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Black & Brown Youth Stand With Gov. Newsom to Make Racial Equity Top Priority in Pandemic Budget

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CFJ May Revise 2020 Statement:

On May 14th, California projected the bleakest budget in the State’s history. Of the $54 billion in cuts, $19 billion, or 35 percent, comes from California’s K-14 Education, which already ranks in the bottom tier in the nation for per-student funding.

Californians for Justice acknowledges the Coronavirus pandemic impact on the California economy. But as a racial justice organization working in the communities most affected by the climbing unemployment and death rates from COVID-19, we must point out that young people and families of color will face the biggest generational disaster in California history if our leaders repeat the same mistakes of the past.

This moment of crisis calls on us to double down on our commitment to racial equity, protect the most vulnerable, and be real about who is disproportionately impacted by a recession.

We are hopeful to see Governor Newsom’s commitment to equity, and centering the needs of the most affected communities, in key areas of the revised State Budget. We support the State’s push for the Federal Government to provide $1 trillion dollars to weather the pandemic-recession storm. As we move deeper into the budget conversation, we urge all California leaders to create space where young people can name their needs to shape the budget that will have an indelible impact on their future.

“We are the future. What gets decided today and how we move through this crisis will influence how we move forward. They need to center youth voices so we can help create the future – since we are the ones who will have to lead it”. — Liliana Ayala, Youth Leader in Long Beach

To help us stay on the path towards equity and racial justice, we urge the Governor and our elected leaders to:

  1. Protect vulnerable students from the 10% cuts proposed to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). We need to preserve the approximately $9 billion in supplemental and concentration grant funds that “hold harmless” low-income, English Learner, and foster care youth who will experience the greatest hardship from this crisis. LCFF has turned the tide toward an equitable school system in California. To maintain the equity at the heart of LCFF, the State must honor its promise of doing more for the neediest students and cut only from base funds so that all districts will experience cuts to the core equally.
  2. Require student and family engagement in budget decisions. Keeping our eye on equity requires us to bring vulnerable students and families into decisions as partners and co-creators in navigating a path forward. Policymakers often think that young people and their families don’t care to be involved, but we know that is far from being true! Youth and parent leaders are eager to be consulted and included in decisions about their future. State and district leaders should engage students and families in decisions on the state budget, federal funds, and district budget and plans, including plans to address learning loss that include a holistic and restorative approach.
  3. Find and support Additional Revenues. In the face of massive budget cuts, we ask the Governor to support other equity-minded options for new revenues such as the Schools and Communities First ballot initiative. Schools & Communities First will be a key component of California’s recovery and reinvestment, generating desperately-needed investments for critical local services, essential workers, schools, and California’s young people. These are first responders, teachers, and public hospitals on the frontlines of this crisis who need support now more than ever. As local communities and schools face dire budget shortfalls, it’s clear that we simply can’t afford corporate tax loopholes anymore.
  4. Expand our commitment to whole child supports in early care and K-14 education. More than ever we need to support the academic, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of young people and the caring adults they rely on. The inclusion of mental health and social emotional supports for students and educators in the May Revise was an important start. However, overcoming anxiety and the loss of loved ones while re-establishing relationships, belonging and physical well-being will require more investment and support from state leaders.

These demands are key to preserving California’s status as a leader in educational equity. Students and parents across the State agree and have expressed these concerns in a recent Community Needs Assessment conducted by the California Partnership for the Future of Learning. From Sacramento to San Diego and everywhere between, students and families agree that we need to prioritize equity and strengthen the roots of racial justice in our education system. The next generation of California’s leaders depends on it.

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