Since the early 1970s, traditional patterns of school governance in California have changed dramatically. The presumption of local control, a system of governance based on local electoral accountability—the system in place for the previous 150 years—has been superseded by a system of state control. Decisions that used to be matters of local discretion‐‐‐among them, decisions about resource allocation, curriculum, student assessment, and student promotion and graduation—are now matters of state policy.
Districts are now subject to voluminous state and federal regulations and reporting requirements. The state tells teachers how to teach reading and tells teachers and administrators how to behave with parents. Since enactment of the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) in 1999, the state can take over “failing” schools and fire teachers and principals. As a result of governance changes over the past 35 years, there are few areas of teaching and learning that are not subject to legislative mandate.