Students Demand a Voice in New School Funding Regulations
Lack of student voice in local funding plans propels student activists across California to launch “My Future, My Voice” Campaign at the Capitol
[SACRAMENTO, CALIF.] (May 8, 2014) – After a tough lesson in “school politics,” students are back and organized. Over 50 students and allies across California came together to show that student voice matters through moving public testimonies and a faceless student visual demonstration inside of the state board of education meeting.
“Today marks the beginning of our new Student Voice Coalition, a coalition of diverse, low-income, and immigrant students from across California, is launching a statewide Student Voice Campaign called “My Future, My Voice,”” said Jalissa Sanders, a student activist from Long Beach Unified School district. “Students continue to be overshadowed by the politics of LCFF. So we’re here to remind the State board that our voices matter and that students are the heart of LCFF,” she continued.
The campaign will focus on giving students a rightful place in implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the state’s new school funding program designed to bring educational equity and support for high-need students.
“Our first step in the Student Voice Campaign is for (State) board members to meet with us to really hear student proposals,” said Shydae Garcia, a student activist from Fresno Unified School District. “Students need to be heard,” she continued. “We’ve already met with board members Bruce Holaday and Jesse Zhang, but are still waiting to meet with Dr. Michael Kirst and Sue Burr.”
The launch of the “My Future, My Voice” campaign at the State Board of Education headquarters in Sacramento is the result of unanswered student demands over the past year to have a voice in the development of Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs). Each local school district is required to develop an LCAP to outline how LCFF money will be spent to support programs and services for high need students. There has been growing frustration among students by what they feel is a lack of engagement in the process.
“Teachers, administrators, and parents all have a clear role in local control and accountability plans whereas we do not,” said Naudika Williams, a student activist from Oakland Unified School District. “It is our futures that are at stake. Will you stand for student voice and hear us, or continue to allow our districts to leave our voices unheard?”
Students are advocating for the State Board of Education to lay out a clear role for them in the development of LCAPs.
“We were the ones showing up to the LCAP community meetings because we care about how our districts spend LCFF dollars,” said Christian Valencia, a student activist from Coachella Valley Unified School District and a member of Inland Congregations United for Change. “Students weren’t invited,” he continued.
In select school districts where students have been invited to attend LCAP meetings—such as Long Beach Unified School District, East Side Union Unified School District in San Jose and Oakland Unified School District—students report that their participation was limited. Long Beach Unified School District’s LCAP Advisory Committee includes only 2 students out of 40 members.
“While we are encouraged to give our feedback on the 8 state priorities in the LCAP advisory meetings, we are not asked about what we think our LCFF funds should be prioritized for because there is no space or time for it,” said Citlali Hernandez, a student activist from Long Beach Unified School District. “It isn’t enough, especially when my peers and I are witnesses to the inequality and unfairness of school discipline and know that we need the funding for positive alternatives more than anything,” she continued.
Students are demanding that the State Board pass LCFF regulations that require a formal process that allows student voice and participation, including the following:
- Create a FORMAL PROCESS for student input;
- Give school districts a MENU of options to engage students;
- Updating the GUIDING QUESTIONS in the LCAP template to show how school districts meaningfully engaged high-need students.
“Giving students a voice in LCFF will ensure that the millions of dollars of new funding aimed at supporting students actually addresses the diverse needs of students in California so that our state will be a model of 21st century education,” concluded Saa’un Bell, Lead Oakland Organizer with Californians for Justice.
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About The Student Voice Campaign
The Student Voice Coalition & Campaign is led by student leaders from across California and was founded by Californians for Justice in February 2014 as a way to unite youth organizations across the state to win a clear and meaningful role for students in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). To learn more go to our website at caljustice.org/studentvoice.
CFJ Has a New Executive Director!
June 3, 2013 – Californians for Justice (CFJ), the only grassroots organization in California that organizes students to have a voice in both local and statewide education policy, announced Taryn Ishida as its new Executive Director.
Ishida was selected through a national search process and was unanimously chosen by board and staff given her background in program strategy, organizational development, and fundraising. Ishida has been involved with CFJ for over ten years, helping start a college advising program and most recently serving on the board of directors. “Taryn pairs her grantmaking and organizational management experience, with her passion and dedication to CFJ’s core values,” stated Peter Kim, CFJ Board Chair. “We are excited to follow Taryn’s leadership and vision over the coming years to improve economic, racial and social justice issues in California’s education system.” Ishida previously worked at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, playing an integral role in launching the Foundation’s place-based grantmaking program in 2008.
Over the last three years, Ishida effectively helped shape a $1.7 million capacity building initiative which brought together funders and youth development nonprofits to look at innovative ways to strengthen the out-of-school-time field. “It is a privilege to join Californians for Justice, especially at a time when historic changes to school funding are on the horizon, momentum is building in our local campaigns, and our base of passionate student leaders continues to grow,” commented Ishida. “I look forward to building on CFJ’s rich 16-year history, capitalizing on our momentum, and leading us towards even greater impact in the coming years.