, quality, efficiency, cooperation, accountability shared responsibility; and that as with K-12 the long-term objective of the State should be the alignment of allocation and expenditure with the actual costs of providing educational services.

Related issues:

Finance is related to many of the topics in the Master Plan; the links below lead to pages on this site that give more information in selected areas.

If your organization has material that would be useful for the online dialogue but is not included in the preceding list, please e-mail a URL to <>.