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The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) recently withdrew a proposal for “Student-Centered Funding” (SCF), which would have dramatically changed how LA schools are funded, undermined neighborhood schools in Black and Brown communities, and undercut core civil rights guarantees in education.

The SCF plan was withdrawn after mobilization of public opposition by parents, families, students, and educators. Prior to the campaign, LAUSD was treating the SCF plan as a fait accompli, but after a series of press conferences, rallies, grassroots testimony at board meetings, policy analyses and reports, the plan was withdrawn because the majority of the school board opposed it.

“As a Black student, I was worried that if the LAUSD School Board approved “Student-Centered’ Funding, Black and Brown students would lose many of the resources we and the community have fought so hard for under the Black Student Achievement plan. Cutting funds to schools in the Black student achievement plan and community schools undermines equity, it does not advance it. Thankfully, the majority of the LAUSD Board understood that Student Centered Funding did not equal equity,” said Lakell White, a 10th grade student leader with Students Deserve at Dorsey High School.

“Schools are essential to our neighborhoods. SCF would have produced competition for students, cuts in programs like arts and libraries, and school closings. Any equity plan in LAUSD needs to prioritize strengthening schools in Black and Brown communities and not add to the disinvestment from our neighborhoods. We demonstrated community power, by convincing the majority of the board to reject Student Centered Funding,” said Eloisa Galindo, a parent leader with East Side Padres Contra La Privatización who has two daughters at Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High School.

“Student-Centered Funding,” a program implemented by former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, would dramatically shift the way schools are funded by assigning each student a dollar value and making funding portable. This creates competition between schools instead of centrally funding the programs and staff that students need, including teachers, nurses, librarians, social workers, and more. “Student-Centered Funding” also involves a waiver of federal Title I protections, which guarantee that students in high poverty schools receive programs designed to meet their academic needs. In LAUSD these programs include tutoring, smaller class sizes in Math and English language arts classes, counselors and social workers. Title I is a fundamental civil rights issue and was established in 1965 in response to the Civil Rights Movement.

“Title I is a fundamental Civil Rights victory and the longest standing program for educational equity in the country. Getting rid of students’ educational rights under Title I and these vital programs in our schools would have been a terrible mistake. Due to our unified opposition to the plan, the Board saw the wisdom in saying no to Student Centered Funding,” said Kathy Guyton, a parent leader with Students Deserve, who has a daughter at Mann UCLA Community School.

“The withdrawal of the SCF motion is a powerful win for public education,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said. “We have won this round and have set ourselves up strongly for the rest of the fight and for going on the offense for authentic equity and all the resources and support our students deserve.”

Under the proposed SCF plan, 45 percent of Black Student Achievement Plan schools, 47 percent of Community Schools, and 38 percent of Student Equity Needs Index Highest and High Need schools in the district would have lost funding.

“I was blown away during the board meeting where I gave public comment, by the complacency from some of our board members to simply accept the fact that some of our schools most in need would become collateral damage by divesting from those schools to invest in others, that is definitely not equity,” said Alejhandra Delgadillo, a parent leader with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment who has multiple children in LAUSD. “And I was thrilled that the majority of the board listened to our voices and said no to SCF.”

The coalition of organizations involved in fighting against Student Centered Funding included Reclaim Our Schools LA, Students Deserve, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, United Teachers of Los Angeles, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, three branches of the NAACP–Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, and Beverly Hills/Hollywood, Black Lives Matter LA, Labor Community Strategy Center, Fannie Lou Hamer Institute, Eastside Padres Contra La Privatizacion, 3rd World Power, Parents Supporting Teachers, Gamaliel of California, and Network for Public Education.