Re-Investing in Children and Youth
California has been systematically de-investing from our children’s educations for decades, and it’s time we turned that trend around. Despite being the fifth largest economy in the world and the richest state in the nation, our state is currently ranked 41st in per-pupil spending nationally. New York spends $29,000 per pupil per year, while California only spends $16,500 per pupil per year. That is simply unacceptable.
Jackie is dedicated to using her position on the Board, her experience as a state legislator, and her contacts in Sacramento to increase funding for public education state-wide. There is no quicker way to ensure smaller class sizes, a dedicated nurse and counselor at every school, and robust music and arts programs to enrich the experiences of our students.
This effort will take all of us, however. It will require us to make our voices heard in the offices of our state legislators. The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act, which will appear on the November 2020 ballot, also could restore $4.5 billion to support K-12 education and community colleges. You can join Jackie in urging our state elected officials to take action to make sure every student in California gets the education they deserve by heading over to our Resources page, which provides links that will help you find your state representative’s contact information.
Greening and Sustainability
We know that students do better when they’re on a campus that’s green and shaded rather than one that is covered in asphalt. Unfortunately, most of our students are not on green and shaded campuses. According to LAUSD’s Greening Index, the vast majority of District 5 schools lack adequate access to nature, and some have almost no green space at all. Jackie’s working hard to change that.
In 2022, the Board voted to ensure that all campuses will be 30% green space by 2035, and as Board President, one of Jackie’s first actions was to establish a Greening Schools and Climate Resilience Committee so that experts, advocates, and other members of the public can learn about what the district is doing in this area and advocate for additional resources and strategies.
Jackie has been persistent in helping schools apply for Sustainable Environment Enhancement Developments for Schools (SEEDS) grants, which provide up to $150,000 for gardens, trees, habitat restoration, and other projects. Over 30 schools in our district have received these
grants or are in the process, with grants totaling almost $1.3 million, and another $1.5 million in the works. That’s thousands of square feet of campus green space for students.
Jackie is also working to ensure that our schools have the necessary resources to be safe spaces for children, teachers, and staff as climate change brings increasingly extreme heat and other weather conditions.
Schools should be the crown jewel and centerpiece of thriving neighborhoods.
In 2017, a community-labor campaign established a Community Schools Initiative. In 2019, the UTLA teachers’ strike actually provided funding for the first cohort of schools. The Community Schools Initiative is a groundbreaking effort to redefine how our schools support student achievement, addressing the needs of students and their schools holistically.
Community Schools focus on developing relationships between students, educators, and their larger community, making comprehensive services like medical care, tutoring, nutritional education, and financial assistance programs available to students and their families. They also transform how teachers, staff, and administrators engage with students and their families through culturally relevant curriculum and shared decision-making that includes parents and other stakeholders.
As Board Member and Board President, Jackie has championed the growth of the Community Schools model. She has pushed for funding to create a Community Schools office in LAUSD, including a dedicated director who oversees implementation. She has also led efforts with her colleagues on the Board to expand funding for additional community schools, including advocating for the successful award of a State grant to ensure that there is adequate infrastructure in place to guarantee the success of the program.
Charter School Accountability
We have more charter schools, with more students enrolled, than any other district in the country. This has had a devastating effect on district schools: our loss in per-pupil funding causes operating shortfalls, and the co-location of charters on our campuses often creates a crisis on campus, with public schools losing space they need for learning centers, special programs, parent activities, and other efforts that are critical to student success.
Some recent changes have improved school districts’ ability to consider how charters impact the well-being of all students in our district. AB 1505, signed into law in 2019, empowers districts to close low-performing charters and gives districts the right to deny a request for a charter that duplicates programs already available in nearby schools, or a proposed charter that would do considerable harm to existing schools in the area.
One area where we still do not have the tools that we need to regulate charters is co-locations: by state law, charters have a right to some space in our schools. Jackie shares the concern we hear every day from parents in District 5, that co-locating charters has done real harm to their kids’ schools. She is working with LAUSD leadership and staff to create clear guidelines that will mitigate the negative impacts of co-locations throughout the district and especially at our most vulnerable schools.
School and Campus Upgrades
Small facility improvements makes a big difference for students and school staff.
Jackie has prioritized allocating resources to improvements that focus on safety, beautification, and enhancements to student learning environments, with a focus on providing funds to schools whose physical space has long been neglected.
She wants to make sure that every District 5 school has a safety buzzer by the end of her time in office. This sounds simple and basic, but it makes a big difference for staff by preventing unauthorized people from walking onto school grounds. She has also provided security cameras at dozens of schools to further provide a safe environment. She’s funded new marquees and other signage for schools in less visible locations, which increases parent and community engagement. The three oldest high schools in District 5—Eagle Rock, South Gate and Huntington Park High Schools— have received funding to dramatically upgrade their athletic facilities.