Since our founding in 1996, generations of young leaders have been making countless memories while being on the forefront of change in our communities and in the future of California schools! To celebrate 26 years of movement building, leadership development, and youth empowerment, we’ve compiled a list of 26 of our favorite CFJ moments to share with you.
- At the turn of the century in 2000,CFJ mobilized to stop Proposition 21 from being passed. The proposition meant “youth as young as 14 could be sent to adult prison.” While it ultimately passed, it also mobilized a new generation of organizers to focus on youth justice work, including CFJ staff.
- In October of 2001, CFJ members supported a legislation to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition for college, removing a serious barrier to college access for immigrant youth.
- Who remembers our slogan, “So Fresh and So Clean?” In June 2002, CFJ won our Cleaner Bathrooms campaign in Long Beach schools!
- April 17, 2003 – the glorious day CFJ San Jose won Bilingual Certification!
- In 2003, Campaign for Quality Education coalition was founded by Californians for Justice. Together with allies, we brought together 450 students, parents, teachers, and community members to the State Board of Education meeting to protest the implementation of the California High School Exit Exam.
- 2004 was the year Californians won the $1 Billion dollar Williams Settlement with the support of CFJ to have better facilities in public schools statewide.
- Represented by Public Advocates, CFJ won the Teacher Quality Lawsuit against the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in September 2005.
- In 2006, CFJ rallied and held press conferences to educate parents and communities on what the Williams Settlement provides and to encourage school districts to implement the changes. CFJ helped file complaints in 9 schools in 5 regions, and made over 75 presentations to classrooms, allies, and other groups
- CFJ Fresno’s campaign succeeded in 2007 at convincing the Fresno Unified School District to improve the student-to-counselor ratio from 800 students per counselor to 450 students per counselor.
- In response to pressure from CFJ student leaders in September 2007, the Long Beach Unified School District School Board passed the Academic and Career Success Initiative to increase college-going rates in the district!
- “A-G, Graduate with Me!” still rings in our ears from our successful curriculum campaign in the East Side Union High School District of San Jose in 2010
- By January 2011, “So Fresh, So Clean” campaign– this time by CFJ leaders at Oakland High School– succeeded in getting the Oakland Unified School District to access funds to replace outdated equipment and convinced the district to apply for $13 million from the state’s Emergency Repair Program to repair the school’s faulty heating ventilation and air conditioning system.
- In February 2011, CFJ succeeded in getting Fresno Unified School District to hold Know Your Rights Assemblies, and to expand an A-G certified Race and Social Justice course to all FUSD comprehensive and continuation high schools.
- May 2011: CFJ Wins Healthy School Zones Resolution CFJ Long Beach won a Food for Thought campaign demand in May 2011, with a promise from the Long Beach City Council resolution to work with student leaders, residents, and community groups to support the creation of community gardens around Long Beach Schools and to promote “Healthy School Zones” by encouraging businesses located within five blocks of schools to provide healthy, high-nutrient food and beverage options.
- In March 2012, CFJ’s community college student group in Oakland, the Peralta Student Alliance (PSA), achieved a significant victory with their “Stop the Drops” campaign against Peralta Community College District’s problematic fee policy and antiquated financial aid system.
- Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was passed in January 2013, marking a historic victory for CFJ and the CQE who have spent years pushing for equitable school funding. LCFF included a more equitable funding formula, a concentration grant that drives more money to our highest poverty districts, and immediate implementation starting in the fall of 2013. LCFF was the most progressive funding reform in 30 years at the time!
- In May 2013, CFJ and members of the youth advocacy group “Students United to Create a Climate of Engagement, Support and Safety” succeeded in getting the Fresno Unified School District to adopt and implement a Restorative Justice Framework in FUSD high schools.
- 2014 Student Voice Campaign — Californians for Justice and students across the state demanded a say in how the money from Local Control Funding Formula is spent. After 7 months of actions in Sacramento and locally, students won a formal process to give input in their schools’ funding
- CFJ members flex their “Student Voice” in a 2015 campaign by flipping the frame on the perceptions of youth of color.
- In 2016, over 200 student leaders mobilized together to Sacramento, and the result– they moved the State Board of Education to include school climate as a factor for measuring school quality
- 2016 was also the year we celebrated 2 decades of providing leadership development opportunities for youth!
- Local budget wins in 2017 moved our regional school districts closer to Relationship Centered Schools! This came from the work of CFJ student leaders with parents and community leaders for four years toward the promise of making equity a reality in the Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) – school districts’ annual budget and goals. CFJ leaders harnessed the power of the LCAP to uplift student voice and transform their education with a focus on Relationship Centered Schools.
- In 2018, CFJ students and organizers joined in the OUSD new staff training process – giving students a voice in hiring decisions for teachers in the district.
- In spite of all the odds 2020 threw at us, CFJ was able to connect with over 14,000 voters, who also helped us spread awareness for youth power and racial justice issues, like Prop 15 also known as Schools & Communities First.
- We celebrated 20 years of SYLA in 2021! Relive the memories by checking our special anniversary yearbook edition!
- 2021 also brought us a major budget win – we won $3 Billion in CA Budget for Support and Creation of Relationship-Centered, Racially-Just Community Schools!
Throughout our 26 years, the one thing that remains is the sheer power of our youth. All the victories and progress we have made in the state of education for California schools would not have happened without the leadership of our students and support from our communities. All the supporters of Californians For Justice through the years–students, parents, educators, and allies–were not only part of these moments of joy, but part of a greater movement. Our wins, whether regional or statewide, are wins for all of us!
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