California’s Master Plan for Education

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Jan. 9, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This year the Joint Legislative Master Plan Committee, chaired by Senator Dede Alpert (D-San Diego), will seek to ensure that the legal structure is in place to implement the state’s new Master Plan for pre-kindergarten through university public education.

The 152-page Master Plan for Education, intended to guide the state for at least the next 15 to 20 years, lays out the vision and goals for system-wide improvement of education. Efforts are already underway to achieve some of the goals, while other goals will take several years to be substantially realized.

Starting in the late 1990s, the Master Plan Joint Committee members spent almost four years collecting information and holding meetings to gather the input of people from many different sectors of the state – business leaders, educators, administrators, representatives, community members, and more. After two drafts that were shared with the public and improved as feedback was received, the Master Plan for Education became the state’s official education plan in August of 2002 upon its formal submission to the Legislature.

The Master Plan incorporates much of the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, especially the overarching goal of creating and maintaining the most accessible and efficient public system of postsecondary education in the world. The major and still-applicable parts of the 1960 Plan were rolled into the new Master Plan so that there now is only one plan guiding public education in California.

One of the California education system’s most critical deficiencies is the lack of data for informed policy decisions and improved teaching. With the recent passage of SB 1453 (2002, Alpert) and SB 257 (2003, Alpert), the green light is on for the development of a data system to objectively and consistently collect information to meet the needs of students.

Another major problem is the convoluted and inadequate system of education finance. AB 2217 (2002, Strom-Martin D-Duncan Hills) and SB 712 (2003, Alpert) recently created the Quality Education Commission (QEC) and assigned it the task of determining what a quality education actually costs in this state so that funding can be adequate to achieving the state’s education goals, efficient, and readily understandable by the taxpayers who provide the funds. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is moving quickly to make appointments to the commission, with input from his Secretary for Education Richard Riordan.

The Schwarzenegger Administration is already moving forward with education improvements consistent with the Master Plan. As called for in the Plan, Governor Schwarzenegger is pushing for greater accountability and more clearly defined roles in education governance. The Administration’s serious consideration that Secretary Riordan serve as president of the State Board of Education is a meaningful step toward the Master Plan goal to streamline governance and bring education more under the purview of the Administration.
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