Allan J. Mucerino
Social Justice Means Earnestly Engaging Parents in Your LCAP
A recent study of Local Control and Accountability Plans by the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative found, to no one’s surprise (and certainly not mine), that engagement efforts resulted in only limited investments in stakeholder priorities.
Make no mistake about it. This is about social justice. Engaging parents remains the central focus of LCFF stakeholder engagement. Superintendents and school boards nationwide continue to struggle with the challenge of engaging parents. The Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative report is encouraging in as much as it reports that districts are acknowledging their efforts thus far have proven mostly fruitless. Challenges to meaningful engagement also include the inability of the LCAP template to communicate district strategies and investments to stakeholders (see my 2/3/19 post arguing for the LCAP to be more than a compliance document). Furthermore, a lack of district capacity and experience to organize and solicit diverse stakeholders’ ideas contributes to this monumental shortfall given the promise of the LCFF.
The Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative research team also found little evidence that school board members engaged in LCAP development beyond approving the LCAP district staff developed. Like in any organization, leadership starts at the top.
My school district is a perfect example of what the researchers for the independent, non-partisan research center led by faculty directors at Stanford University, USC, UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Berkeley discovered in their study of LCAPs:
While significant efforts to try new and innovative ways to reach out to our parent groups have been robust and seemingly exhausted, building the capacity to engage in LCFF-related planning and oversight remains underwhelming.
Given our nearly 19,000 ADA and unduplicated count over 80%, we decided to partner with the Thought Exchange to engage our parents in a confidential, 2-way platform to provide us with real data that is influence-free. We engaged our parents (and students, staff, and community members too) by providing them with a link that is one-click accessible via a smart phone and completely anonymous. There is no need to log on. Participants simply access the link sent to them by their principal in the usual communication format each school employs to keep stakeholders current. Once linked, participants choose who they identify with (parent, student, staff, etc...) and then proceed to provide input in two ways. First, participants can respond to the LCAP question: “What are some things we are doing well and some things we can focus on as we continue our work to support all students?”; and second, participants can reply to comments made by others in their group by assigning comments a “Star Rating" on a 1 to 5 scale.
Participants are free to answer the question, or just "Star" the comments made by others, or both. Either way, stakeholders are provided an opportunity to provide us with a rich data base of input that we intend to use to support our effort to allocate our LCFF resources appropriately and as intended by California statute.
Our LCAP thought exchange is open for another seven days. Participants simply click on the Thought Exchange link in English or in Spanish to access the exchange. Once there, participants are free to anonymously exchange ideas related to the LCAP. We are not relying solely on this social media platform for input. It’s simply another approach in our effort to engage our multiple stakeholder groups. We continue to work closely with our DAC, ELAC, and DELAC groups simultaneously. However, the input we receive from the Though Exchange also informs our parent groups as they too struggle to truly represent the communities they are tasked with earnestly representing.
I am anxious to hear from my fellow educators about how you are responding to the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative’s findings and what steps you are taking to further engage your stakeholders. I’ll be happy to share your ideas with my readers in my follow-up to this blog.