OAKLAND—On Tuesday, April 30, leaders from across Oakland held a community education forum at Castlemont High School to call attention to Gov. Jerry Brown’s bold new education initiative, the Local Control Funding Formula. The Local Control Funding Formula, which is currently being debated in the state Legislature, would bring much-needed resources to schools in Oakland and other urban cities across the state that are struggling with overcrowded classes and high dropout rates after years of budget cuts and funding inequalities.

“Rich schools in the suburbs look like Ivy League universities, but my school is more like a prison,” said Willie Williams, a sophomore and Youth Together leader at Fremont High School in Oakland. “We have more security guards than college counselors! That’s why I’m telling the Legislature to pass LCFF – so my school, and all schools, can get the resources we need for students to succeed.”

At the forum—titled, “The Time for Equity is Now”—parents, students, teachers, support staff, administrators, clergy, labor and community leaders joined together to call on elected leaders across California to support Gov. Brown’s proposal for equity in educational funding to provide critical support for low-income students, English language learners and students in foster care-all of whom would benefit from Local Control Funding Formula. With the new education initiative, low-income students, English Learners and foster youth in every school throughout the state would get 35% more funding. Additional per pupil funding would be provided for schools in which more than 50% of the students are low-income, English learners and foster youth. That would mean that more money would go to students in Oakland and other communities with the greatest need.

“At CCPA, 90% of our student body is on free and reduced lunch and the funding has dropped,” said Deanita Lewis, the parent coordinator at Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA) and an OCO leader. “We have had much higher teacher and support staff turnover rates because the conditions are so challenging. Our students can’t take books home. That’s why we need to address these funding inequities and pass the Governor’s proposal now.”

Gov. Brown recently characterized the education initiative as a civil rights issue that deals with “the fact of life that there are deep inequities” in California schools. A recent PPIC poll also stated that 71% of Californians are united in support of additional funds for low-income students. The community’s message is clear: We have a historic opportunity to change the way schools are funded in California to provide more resources to low-income students of color to increase equity and improve opportunities and outcomes. By supporting the Local Control Funding Formula, we are also fulfilling the promise thousands of members of communities voted for when we passed Proposition 30. The time for equity is now.

The Campaign for Quality Education is a coalition that includes Youth Together, Californians for Justice, Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN) and AYPAL.

One of the largest and most historic community organizing networks in Oakland, Oakland Community Organizations currently organizes with 70 congregations and schools across the city of Oakland. A powerful, multi-ethnic organization that is transforming Oakland into a place of justice and equity, OCO’s mission is to develop leaders who build power through their organization to bring about systemic change and improve the quality of life for their families. OCO is the founding affiliate of the PICO National Network, one of the largest and fastest growing community organizing efforts in the country. Learn more at www.oaklandcommunity.org.