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Staff Analysis of the Governance Working Group Final Report

The following analysis sets forth the specific recommendations contained in the final report of the Governance Working Group (in bold print), organized by distinct governance level. The staff comments that follow each section are intended to illuminate those recommendations, the deliberations that led to those recommendations, and/or important information that should be considered in evaluating those recommendations. 

Goals of the Governance Working Group

The Governance Working Group recommended improvements in the structure of education governance to meet three goals:

  • Employing student achievement as the measure of success.
  • Improving accountability - a clear delineation of responsibilities and consequences. 
  • Ensuring coordination between K-12 and postsecondary education, and between and among the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges.
K-12 State-level Recommendations
  • Accountability to California's citizens for the operations of K-12 public education at large, and ultimate responsibility for the delivery of education to California's K-12 public education students in particular, should both reside in the office of the Governor. The Governor should appoint a Chief State Schools Officer, to carry out, on behalf of the Governor, the following functions: establishing learning expectations, providing an accountability system of measurement (including specific technical assistance), and apportioning resources, and to serve as the Director of the Department of Education. (A minority position within the Group favored continuing to have an independent elected office responsible for K-12 education.) 
  • The Governor should be accountable for all state-level K-12 education agencies.
  • The separate executive director and staff of the State Board in the Department of Education should be eliminated. 
  • The State Board of Education members should be drawn from and represent distinct geographical regions, and the functions of the State Board should be limited to policy matters.
Staff Comments:
  • These recommendations directly address the goal of enhancing accountability through the delineation of responsibilities among various state offices, but the report is silent on consequences of failure to meet responsibilities. 
  • Moving management responsibility for the State Department of Education to the Secretary for Education (and formal establishment of that position) can be accomplished through simple legislative enactment of changes in statutory law. The redesign of the roles and responsibilities of the Superintendent of Public Instruction that would need to follow can also be accomplished through the same process; elimination of that office altogether would require a vote of the people to amend the Constitution.
  • The recommendations provide for greater clarity of responsibility and authority for public schools at the state level and offer the possibility of modest cost savings/avoidance (through the elimination of positions).
K-12 Intermediate-level Recommendations
A state-level inquiry, organized independent of currently existing agencies, should examine county offices and regional entities and their ability to meet current and emerging district, intermediate, and regional needs, including fiscal oversight, academic oversight, and management and administrative assistance. After this inquiry is performed and reported, the Master Plan should incorporate a corresponding course of action.
Staff Comments:
  • While the final recommendation is limited to requesting a more detailed study of the ability of regional and/or county offices to carry out oversight and management functions:
    • The Working Group apparently thought different configurations of regional service delivery would be appropriate to different areas of the state, at least transitionally.
    • Group deliberations indicated that in certain circumstances, additional or improved services could be offered regionally - especially in counties with small populations that may have difficulty meeting minimal levels of service for their client districts.
    • The report does not address the impact of county superintendents' existing constitutional status on the state's ability to define intermediate service delivery in a manner that best meets student needs. (That constitutional status has previously inhibited consideration of redefinition of intermediate structures or roles.)
    • The proposed study includes an evaluation of an academic oversight function at the intermediate level; such a function would be a new role for county or regional entities.
    • The Legislature, through the Master Plan, should define roles and responsibilities by level, independent of the structure of the entities at each level. Intermediate roles could be determined pending receipt of the recommended study on structure.
    • With little direct statutory foundation, county offices of education currently serve as field offices for the State Department of Education, among their other functions.
K-12 District-level Recommendations
  • A report of all pertinent research to date should be compiled regarding the effects of district and school size and structure on curriculum articulation, service coordination, and accountability at the site and district level. After this inquiry is performed and reported, the Master Plan should incorporate a corresponding course of action.
  • An examination of collective bargaining should be undertaken to determine the extent to which bargaining agreements may constrain the ability of school districts to ensure the provision of essential non-personnel resources to students. The results of this examination should be used to determine an appropriate strategy to ensure that all districts set aside sufficient resources to meet state standards before engaging in bargaining for use of public resources for personnel costs.
Staff Comments:
  • The recommendation to study district and school size and structure is silent on whether that study should consider appropriate responsibilities and authority that should be delegated to local school districts.
    • The report suggests that the Group subscribed to the historic goals of unification - curriculum articulation and coordination across the span of all grades and improved economies of scale - but recommended an exploration of multiple means of achieving those goals, while avoiding recommending unification directly.
  • Recognizing the complexity and controversy regarding collective bargaining, the report calls for a separate study of certain impacts of local collective bargaining.
    • The report notes that the Group was concerned that local boards' and management's time is sufficiently absorbed in bargaining to detract from their other important responsibilities.
    • The Group raised concerns that money for repairs, instructional materials, and other items was being bargained into salaries.
    • The Group deliberated recommending a statutory statewide salary schedule, or a statewide benefits schedule as a first step. 
  • The report is silent on consequences that districts/schools should face if state standards and expectations are not met.
California Community Colleges (CCC)
  • The California Community College system's main missions, by level, should be: state level, transfer; regional and local levels, workforce preparation; and local level, remediation.
  • The responsibilities of the Board of Governors and local boards should be defined as the following:

Board of Governors:

