Fri. Sep 18th, 2020
Families focus on improving outcomes for most vulnerable students

Submitted by Wild Rivers Community Foundation – Crescent City, CA. September 25, 2018

Concerned parents and students in Del Norte County and Tribal Lands are organizing to improve school educational opportunities and outcomes for the most vulnerable students. They, like parents and students across the state, recognize that when school districts genuinely consult with students and parents about their needs and direct funding towards addressing those needs, great things can happen.

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) represents an opportunity for our school district to try some new intervention strategies based on input from local stakeholders, to assist students in receiving the best possible education in Del Norte County. The process also requires the district to include direct input from the community on how to create a more productive learning environment.

“We need to put ‘the Local Control’ back into the Local Control Funding Formula process,” said McQuillen the Education Director for the Yurok Tribe. “It’s crucial that communities are armed with the knowledge they need to partner with school officials. Experience has shown that the individuals who are most equipped to make key school funding decisions are the parents and students who will be most impacted by those policies,” McQuillen said.

The Del Norte County School District is in the process of creating a three-year plan for addressing the needs of foster, low-income, English Language learners, and homeless students. Current state legislation requires that the school district engage with parents, students, and community members and incorporate their feedback when making decisions about school funding.

Sam Bradshaw, current youth organizer and former Del Norte Unified student stated, “When the district accepted this money they also accepted the responsibility to spend these funds in a way that will improve the experience of the targeted groups of vulnerable students and increase their ability to be successful in school life. Unfortunately, in my experience growing up in Del Norte and now working with youth, the groups that are targeted to be receiving these funds are not receiving what they need to be successful and supported in school.”

She went on to say, “The people who will be directly affected by the decisions on how these funds are spent need to be heard because they know better than anyone else what they need. People are the experts of their own experience.”

In late August parents, students, and community members participated in a series of interactive trainings put on by the Whose Schools? Our Schools! group to learn about how we can all work together to make positive changes in our schools for students and families who need it the most.  These trainings were led by Families in Schools, an organization that works nationwide to help communities create “a public education system where students have all the opportunities and resources necessary to succeed in school and in life.” Through these trainings participants learned how to be advocates for equity within the school funding process.

Whose Schools? Our Schools! exists to ensure that the voices of all community members, especially those who are most impacted by funding decisions, are included in the priority setting and decision-making process. One way to make sure that these voices are heard is through online organizing and outreach. Whose Schools? Our Schools! has created social media platforms that users can easily connect with to stay up to date on our work and meetings:

Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/whoseschools) and Instagram (@whose_schools)

However, one lesson that’s been learned from previous outreach efforts is that many members of our community do not have reliable access to the Internet.  Meaningful community engagement efforts cannot stop with online outreach and/or surveys. Throughout the school year Whose Schools? Our Schools! will be partnering with the school district to conduct a two-part series of public community meetings in Smith River, Klamath, and Crescent City to inform community members and students about the LCFF process and to better understand the needs of the community. Steve Godla, Assistant Superintendent of the Del Norte Unified School District states, “Informed stakeholders that are listened to and made aware of the many issues surrounding LCFF and the LCAP process are an essential component of developing a meaningful LCAP.”

In addition to these community meetings, Whose Schools? Our Schools! will be providing trainings to provide community members with the opportunity to become education advocates. By raising awareness about school funding issues, needs, and priorities the community will be able to come together with the district to create the most equitable solutions for all Del Norte students.

“The state of our schools reflects the condition of our community. When our students succeed the entire community succeeds. We invite everyone who cares about our schools to be part of this movement for positive change!” concluded McQuillen, the Education Director for the Yurok Tribe.

Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/whoseschools) and Instagram (@whose_schools)

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