The California Legislature released a draft of a new Master Plan for Education Monday, a more comprehensive framework for public schooling that builds on the existing Master Plan for Higher Education.
The MPHE has served as a guideline for higher education in the state since 1960, but no such plan exists for grades K-12. The MPE will address the full range of education from preschool to graduate school and improve communication between university level and secondary systems in California.
The current lack of a master plan for K-12 schools has led to a lack of coordination, which hurts their ability to operate effectively, legislative consultant Stephen Blake said.
“Legislative and policy boards are just out of control, making ad hoc changes without any particular vision for the future in sight, and we’re trying to change that,” Blake said. “With the UC, we are looking for greater involvement with K-12 students so that we can make the educational system more responsive to all types of learners.”
The MPHE has not been revised since the early 1990s, and with the MPE the state will begin to plan and coordinate for a K-16, rather than K-12, system. The document addresses a broad range of academic concerns, from the conversion of credits for transfer students to the selection of the right university for high school students, Blake said.
“We’re trying to break down the institutional barriers that the existing Master Plan for Higher Education has built,” he said. “It was very institutionally driven and over the years has built brick walls between different educational institutions. With the new revisions, we’re looking for coherence and cooperation.”
The original MPHE guidelines for the California educational system worked to guarantee such basics as the eligibility of all high school graduates over the age of 18 to attend community college. The MPHE has also been influential in decisions about the locations and types of campuses built by the state.
“Over the past 30 years, the K-12 education system has experienced the erosion of its founding local governance principle by the confluence of many constitutional amendments, laws, court rulings and budgetary requirements,” according to a statement released by the state legislature. “By creating a master plan to govern K-12 education, we can serve to improve the environment within which our schools function.”
While the MPE might not mandate any explicit changes for the UC system, it does help to set up guidelines that encourage interaction between university and other levels of education, legislative consultant Jennifer Mitchel said.
“This will be a new comprehensive plan in order to include K-12 students, as California has never had a state education plan,” she said. “I think that the UC system will be brought into a system of accountability, maintaining at the same time their original role in the MPHE.”
The MPE will lead to better educational decision-making by the government, according to a report by state senator Dede Alpert, who heads the California Legislature’s Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education: “Our methods of delivering education should support life-long learning.”