Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education

Accountability for Learner Outcomes and Institutional Performance

Governance - Aligning Responsibilities, Authority, and Accountability

State-Level Pre K-12 and Adult Education

The structure of California's state-level governance of K-12 public education is one that has no clear lines of accountability due to multiple entities having overlapping responsibilities. Key players in the state-level governance of the public schools include:

Local education leaders cite the existence of these multiple entities, each of which have a significant impact on education policy, and the lack of a clear delineation of roles among them, as impeding accountability for public education. Irrespective of the extent to which this is true, it is important to note that schools may receive state-level directives and advisories from each of these sources.

Any governance structure that is recommended to provide meaningful accountability at the state level must be sustainable. The scope of authority of several of the entities cited above has continually evolved over the past two decades. An effort to establish offices and delineate duties therefore must anticipate the abilities of various offices to redefine roles or insulate the system against such redefinition. In particular, the significant level of constitutional authority that rests with the Governor - as demonstrated by Governors' creation and expansion of the Office of the Secretary for Education - has allowed the Governor to have an impact the other three and consolidate policy-making authority with offices under its control.

The interests and will of the electorate must also be considered in developing governance structures. Clearly, Californians support having an elected representative whose exclusive focus is education. With one exception, every significant state-level review of K-12 accountability has recommended that the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction be made appointive, but the State - either through action by its representative government or direct vote of the electorate - has been unwilling to act to implement that recommendation.

Accountability can be substantially increased, even in the context of multiple state-level entities with authority for education, by aligning the operations of the State Board of Education and certain aspects of the Department of Education with the Governor. We therefore recommend: