As the 2019-2020 school year wraps up, we are seeing students graduating virtually because of COVID-19 and taking to the streets in support of the movement for Black lives. We are seeing Black youth are on the frontlines leading the way and organizing for change. 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 the pandemic and recession.
This week, the Governor and legislature came to a final agreement on the State Budget. Thanks to the tireless advocacy from student leaders, parents, organizers and advocates, the 2020-21 State Budget demonstrates a continued commitment to educational and racial equity by investing more in the students most affected by the pandemic and impacts of systemic racism. Commitments include:
- Protecting Local Control Funding Formula dollars from cuts and distributing $2.9 billion CARES Act dollars using the equitable formula proposed by education equity organizations. The formula ensures that these dollars will support many Black students, students of color, low-income youth, LGBTQ youth, foster youth, youth experiencing homelessness, youth with disabilities, English Learner youth, and systems impacted youth who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- Requiring engagement of students and families in developing a back-to-school plan. 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.
- Investing $45 million for community schools, which is a relationship-centered model that supports the whole child by fostering collaboration with community service providers, educators, students and families. We hope to see increased continued and increased investment in expanding community schools in California in years to come.
- Creating a Young People’s Task Force to provide guidance to the state on how to shift school culture from criminalizing Black students and students of color to a culture of relationships, belonging, and empowerment for all students.
While there are many positive actions in the State Budget, one top priority for students of color remains unaddressed by Governor Newsom — his endorsement of the Schools & Communities First initiative.
For more than 40 years, Black, Latinx, AAPI, and Indigenous communities have particularly suffered from systemic disinvestment in our schools and critical local services – the very tools we all need to get ahead. The Schools & Communities First initiative represents a turning point for these systemic issues that have plagued our state. This measure, which just qualified for the November ballot after having submitted a record 1.7 million signatures of support, would reclaim $12 billion every year for our schools, community colleges, and critical local services by closing corporate property tax loopholes – all while protecting homeowners and renters, small businesses, and agriculture from any changes. We ask Governor Newsom to exercise courageous leadership and undo the systemic racism that has plagued communities of color for far too long and support Schools & Communities First.
Just 24 years ago, we lost a fight to protect affirmative action when Proposition 209 passed. Californians for Justice was born out of that defeat and we’ve remained committed to racial justice ever since. Now, the ghost of Prop 209 has emerged, and we have a chance on the November 2020 ballot to address the decades of systemic racism Prop 209 produced. There’s a lot at stake this November but we know our communities can lead together to right these historic wrongs.
What’s Next with the State Budget? As Governor Newsom and the legislature roll out the budget and prepare for an August revision, we urge them to continue to act on the 10 Equity Priorities put forth by CFJ and the California Partnership for the Future of Learning. We are hopeful to see the legislature and Governor Newsom’s commitment to equity and centering the needs of the most affected communities, and we will continue to do our part to fight for racial and educational justice from classrooms to the Capitol.
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