Californians for Justice is working across three levels of government to improve school climate, school safety, and student and family engagement.
Building Relationships in Long Beach
On November 30th, CFJ hosted a series of teacher luncheons in partnership with Long Beach Unified School District. Youth leaders and staff learned more about what Relationship Centered Schools mean for their community and how to lead together for meaningful change. Over 60 teachers were in attendance and heard from CFJ youth leaders Oscar Favela and Liliana Ayala about the importance of relationship building with students on campus.
Guiding this work is the harsh reality that 1 in 3 CA students cannot identify a single caring adult at school. During the luncheons, a teacher at Lakewood High School shared that after hearing that figure at our district wide learning day earlier this year, she actually went home and asked her two high school-aged children if they had a caring adult at school — one of them did not. Our work continues to hit home for many of teachers and school staff, energizing our collective work to create Relationship Centered Schools where every student is safe, supported and encouraged to thrive, regardless of race or zipcode.
Advocating for equity in California’s school system
At the state level, CFJ is a core part of the Alliance for Continuous Improvement, which drafted recommendations for Governor-elect Gavin Newsom’s new cabinet. These include: improving school climate and parent engagement, increasing per pupil expenditures, and maintaining the Local Control Funding Formula, as well as efforts to recruit and retain teachers of color in light of the statewide teacher shortage. The alliance has launched a new website called the California Education GPS to provide resources and guidance for policymakers and elected leaders to continue advancing high quality public education in the state.
Shifting the narrative in Washington D.C.
This month, CFJ was also present at the release of the Community for Just Schools Fund Report: “Do the Harder Work – Create Cultures of Connectedness in Schools: A Youth and Parent Organizer Response to the Federal Commission on School Safety.”
The Community for Just Schools Fund represents a nationwide coalition of organizations focused on disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and on improving practices in schools nationwide to support the holistic needs of students of color. The report highlights the work being done by education organizations nationwide, including CFJ’s work to implement Relationship Centered Schools in California. This work challenges the recommendations offered by the Federal Commission on School Safety, established after the Parkland tragedy in 2018, which focus on arming teachers and increasing police officers on school campuses. The work of CFJ and CJSF has shown that these policies exacerbate the criminalization of students of color, and this report offer alternatives that create cultures of connectedness on school campuses to ensure that all students feel safe, supported and capable of thriving.