In 2004, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education published Ensuring Access with Quality to California's Community Colleges, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. That report called attention to the considerable challenges facing the community colleges and the importance of addressing these problems. A central critique included in the report's findings was that current community college finance mechanisms "serve to provide barriers to progress rather than promoting it." The "essential first step" in aligning resource allocation mechanisms to programmatic priorities was to perform a policy audit of the system's finance infrastructure, the Ensuring Access report concluded. The Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Sacramento State University was subsequently funded by the Hewlett Foundation to perform the policy audit. This paper summarizes the methodology and the findings of the research and discusses the prospects of using the policy audit to influence public policy regarding the financing of California's community colleges.
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