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Thanks to CAUSE and our statewide alliance California Calls, with a surge of voter turnout among young people, low-income families and immigrant communities, in 2012 we passed Prop 30, which ended years of cuts to schools and put the state budget in surplus. CAUSE supported an additional change made by lawmakers last year called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which directs additional funds to school districts with the most disadvantaged students and gives districts much more flexibility in how they spend their budgets. This is a historic opportunity to narrow the educational achievement gap in California, but it also makes it more important than ever before for local community organizations like CAUSE to engage parents and students in low-income communities to ensure accountability and transparency in spending the new funds.
CAUSE has been actively involved in the Oxnard Union High School District, Ocean View School District, Oxnard School District, Santa Paula Unified School District, Ventura Unified School District, Hueneme Elementary School District, Rio School District, Santa Barbara Unified School District, and Santa Maria Bonita Elementary School District. We’ve hosted and supported community forums on how to spend new funding, met with school district officials, brought together stakeholder groups representing parents, students and teachers to come to consensus on top priorities for improvement, turned out grassroots leaders to speak at school board meetings, and talked to hundreds of everyday parents and students to listen to their concerns and get them involved in the process. We’ve advocated for improvements based on parent, teacher and student concerns and each district’s unique needs including increased academic and social/emotional counseling, college preparation, afterschool tutoring, parent training and engagement, bilingual education and English Learner programs, smaller class sizes, restoring furlough days cut from the school year, improved nutrition and recreational opportunities, and expanded summer school options.
CAUSE is working to ensure school districts use a grassroots bottom-up, not top-down approach to developing their spending plans and meaningfully engage as many parents, teachers and students as possible in the process. We believe we can maximize the impact of new school resources when parent groups, youth organizations, teachers’ unions, and service providers come together in collaborative dialogue and find common ground. We are committed to solutions that invest in people, that come from concerns raised by community members, and that directly benefit low-income, English Learner and foster youth.