“Equality is leaving the door open for anyone who has the means to approach it; equity is ensuring there is a pathway to that door for those who need it” – Caroline Belden
Many of us have experienced a year of hardship, grief, trauma, and loss. While vaccinations and a path to recovery move forward in California, the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately impact BIPOC and low income communities in Los Angeles. Education leaders must reconcile with the reality that COVID-19 has drastically impacted two academic years in a student’s education trajectory. As LAUSD and districts across the country continue to monitor and assess both school reopenings and remote learning, now is the time to lead with equity. Creating a more equitable world begins with recognizing that young people need to be cared for holistically. Students can achieve their full potential when they are supported emotionally, physically, and cognitively.
Students are intersectional beings who deserve every opportunity to thrive and maximize their cognitive and emotional development. After months of organizing the Equity Alliance for LA’s Kids, a coalition of organizations that advocate for comprehensive change to address the systems that uphold the legacy of white supremacy, we called on LA Unified to allocate more dollars into need-based funding. The Student Equity Need Index, SENI, is a student-based equity lens framework used to inform the allocation of funds so that LAUSD can efficiently tackle the district’s growing achievement gap.
Last week the LA Unified School Board voted 6-1 to raise the amount that the district invests in schools through the Student Equity Needs Index (SENI) to $700 million dollars annually. In the current school year, the district invested $282 million through SENI. That means that the Board has more than doubled SENI in one budget season and that our schools serving communities like Watts, Boyle Heights, and South LA will be gaining hundreds of thousands (and in some cases millions) of additional dollars effective immediately!
La Comadre applauds LAUSD’s leadership to prioritize equity in our school’s budget! As we continue to monitor the district’s pathway to recovery, we urge our elected board members to lead with political courage. The work of racial justice and equity in education is far from over, now is the time for education leaders to turn values into action. We owe it to both the past and present generation of organizers to ensure that every child, regardless of skin color or zip code, has access to equitably funded schools.
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