L.A. Unified Leaders, Labor Partners Demand Increased Funding for Public Education

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 2, 2017) -The Los Angeles Unified School District leaders called today on state and federal legislators to address California’s woefully underfunded public education system.

California continues to rank near the bottom nationally in per-pupil spending. Furthermore, the inadequate funding of our public schools makes it increasingly difficult to fund the growing needs of our students with disabilities.

“It is imperative that our lawmakers join with District leaders, the Board of Education and our labor partners to put students, families and employees first,” said Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “We look forward to working with our representatives to provide a path to fully fund the educational needs of ALL students.”

Board of Education members added their voices to the call for action.

“Our community is united in calling on the state leadership for increased support for our children and TK-12 schools,” said School Board President Mónica García. “We stand ready and willing to fight for our future and continued transformation.”

“The state of California funds public education at a rate of half of New York and that needs to change,” said School Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “California is the sixth-largest economy in the world, and our kids deserve at least double the current per-pupil funding from a state that leads the country in so many other ways.”

“California is a standard bearer in the nation in many ways, and we should strive to regain our place as the leader in per-pupil spending,” said School Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III. 

“California now ranks as the world's sixth-largest economy,” said School Board Member
Scott M. Schmerelson. “If our children are going to be prepared and successful, and our economy competitive in the 21st century, our commitment to funding public education must reflect our stature. Nothing is more critical for the future of our state.”

School Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez said, “I support L.A. Unified’s efforts to encourage our governor and state Legislature to increase per-pupil funding. Our schools deserve the resources necessary to boost academic progress and prepare students for college and the workforce. The Local Control Funding Formula is a step in the right direction, but the resources are insufficient. Our students need and deserve more.”

At its November meeting, the board will be considering a resolution that calls on California lawmakers to more than double the per-pupil funding over the next five years. 

“It’s past time for California to restore its position as a national leader in investing in our public schools,” said School Board Member Kelly Gonez, the lead sponsor of the resolution. “That is why my colleagues and I have put forward a resolution for our next meeting that calls for the state to substantially increase its funding so we can offer our students and families the public education they deserve.”

"California has made some progress since the nadir of 2008-2011, and the passage and renewal of Proposition 30 has allowed us to make serious investments in education,” said School Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “However, California still ranks behind the national average in per-pupil spending, which is simply unacceptable, given that we have one of the largest student populations in the country, and one of the largest high-needs student populations. We must make sure that education spending, and timely reimbursement from the state and federal governments for their mandates, are priority-one moving forward."

The Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents principals and other administrators, joined District leaders in their call for additional resources. Leaders of other unions that represent L.A. Unified employees also voiced their support.

“There is no more precious resource than our youth, yet California spends seven times more money per prisoner than per student. What does this say about our priorities?” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. “We join in the righteous call for more educational funding. But we know it will take more than just words or rhetoric.

“UTLA, along with community and labor partners across Los Angeles and the state, is gathering momentum around the ‘20 x 20 campaign’ – to bring $20,000 per pupil by 2020,” he continued. “Last month, UTLA put a bargaining proposal across the table to have the District advocate for this position. Our public schools should not be threatened with privatization and they should be fully funded. We are here to build a movement to save public education, school by school, neighborhood by neighborhood and district by district. Because when our children see an investment in public schools, they see an investment in themselves.”

 

“Full funding for the most vulnerable people in our society – our special-needs students – enables our teachers, supervisors and classified employees the ability to provide the pathway for a successful life in our L.A. Unified community,” said Letetsia Fox, chapter president of the Classified School Employees Association Local 500.

 

“As long as California continues to shortchange children, families and the employees who serve them, fulfilling the promise of a quality public education for all will remain unattainable,” said Max Arias, executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 99. “As workers and parents, we are deeply committed to ensuring a world class education for every child. We will continue the fight for increased and equitable funding for schools.”

 

“The local affiliated building trades unions of Los Angeles County strongly support this call to action,” said Ron Miller, Executive Secretary of the LA/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. “As we see in our apprenticeship programs, education is the key to our future, and each student deserves the chance to learn to their full ability.”

“For several decades now we have heard politicians of both parties promise to adequately fund education in California as we have fallen woefully behind other less prosperous states when it comes to funding education,” said Rick Middleton, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 572. “Despite California having one of the largest and strongest economies in the world, we continue to underfund education to the detriment of our economy and our future. In a global economy education is the great equalizer and by not adequately funding education we are jeopardizing our standing as a leader.”

“I am a product of the public-school system, being labeled every acronym after my name by the educators of this system; IEP, RSP, special ed, etc.,” said Rudy Perez, vice president of the Los Angeles School Police Officer Association. “I represent the interests of 500 police officers in the Los Angeles area who protect this nation’s most valuable resource; our children. For many years, unions have held back organizations to benefit their own interests and I swore this would never happen under my watch. My approach to union leadership is to not only better the union and its members, but the organization that they work for every day.”

“Our law enforcement supervisors recognize the dire underfunding of California public schools,” said P.J. Webb, president of the Los Angeles School Police Management Association. “We join in calling on our legislators to take immediate steps to increase funding for our public schools in order to ensure that all our students – including those with special needs – continue to be provided with the world-class education they deserve and have come to expect from public institutions such as the Los Angeles Unified School District.”

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Contact: Monica Carazo (213) 241-6766