Students from all over California gather in Sacramento to support Governor Jerry Brown’s Weighted Pupil Proposal.
The California budget is probably the last thing on a high school student’s mind. If they were more aware of the current situation though, they’d probably be as involved as the 17 LBUSD students who, through the Campaign for Quality Education (CQE), went to the state capitol to show support for Governor Jerry Brown’s Weighted Pupil Proposal.
The proposal would shift the way that funding for school districts gets distributed, changing from a system based primarily on attendance to one that is geared at giving more money to districts that need it for students with special needs or English language learners.
“We traveled to Sacramento to challenge the Brown Administration and the Legislature to work together to enact a new student-weighted formula that is good for all students and good for California,” said Fermin Vasquez of Californians for Justice.
The proposal would make a number of changes: schools will get a base funding per student of about $4,920 and an additional $1,820 will be given for each low-income and/or English-Language Learning student (ELL). If the school is made up of more than 50 percent low income and/or ELL students, their funding would increase an additional 37 percent for every 10 percent over. If passed, the proposal would go into effect over the next six years.
The CQE’s support of the bill didn’t come without suggestions though.
They hope weighted funds will be used to target the students who generate these additional funds. Also, there has to be accountability for how the funds get spent before the school district even receives the money. Finally, there must be transparency with the budget, so it is easy to see how the public school funds are being spent at all levels.
“I hope students took away the dynamics of power at play when fighting for change through the electoral system,” said Vasquez. “I hope students were inspired by each other and realize that they are part of the same struggle to make our education system better.”
The LBUSD students had many reasons for taking the long bus trip to Sacramento. “We feel that it’s unfair that we get the lower end and we sit back and suffer. There’s nobody responding for us so we just spoke up for our community,” said Diwaine Smith from Men Making a Change, a youth group based at the Long Beach Community Action Partnership. Smith expressed his excitement over the turnout of students from all over California. “There are people who care about low income communities… It’s not just me!” said Smith.
Others who made the trip took away more than they might have expected. “Coming home from this, I’m going to have a sense of accomplishment and knowledge of advocating for education,” said Gabino Ramirez, a Jordan High School student.
As the rally came to a close, hundreds marched around the capitol. Performances of poetry and spoken word showcased the potential and ability of these young advocates and by the end of the rally, it was impossible to identify which student came from what part of the state.