Students and Parents Push Back: Local Control Funding Formula Is Working!
Attacks on LCFF move student and parent leaders to defend equitable funding in California
On July 12th, 2017– A coalition of diverse, low-income, and immigrant students and parents from 17 organizations representing 30 cities from across California traveled to Sacramento and are joined by Assemblymember Rocky Chavez (D-76) and Superintendent Chris Funk from East Side Union High School District, to make it clear that LCFF is working.
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 in the midst of growing national pressure to undermine equity and public education.
“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,” states 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 travelled 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.
Chinchilla continued, “we are here to ensure that LCFF is here to stay and that our legislators, especially those that are new and the future governor, are committed to equitable funding for low-income students of color.”
The promise of LCFF is what keeps students of color, parents, and education advocates hopeful of making educational equity real. “Education is the great equalizer…We need leadership that brings back the privilege for all students and holds the entire organization responsible for attaining the goal of providing every student a world-class education regardless of their economic, gender or cultural background,” says Superintendent Chris D. Funk from East Side Union High School District.
Recent research along with the experiences of students and parents has shown that LCFF is working by:
- Integrating community engagement: There’s greater parent, student and teacher engagement in the LCAP process at the local school districts, which did not exist before LCFF.
- Investing in social emotional supports: Schools are using LCFF dollars to support the social emotional needs of students. Strategies like Restorative Justice and Relationship Centered Schools, are being funded and implemented as a powerful way to build community across students and staff, increase academic performance, and address trauma and suspensions.
- School Climate is prioritized more: Culture and climate indicators have also been adopted at the state level to evaluate LCFF progress by measuring not just academic outcomes, but also chronic absenteeism and suspension rates.
- Upholding equity: For the first time, educational funding is now being evaluated thru the lens of racial and economic equity. School districts are accountable to ensure equitable supports to students by increasing and improving services that best support foster youth, English Language Learners, and low income students. Districts are also receiving significantly more funding than before LCFF–findings from the research organization Education Trust-West show that all districts are receiving more funding per student than before LCFF, and that high poverty districts have seen increases in funds of 30%-62% putting them at the same funding level or slightly above low poverty districts.
“Transforming a 40-year-old broken system that overemphasized test-taking and outdated learning standards won’t happen overnight,” states Lucila. Students and parents have seen the impact of having more money for students who need it the most, for local-decision making that gives students and parents a seat at the table, and for improved outcomes. For them one thing is clear, California legislators and incoming governor must stay the course, LCFF is working– and from here on, we must uplift and build on the bright spots while continuing to improve California’s equitable funding system.
Grassroots organizations participating in the press conference:
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About Californians for Justice
Californians for Justice believes that young people are the leaders we need to create the healthy, just and vibrant schools all of our communities deserve. We ensure that students have the opportunity to grow as leaders, and work with them to win campaigns so that every school and community can thrive. To learn more go to our website at caljustice.org.
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