California Proposed Budget Falls Short Bridging the Achievement Gap for Black Students, California’s Lowest-Performing Subgroup
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Black in School Coalition, which represents students, schools, educators, and civil rights leaders, today called on Governor Newsom to move beyond rhetoric and make a real investment in California’s lowest-performing students – noting that the Governor’s current 2023-24 budget proposal fails to provide specific and concrete solutions that bridge the achievement gap for Black students, California’s lowest performing subgroup in schools.
The Governor’s State Budget includes $300 million in ongoing funding in a general “equity” proposal focused on local control and more funding that targets low-performing schools, rather than the lowest-performing students. There is a difference.
“In a 2019 budget deal cut by former Governor Brown, a one-time block grant of $300 million for all low-performing students was approved in response to a call to action from education advocates to address the severe and persistent underperformance of Black students in California public schools,” said Dr. Margaret Fortune, president of Fortune School of Education and a key member of the Black in School Coalition. “It sounded good at the time, but the outcome was that Black students got a paltry 8% of the funding and their performance has gotten worse not better. I am concerned Governor Newsom is heading down the same path.”
“Historically, the children who need the most help in California don’t fare well with general, so-called equity measures where money is doled out based on their representation in the school population. Black and Native American students get crumbs,” said Christina Laster, education advisor for Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Western Region.
The serious issue that needs to be addressed is that over the past few decades, Black students have been the lowest-performing students in the state with 70% not meeting the English Language Arts standards and 84% not meeting math standards. Native American students aren’t far behind. A concerning 67% of Native American students did not meet English Language Arts standards and 80% did not meet the math standards.
Is it fair that the lowest performing students get the least amount of resources out of policy solutions made in their name? Every year we don’t address this problem head-on, Black student performance gets worse.
Our coalition’s proposal which was supported by both parties and houses in the Legislature, initially was $400M in ongoing funding for the lowest performing subgroup, not already receiving funding, who today are Black students, followed by Native Americans. One in four Black students are not receiving supplemental funding through the LCFF and are not recognized by the state as high-needs students despite the subgroup’s chronic underachievement.
“Governor Newsom’s budget proposal does not truly address the pervasive achievement gap of Black students regardless of income across the state that last year’s legislation aimed to address,” said Joette Spencer-Campbell, NAACP San Bernardino education chair and a leader in the Black in School Coalition. “Furthermore, his Administration’s promise to work with our Coalition has fallen short. To truly address this equity issue, we must focus on the students who are the lowest performing and provide them with the resources they need.”
“We are disappointed as we have seen Governor Newsom challenge the status quo time and again and he reiterated these positions when he was sworn into his second term of office last week,” said Cary Lackey, Esq., legal counsel for the Alpha Community Education Initiative and legal counsel to the Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. Western Region Vice President for Educational Affairs said. “Why not also stand up for Black students and work with us to shatter the status quo and address the systemic inequities that are in our schools and that are negatively impacting Black students? This proposal is focused more on rhetoric than substance and we are telling state leaders we no longer accept rhetoric.”
Last year’s legislation was supported by the Fortune School of Education (Sponsor), California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond (Co-Sponsor), Elite Public Schools (Co-Sponsor), A Black Education Network (Co-Sponsor), National Action Network, Western Region (Co-Sponsor), National Action Network, Sacramento (Co-Sponsor), NAACP California Hawaii (Co-Sponsor), NAACP San Bernardino (Co-Sponsor), Alpha Community Education Initiative (Co-Sponsor), National Coalition of 100 Black Women Sacramento (Co-Sponsor), Black Students of California United (Co-Sponsor), California State Parent Teacher Association, California Alliance of Child and Family Services, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Education Trust-West, Trustee Bina Lefkowitz, Sacramento County Board of Education, and the Sacramento County Board of Education.