A coalition of diverse, low-income, and immigrant students and parents from 17 organizations representing 30 cities from across California traveled to Sacramento Wednesday to defend state funding for school equity, called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Recent attacks on the Local Control Funding Formula’s effectiveness have raised the risk of dismantling the equity-based funding system students and parents fought hard to win in 2013.
These attacks come amid growing national pressure to undermine equity and public education, according to organizers with Californians for Justice (CFJ).
“You see, long before there was Jerry Brown, there were students and families of color who fought for an equitable funding system for public education,” said former Californians for Justice (CFJ) student leader Lucila Ortiz.
When she was a high school student 12 years ago, she along with many students and other community-based organizations across the state, launched the fight for an equity-based funding system. She traveled to Sacramento to ensure that decades of students and parent advocacy is not lost. According to Robert Paige, former youth leader with CFJ, “In 2012, there were 7,000 suspensions in Oakland Unified School District. Two-thirds were African American students in a district where African American students only make up one-third of the student population.”
After the implementation of LCFF, he saw a dramatic change in suspension rates.
“With more investments in staff and services, OUSD’s suspension rate has been cut in half and our graduation rate is steadily climbing…Students see that their voice actually matters. This is at the heart of local control, and what makes LCFF work,” Robert said.
In the past three months, there have been at least 12 negative news articles on LCFF versus only four positive ones. And in many of those stories, the voices of students and parents who fought to pass the Local Control Funding Formula long before Governor Jerry Brown are missing. This has raised the fears in many students, parents, and grassroots education leaders.
“Why aren’t we covering the whole story? There are so many bright spots across California where the Local Control Funding Formula is working,” said Kelly Chinchilla. Chinchilla is an incoming senior at Long Beach Unified School District and student leader with Californians for Justice.
Additionally, what has raised the eyebrows of students and parents is that one third of the legislators are new and unfamiliar with the Local Control Funding Formula. And with Governor Brown, LCFF’s champion terming out in 2018, students and parents are determined to make sure their stories about LCFF are heard by their elected officials.
To learn more about the Californians for Justice Campaign, go to caljustice.org.