LAO: Most state mandates don’t really help schools

Check out this report released today on California’s education mandates. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says many of these activities are costly and don’t help kids or teachers.

Currently, the state requires K-12 and community college districts to perform hundreds of mandated activities, the majority of which provide little benefit to students or teachers. Since the state does not pay for K-14 mandates on a regular basis, the result is billions in outstanding costs the state must eventually pay. In this report, we recommend comprehensively reforming K–14 mandates. If a mandate serves a purpose fundamental to the education system, such as protecting student health or providing essential assessment and oversight data, it should be funded. If not, the mandate should be eliminated.

Do you agree? Which ones should go?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • district employee

    I think it’s interesting that one of the core justifications for eliminating the funding for the mandates are that “most schools do this anyway”. This is a pretty transparent attempt at unfunding a bunch of mandates that schools will have to continue to do anyway because we care about childrens’ well-being.

  • Filly


  • Katy Murphy

    Any examples come to mind?

  • Union Supporter-But

    A perfect example of some funding we do that have shown absolutely ZERO benefit is in primarily middle class schools having lower class sizes in grades K – 3. This feels good to have only 20 students in a class with one teacher but it does not affect learning at all and cost 33% more than standard 30 students per class classrooms.

    The smaller class sizes do affect students who are living in poverty, and Black and Hispanic students in K – 3. But even though we have the evidence we don’t want to give it to “them” if we can’t give it to “us” too.

  • anonymous

    I think this may be a little late because much of the funding that they are referring to is now considered “tier 3″ and districts are able to use these funds flexibly (whereas they were restricted in the past to its original intent)–this refers to funds that support gifted & talented students, English language learners, math/science professional development, supporting new teachers, family & community initiatives, art & music . . .

    I did a quick google search. Below is not an exhaustive list but gives you a sense of the great deal of programs that may be cut that will end up going to filling the budget deficit.

    Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant
    Adult Education
    Regional Occupational Centers and Programs
    School and Library Improvement Block Grant
    Supplemental Instruction
    Instructional Materials
    Professional Development Block Grant Program
    Supplemental School Counseling Program
    Charter School Categorical Block Grant
    Arts and Music Block Grant
    Class Size Reduction – 9th Grade
    School Safety Block Grant (8-12)
    Pupil Retention Block Grant Program
    CA High School Exit Exam-Instructional Support and Services
    Math and Reading Professional Development
    Gifted and Talented
    Community Day Schools
    Community -Based English Tutoring Program
    Peer Assistance and Review
    School Safety Competitive Grants
    County Offices of Education – Fiscal Oversight
    Teacher Mentoring
    County Office of Education – Williams Audits
    Principal Training Program
    Child Oral Health Assessments
    National Board Certification Incentives
    Advanced Placement Programs
    Bilingual Teacher Training
    Reader Services for the Blind