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Californians for Justice winning victories for Student Voice & Relationships in districts across the state

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This past school year, CFJ organizers and student leaders made real progress in the campaign to transform California public schools into Relationship Centered Schools. This framework emphasizes student voice, relationship building, and professional development for teachers and staff, making it essential to the success of Black, Brown, Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander students.

By uniting social emotional learning with academics, Relationship Centered Schools ensure all students reach their full potential regardless of race or zipcode. Core to this effort is providing staff and teachers with the capacity and supportive conditions needed to connect with students. These relationships are vital to help students and staff address trauma, build resilience and confront bias. Finally, CFJ’s Relationship Centered Schools framework empowers students, parents and staff to lead together towards a shared vision of success and racial justice.

Relationship Centered School wins include:

Student Voice in Oakland Unified School District

  • Students included within teacher hiring committees
  • Students as trainers for new teacher orientations

Investing in Staff in East Side Union High School District

  • Professional development for teachers and training in implicit bias
  • Creating advisory periods for academic and social emotional support

Creating Space for Relationship Building in Long Beach Unified School District

  • Strengthening freshmen orientations
  • Creating care centers for re-engagement and relationship building

Leading Together in Fresno Unified School District

  • Creating listening circles for students and staff to connect
  • Engaging site teams of teachers and students to shape new policies

Making room for relationship building and student voice in school funding

Our work hasn’t stopped there though, and during this year’s Local Control Funding Formula school budget season, students and CFJ organizers worked with district officials to push for further investment in priority areas outlined in our Relationship Centered Schools framework.

Key wins we saw in district Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) are a commitment by Fresno Unified school board and district leaders to invest directly in Relationship Centered Schools and the decision by East Side Union High School District to allocate money specifically for student voice.

These investments come in addition to actions and services that center relationships, equity, and student voice:

  • Targeted investments in African American student leadership and mentoring programs
  • Professional development for staff and teachers to better reach and teach English language learners
  • Continued support for positive not punitive responses to harm such as Restorative Justice, and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports

These LCAP wins are the result of students, parents, CFJ and school staff leading together for positive change. We’re prioritizing relationship building and student voice in order to ensure every student has the same chance to feel safe, supported and capable of thriving in public education.

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