Gov. Should Sign AB 2384: An Important Step In Improving Schools

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For California to thrive and prosper, it must prepare for the future by building a strong public education system today — one that supports student success and nurtures the innate potential of every child. An essential element of such a system is parent and community involvement in our schools.

As a parent who has served on the “schoolsite council” for my daughter’s school, I believe AB 2384 can help reach those goals.

 

I was nervous, but hopeful, when we enrolled my daughter in kindergarten at the UCLA Community School, a K-12 LAUSD public school serving the working class, immigrant neighborhoods of Pico-Union and Koreatown. In response to the challenges often faced by low-income and English Learner students in urban public schools, parents, teachers, students, and administrators have built an engaged school community, committed to graduating all students as bi-literate, bi-lingual, multicultural, and self-directed learners who are active and critical participants in society. To support this vision, I joined our schoolsite council — a group of teachers and parents — and students at the secondary level — in California schools who work with their principal to develop and evaluate school improvement plans, programs, and budgets.

 

I’ve learned a lot since joining the council; I have a clearer view of what it will take to build the education system we all need. Last year, the state took a big step forward when Governor Brown bolstered support to California schools by signing the innovative Local Control Funding Formula into law, increasing funding for all schools and directing resources to schools that need extra help, like my daughter’s.

The law also required each school district to develop an accountability plan to ensure that the needs of all students — including low-income students and students of color — were being met.

Now California has another opportunity to strengthen its public school system. AB 2384 would improve schoolsite councils by empowering them to better implement the goals of the new accountability plans embodied in the Local Control Funding Formula.

 

While my school site council experience has been rewarding, my council colleagues and I face several challenges that AB 2384 would help remove. First, it would provide instruction on how to fulfill our responsibilities in a way that supports the greatest outcomes for our children. Although our principal and school staff do an amazing job guiding the council, we parents often do not understand state laws affecting schools, rules associated with the money we are tasked with budgeting, or the kinds of programs that could be most impactful in our school. AB 2384 would help us do our job better by requiring our school district to provide training.

 

Second, AB 2384 would help school site councils to ensure that the school is on track to meet the goals of their accountability plans. Like the Local Control Funding Formula mandates, the bill prioritizes parent and student engagement and improving school climate, creating an environment where students and school employees feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe, and everyone is engaged and respected.

 

Finally, the new law would include more diverse voices on the schoolsite council. In addition to parents and teachers, AB 2384 requires council membership for non-teacher school employees and, starting in high school, students and community organizations as well. UCLA Community School has a unique partnership with the University of California-Los Angeles, which has served alongside our schoolsite council members. AB 2384 would ensure that other schools benefit from these partnerships and that community voices, including parents and students, have equal representation to school employees within the council.

 

AB 2384 would empower school site councils by helping them understand how to better implement the Local Control Funding Formula and thus realize the potential of the school and its students. By signing this bill into law, the governor would again demonstrate his commitment to better California schools and to a more secure California future.

 

Jeremy Lahoud is a parent of a third grader at UCLA Community School and preschooler at Ralph Parsons Preschool in Los Angeles. 

 
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