The Blog at CTA

Funding Shortfalls are Harming Students, Other Californians of Color, Advocacy Group Warns

Citing the fact that the majority of California students are now Latinos, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) kicked off a Wednesday afternoon panel discussion of the Latino State of the State by challenging California to become a “state of justice” for all its residents.

During the second annual Latino State of the State, MALDEF President and Chief Counsel Thomas Saenz (at podium)  introduces a panel of experts who reported how state revenue shortfalls are harming children and adults of color, as well as other Californians relying on public services, including public education.  Serving on the panel were (from r.) Pablo Alvarado, of the National Day Labor Organizing Network; Mary Lee Fulton, the California Endowment; Claudia Pena, of the CA Civil Rights Coalition; and Tim Silard, of the Rosenberg Foundation.

MALDEF’s Thomas Saenz ‘s keynote address laid out the themes that the four members of an expert panel addressed: the state’s desperate need for new revenues and focus to help achieve and maintain equity in opportunity and achievement for all Californians.

“About investment… we cannot fulfill equality of opportunity for Latino students if we continue to disinvest in education,” Saenz told about 100 participants. “We must overcome budget problems and ensure investment in our future Latino and non-Latino students is vigorous and successful in producing equality of outcome and opportunity.”

“We know disinvestment is not a state of justice,” Saenz declared.

The panelists - Pablo Alvarado, of the National Day Labor Organizing Network; Mary Lee Fulton, of the California Endowment; Claudia Pena, of the California Civil Rights Coalition; and Tim Silard, of the Rosenberg Foundation --  put their own focus on revenues, education, and equity and called on Californians to support coalitions working for change and revenue enhancements.

Alvarado talked about the plight of day laborers, some of whom are not paid for their work and turned over to immigration officials instead.

Pena sketched out how the recession has not only forced philanthropic organizations to undertake some of the services formerly provided by government, but it has also forced them to cut back their allocations to civil rights organizations.

Fulton talked about the implications of a recent federal survey that documented disparities in disciplinary treatment of students of color in schools.  She urged parents and teachers to take up the challenge and talk about the issue and identify successful alternative strategies that won’t result in the suspensions of minority students.

Silard talked about efforts to organize car wash workers in Los Angeles and the need for coalition-building to create momentum for change. He also noted the irony of California’s spending more than $14 billion annually to incarcerate adults while reducing funding in education, health access, drug treatment, and crime prevention, “all of which are less expensive and have far better results in reducing crime” [than incarceration].

The panel ironically began about an hour after Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he and proponents of a rival Millionaire’s Tax measure had reached an accord that would create a hybrid measure backed by both camps.  The measure is aimed at raising billions of dollars to help fund education and other vital services identified by panel participants.

CTA’s State Council of Education will be reviewing the new measure during its March convening in Los Angeles.

Story and photo by Len Feldman

comments powered by Disqus

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association