The reports and tools below are available for public use. Please credit CFJ or the appropriate source when using.
The Student Voice Campaign emerged in 2014 from the belief that the more than 6 million California students – three-quarters of whom are from communities of color, more than half who are low-income, and nearly one-quarter who are English learners – deserve to be heard, valued, and reflected in their education. In the face of these challenges, students with Californians for Justice and other youth organizing groups around the state, realized that change would require a major shift in school culture and policies. In the first year of the Student Voice Campaign students won new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) regulations which put students that are meant to benefit from LCFF – low-income, foster care, and English Learner students – at the center of making decisions that impact their education and their future.
This report focuses primarily on lessons, best practices, and challenges based on Californians for Justice’s experiences engaging youth in LCFF in four school districts: East Side Union High School District, Fresno Unified, Long Beach Unified, and Oakland Unified. Our findings echo and extend the lessons highlighted by Education Trust-West, Association of California School Administrators and others. One key theme from CFJ’s work in year one is that investing in institutional structures to support meaningful engagement of students is an ideal model to bring students into the LCFF process as partners. Research by Education Trust-West also confirms this finding. When districts have a history of partnering with community-based activism, they are better equipped to expand outreach, increase practices that improve accessibility for engagement opportunities, and adopt participatory models that facilitate deeper community engagement.
When the historic new school funding law, Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), passed in 2013 Californians for Justice (CFJ) stood ready to close the chapter on its decade-long campaign for a more equitable funding system. CFJ recognized a major flaw in LCFF as it rolled out at the local-level. LCFF required school districts to consult parents, teachers, and administrators in decision-making about LCFF funds, but the law didn’t give students a clear role in deciding how the millions of dollars should be spent. CFJ staff and student leaders knew that for LCFF to be a successful education reform, students needed to be involved in every stage of the planning process. LCFF represented an opportunity to increase equity in school funding, and to increase student engagement in schools.
A ground breaking new study by a group of researchers from USC and UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Action, and Access (IDEA). This study found that “Young people who participated in Californians for Justice while in high school are far more likely than their peers to have moved on to four-year colleges and universities and far more likely to participate in civic life.” In addition to winning policies and organizing in schools and communities, CFJ has created a powerful learning environment that shapes the trajectories of young people’s lives. We are proud of all our alumni and the caliber of civic leaders that they become once they leave here.
No Knowledge, No College: Oakland High Students Rising to the Challenge. 2011
From September 2010 to February 2011, CFJ students collected 500 surveys and conducted one-on-one interviews with students, parents, teachers and counselors. The survey was designed to look at the following: the frequency and quality of student-counselor interactions, students’ knowledge of the A-G requirements, perceived obstacles for going to college, the role of peer-to-peer counseling, and the effectiveness of the Advisory Class. The survey also tracked race, gender and graduation class. Through this report, CFJ student leaders aim to identify concrete solutions that can improve college and career readiness at Oakland High.
Now That We Have the Facts California Parents and Students Voice Their Demands for Public Education. 2007
Californians for Justice joined together with PICO California, California ACORN and Public Advocates to release the first statewide survey capturing parent and student voices from low- and middle-income neighborhoods, articulating their priorities for public education reform. The study, based on the responses of 5,600 adults and young people across California from San Diego to rural Colusa County, makes it clear that parents and students expect their elected officials to begin now to enact the funding and policy changes that will enable all students to obtain the quality education they need and deserve.
The ABCs of Justice Students and Parents fighting for racial justice in California schools. 2004
This report documents the first four years of CFJ’s work to win quality school conditions for all students in California schools. From how CFJ developed it’s education focus to the campaigns led by CFJ members across the state and the techniques used to win, the report covers the range of work that our members have accomplished.
First Things First Why we must stop punishing students and fix California’s schools. 2003
First Things First is a report on school inequality and the impact of the California High School Exit Exam. The report examines the failures of the California educational system, how the Exit Exam is failing its own goals and guidelines, and how the exam violates civil rights law and assessment principles.
Eyes On Education: A Proposal for East Side Union High Schools. 2002
Californians for Justice students and staff conducted research with over 1,000 ESUHSD students and with many East Side Union district staff. This report summarizes what we learned about three main issues: clearing the path to college, teachers’ multicultural competency, language access and diversity. We have found evidence of major disparities and inequalities for students of color on the East Side. This report includes both our findings and our recommendations for racial justice in district policy.
Youth Workshops, Toolkits, and Curriculum
Rising Expectations for Higher Education: College Access Campaign Toolkit
Californians for Justice has compiled workshops, organizing tools, survey templates and other resources that were used to wage our recent local campaigns to improve college access, particularly our Long Beach campaign. This toolkit is a valuable source of information for students and adult allies who want to improve access to higher education in your schools, districts and communities.