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$4 Billion+ for CA Community Schools

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We’ve made it through another budget cycle – whew! Despite this tough budget year, we are energized by the collective advocacy of education justice partners fighting to protect programs that support Black and brown youth and their communities across the state. One of Californians for Justice’s big budget priorities was making sure community schools funding was protected – and it was! The California Community Schools Partnership Program is part of a long-term strategy to make sure our schools are transformative, racially-just, and relationship centered. At CFJ, we see this program going hand in hand with reparations in California because it would create the conditions needed for Black students and families to feel valued, seen, and invested in. We are glad that Governor Newsom and our legislative representatives agree with how valuable this program is.

We’re sure you’ve heard that California is facing a gnarly budget deficit this year of almost $56 billion. Having a smaller budget means there’s less money to go around, and ultimately, less programs California can fund. This means anything and everything was on the chopping block including Community Schools, which has been helping Black and brown youth thrive with the support of millions of dollars. Policies come to life when they have the backing of funding and the most blatant way for California & lawmakers to show us they care about Community Schools is simple – by committing to fund it

On May 10, Governor Newsom released a “May Revise” which is his official proposal on how to spend California’s smaller budget and what programs he wants to cut. The May Revise left the atmosphere thick, tense, and turbulent. While Community Schools appeared safe, what we saw was only the Governor’s suggested budget, and Community Schools were still in danger as negotiations continued in the legislature. CFJ spent weeks navigating what the cuts meant for Black and brown youth, speaking to allies and partners, and analyzing how we can ensure our youth are protected on issues even beyond Community Schools. 

Budgets are a reflection of our values. Particularly during tough budget years, our representatives need to keep the wellbeing of youth, families, and their communities in mind – what brings us closer to our vision of Black liberation and schools as spaces of joy and belonging?  We are glad to see community schools funding protected, as well as programs that had been at risk of cuts and delays such as those to the Golden State Teachers Program. We were also encouraged by the Legislature being responsive to calls from community members across California asking them to divert funding from the carceral system to avoid some delays proposed in May Revise. As our partners at Californians United for a Responsible Budget remind us, by cutting services that support our community’s livelihood, we risk creating conditions for our community to become justice-involved and negatively impacted by the carceral system. Another change that would generate more revenue during this era when it’s most needed is to change the tax system to a more fair one that doesn’t inequitably benefit corporations over people.

So Community Schools are protected for the next year – now what? First, tap into the joy of knowing we pulled through a rough budget cycle! We witnessed lots of crucial programs facing cuts and the legislature’s commitment to Community Schools is proof that California is seeing how invaluable relationship-centered schools truly are. Then once we celebrate, we recalibrate. This year’s deficit is only the start of what will be a years-long path to recovery for California. We’ll be fighting for Community Schools over the next several years and we will continue to pressure the Governor and legislature to consider all the other options on the table. California does not need more prisons. It does not need to rely on the taxes of the working class. Most importantly, it does not need to endanger services for Black & brown youth to propel California forward. 

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