*I am a Los Angeles local who was educated in our public schools, Audubon Jr. High and Crenshaw High School. It’s been decades since I walked across the stage and received my diploma as a proud Cougar. One thing about then that remains true today is California’s Black students are falling behind in their academic performance. This poor academic performance is not limited to inequitable access to quality K-12 programs, inexperienced teachers, low expectations, racial bias, trauma and lack of services. Our youth deserve better, they deserve fairness and equity — and they deserve it now.
There’s a proposed fix that’s making its way through the State Legislature in Sacramento, AB 2774 (Assemblymembers Weber and Holden), Education Equity Now. Before I tell you about the solution, here’s what the proposal will address.
In 2013, California attempted to create equality in school funding by developing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCCF) which was designed to provide more equitable funding, with the goal of adding additional funding to highest-need students.
The subgroups identified then and who are currently receiving funding include English Language Learners, low-income students, and foster/homeless youth. There is no denying students who are members of these groups deserve the additional financial support to ensure they are receiving the educational opportunities they deserve. However, the LCCF formula fails to include a subgroup of the lowest performing students to receive supplemental funds. For the past two decades that has been Black students.
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The achievement gap for Black students is pervasive regardless of income. 2019 statewide testing data shows that Black students are the lowest-performing subgroup with 67% not meeting English Language Standards and 79 % not meeting Math Standards. As a result of inadequate support and funding, Black students have the highest suspension rate of any subgroup at 8.8% and the lowest graduation rate at 76.8%.
This year marks 68 years since the Supreme Court ended school segregation with the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. That ruling was the first step in a long road to equality in our country’s educational system.
But we can’t stop there. Now, in California, a state known for its opportunity and innovation, we have the opportunity to continue pushing for equality for our youth, and our future and passing AB 2774.
This legislation will benefit Black students by creating a new supplemental grant for the lowest-performing subgroup of students not receiving LCFF funds. It is estimated AB 2774 would help generate more than $400 million for public schools across the state to provide critically needed academic support for Black students.
When these funds are provided to historically under-resourced, underserved communities, they will receive part of the resources needed to help give our schools what they need to achieve and meet a higher standard.
Education is the key to equity, equality, opportunity, and advancement. We must provide the support and resources to our young people so that they can succeed.
When the bar is raised in our under-resourced communities, we can raise standards for all Golden State students, and we achieve together.
About the Author: The Rev. Jonathan E.D. Moseley is western regional director of the National Action Network (NAN)