    • Exercise general supervision over, and coordination of, the local community college districts.
    • Provide leadership and direction through research and planning.
    • Establish minimum conditions and standards to be required for all districts to receive state support and to function within the system.
    • Establish specific accountability measures and assure evaluation of district performance based on those measures. 
    • Approve courses of instruction and educational programs that meet local, regional, and state needs.
    • Administer state operational and capital outlay support programs.
    • Adopt a proposed system budget and allocation process.
    • Ensure system-wide articulation with other segments of education.
    • Represent the districts before state and national legislative and executive agencies.
Local Boards: 
    • Establish, maintain, and oversee the colleges within each district.
    • Assure the district meets the minimum conditions and standards established by the Board of Governors. 
    • Establish policies for local academic, operations, and facilities planning to assure accomplishment of the statutory mission within conditions and standards established by the Board of Governors:
    • Adopt local district budgets.
    • Oversee the procurement and management of property.
    • Establish policies governing student conduct.
    • Establish policies to guide new course development, course revision/deletion, and curricular quality.
  • A state assessment should be conducted on the value of and need for restructuring of local districts with attention to the size and number of colleges in a district, as well as the scope of authority that should be assigned to each district. Should this assessment find restructuring valuable and desirable, incentives should be provided to encourage restructuring.
  • The CCC Board of Governors should have the same degree of flexibility and authority as that of CSU/UC, including the authority to appoint/approve senior staff to the Board of Governors.
California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC)
  • CPEC should be configured as follows: 
    • The Governor should appoint its membership, for staggered terms.
    • The commission should continue to appoint its executive director.
    • There should be a civil service exemption for staff (parity with the structure of CSU). 
    • The mission should be to provide policy and fiscal advice that represents the broad public interest, planning for coordination, program review, and new campus approval. 
Staff Comments:
  • In differentially assigning primary responsibility for the CCC's main missions to different levels - Transfer, including system-wide articulation, is primarily a state-level responsibility; Workforce Preparation is primarily a regional responsibility; and Remediation is primarily a local responsibility - the report makes no reference to other elements of the CCC mission (economic development and citizenship).
  • The report recommends strengthening of the CCC Board of Governors to be equivalent to the UC Regents and CSU Trustees, which were determined to be 'highly functional.'
    • Assignment of governance and policy authority for the CCC system would significantly expand its current authority.
    • The authority to independently hire senior staff and operate independent of state salary schedules would allow specialized needs to be more readily met.
  • The recommendation to examine local district size (number of colleges) and scope of authority that should be assigned to local districts derives in part from some members' belief that inefficiencies exist at the extremes of single-college districts and a nine-college district. 
  • The report is silent on CSU and UC and does not address accountability and consequences for either system.
  • The report recommends narrowing the major responsibilities assigned to CPEC to reduce role conflict between (1) the subjective role of facilitating voluntary coordination of postsecondary education providers and (2) the objective role of negotiating differences among them.
  • The Group recommends reassigning CPEC responsibility for data collection to an unspecified independent entity. This recommendation is consistent with the Group's priority of localizing all data collection - pre-kindergarten through university - in a single entity (see Preschool-Postgraduate Recommendations, below).
  • The report recommends changing the appointing authority for commissioners by assigning it exclusively to the governor, versus the current shared appointment authority (Assembly, Senate, Governor, institutional representatives). Although no rationale for this proposed change is given, it is consistent with other recommendations to more directly align state-level governance entities with the Governor.

Preschool - Postgraduate Recommendations

  • The Master Plan should be adopted by the Legislature as a template from which to formulate legislation and regulatory policy and thereby reduce the number of bills considered each year.
  • The responsibility for K-16 coordination should be assigned to the Governor.
  • An independent agency should be identified to collect K-16 data, including cross-segmental and cross-level data.
  • To provide a firm legal basis for a sphere of local control, consideration should be given to amending the state constitution to permit local districts to adopt limited "home rule" authority through votes of their electorates in a manner similar to that long permitted for cities and counties.
Staff Comments:
  • In urging the Legislature's use of the Master Plan as a template for reducing the number of education bills considered annually, the Group considered that far fewer bills are introduced annually that pertain to postsecondary education, which has been guided by the Master Plan for Higher Education, than are introduced annually pertaining to K-12 education.
  • The report would assign coordination of all segments of education to the Governor's office; the relationship of this function to other governing boards, and the UC Regents in particular, would need to be determined.
  • The Group's recommendation that an independent entity be assigned responsibility for collecting data for the entire education system stems from concerns about (1) fragmented data collection that cannot support learning objectives and public policy determination; (2) historical and political issues that color the credibility of many existing entities that currently have partial data collection responsibilities; and (3) limitations on data collection authority. 
    • The report does not list mechanisms that should be deployed to ensure that required data submissions are indeed submitted by all education institutions to a designated data collection agency. Currently, no authority is vested in any state agency to compel CSU or UC to submit data requested by CPEC on behalf of the state.
  • The report recommends constitutional "home rule" authority to actualize local control of public schools and colleges. This recommendation is analogous to the existing, optional authority in the California Constitution for cities and counties to adopt laws by votes of their electorates, as to specified areas within the overall responsibilities of cities and counties, that differ from the general state laws that would otherwise be applicable to those areas. (Any proposed amendment to the Constitution to extend similar authority to school and college districts would need to be at least as specific in its limitations as the existing provisions for cities and counties are.) As matters now stand, virtually any aspect of such local control as school and college districts currently exercise can be preempted by the Legislature through simple enactment of changes in statutory law. 
  • The report is silent on whether course articulation across the post-secondary segments should be system-wide or remain on campus-by-campus and course-by-course basis - a current practice that serves institutions more than students.
  • The report is silent on whether the Master Plan should prescribe a formal structure to encourage pre-kindergarten through university collaboration or, alternatively, to establish a policy environment that strongly encourages pre-kindergarten through university regional collaboration.
Prepared by Stephen Blake, Charles Ratliff, and John Gilroy, Committee Consultants