The 1971 ruling of the California Supreme Court in the case of Serrano v. Priest initiated a chain of events that abruptly ended local financing of public schools in California. In seven short years, California transformed its school finance system from a decentralized one in which local communities chose how much to spend on their schools to a centralized one in which the state legislature determines the expenditures of every school district. This paper begins by describing California's school finance system before Serrano and the transformation from local to state finance. It then delineates some consequences of that transformation and draws lessons from California's experience with school finance reform.