Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Public Advocates Endorses Schools & Communities First Initiative


Today, Public Advocates Inc. announces its endorsement of the Schools & Communities First ballot initiative and pledges to support the effort to place it before California’s voters on the November 2020 ballot and secure its passage. Below is a statement from our President and CEO Guillermo Mayer:

For nearly 50 years, Public Advocates has joined parents, students, teachers and community partners throughout California in working to create a public school system that serves all students. For far too long, our public schools have been woefully underfunded, leaving students of color and low-income students behind. Since the 1970s, as our public schools increasingly served more diverse students, our investment as a state in public education has plummeted, leaving us bouncing around the bottom third to, at times, near last place nationally for school funding and near dead last in school student-to-staff ratios. This year voters have an opportunity to right this wrong and turn the page on the racist underfunding of our public schools by supporting Schools & Communities First. 

Schools & Communities First is an important step towards California reclaiming its place as the Golden State when it comes to investing in young people. The initiative will close loopholes in the state’s tax system by requiring large corporations to pay their fair share of property taxes, while protecting homeowners and small businesses. This initiative would significantly boost equitable school funding through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) while supporting local governments to expand services to the same communities where schools with high-need students – English language learners, low-income, foster youth—are located. While LCFF was a significant community victory by providing the framework for more just school funding, equity for our kids and communities cannot be realized without adequate school funding. Most importantly, this measure comes authentically from, and has the growing support of the communities most impacted by our multi-decade disinvestment in public education and local government. We wholeheartedly support this grassroots movement to build racial and economic justice in California schools and communities. 

Supporting Schools & Communities First is consistent with Public Advocates’ nearly five decades of leadership in advocacy on school funding equity in California, from our role as a lead counsel in Serrano v. Priest (equalizing school funding statewide), Williams v. CA (requiring equal access to basic educational necessities), and the Campaign for Quality Education v. CA (seeking adequate school funding statewide) as well as our central role in helping to shape and implement the Local Control Funding Formula.

The Schools & Communities First initiative is a smart and just way to begin to address the adverse effects of our inequitable tax system under Prop 13. We are honored to join in this movement, which will take us that much closer to the day when all schools will be beacons of hope and places of infinite possibility and opportunity for every public school student in California.

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