May 3, 2013
By Barbara Grady
Underpaid teachers, kids wishing they had counselors to talk with and crowded classrooms where students learning English don’t get enough help could all be in the past for Oakland schools if the governor’s plan for reforming education funding prevails.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula being debated in the state legislature would boost funding for all school districts, but give substantially more per pupil funding for students who are low income, are English learners or who are in foster care. Also, school districts with concentrations of such students would get an additional bonus.
For Oakland, this could mean as much as much as $3,860 more per student in seven years from now, according to state figures – half again as much as Oakland receives per pupil now. If it gets passed by the legislature before June 30, it could mean a boost of $271 per student right away in September.
So much is at stake for Oakland schools, that students at Castlemont and Skyline High Schools asked three legislators representing Oakland, the county education superintendnet and the Oakland acting superintendent-elect to commit to supporting the measure and work for its passage. Inviting them to a youth event at Castlemont High School on Wednesday, they received those commitments from assistants to Rep. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley and Oakland), Rep. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Alameda County Education Superintendent Sheila Jordan and personally from Dr. Gary Yee, superintendent-elect of Oakland. They all listened to the students.
“To me, it seems very important,” said Precious Brazil, one of the student campaigners and a sophomore at Castlemont. “I was a foster youth for a while. I feel that is I had support when I was going though my situation, I would have done better in school.”
Yee, who will become acting superintendent on June 30, not only committed to advoate for the measure but said he’s arranged to meet with legislators next week to convince them of its importance.