Where are all the children going? If parents are opting out of public schools, where are they sending their kids?
Things aren’t looking so sunny in the Golden State: a recent article via City Journal reports that California schools aren’t meeting parent’s standards, causing many to opt-out of the public education system:
“In Los Angeles, defections are accelerating. Whereas L.A. Unified schools were home to 737,000 students 20 years ago, the district is now forecasting a 25,000-student drop by the fall, which would bring their attendance number below the 400,000 mark. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the district’s ‘American Rescue Plan’ funding will soon run out: ‘From July forward, the district is projected to spend about $1 billion more than it will take in over a two-year period. The district also must wrestle with underfunded retiree health benefits.’ Additionally, the district’s contract with United Teachers Los Angeles runs out at the end of the school year, and the union will demand the sun and the moon for the next contract.
San Diego, another troubled California city, is losing students from its public schools at a faster clip than district leaders expected, which will undoubtedly lead to financial difficulties. In Oakland, the school board has voted to close seven schools over the next two years due to sagging enrollment.”
But where are all these students going? While it’s true California lost many residents over the pandemic, according to an article there has been an uptick in charter and private school enrollment:
“Many who remain in California have enrolled their children in charter schools, which saw a 15,283 student gain in the 2020–2021 school year, a 2.3 percent rise from the previous year, bringing the total to 690,657. By contrast, the 160,000 students who exited the state’s public schools represent an almost 3 percent drop.”
With the surplus of funding hitting the state to address the achievement gap from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can only hope this funding will be allocated in the best way possible to benefit our children. Otherwise, students may find a home that benefits them, and their education, better.
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Maria Villamil is a Xicana Indigenous first generation daughter of Mexican and Zapotec parents. She is a single mother of two sons and daughter. She lives in San Gabriel Valley and attended LAUSD schools.
In her most recent tenure at CADRE- Community Asset Development Re Defining Education-Maria served as the Director of Organizing & Practice, She co-led the development and practice of CADRE’s core parent organizing and transformational leadership development. She was responsible for the management of CADRE’S organizing team and core parent leaders. She also led with her organizing team in a daily collaborative practice and day-to-day implementation of curriculum development, appreciative inquiry, facilitation, self-reflection, and popular education in training and developing parent leaders.
She has been involved in community transformation and organizing since her early years in high school. She has had the opportunity to work closely in community transformation and human development with many community leaders and organizations over the last two decades. Her personal experience in training on issues from school reform to race relations, community building across difference, organizing with marginalized youth and indigenous families does not compare to the living, breathing, and development of human transformation through her own personal practice and community relationships with others. Her belief in transformative leadership and social change in action is why she is passionate about working with parents, leaders, and community organizing.
She is part of our team because one of her greatest passions is to organize intergenerational healing, Community wellness, and Education Justice in underrepresented communities. Maria believes that through community organizing, human advocacy, and transformational strategies, we can all transform and heal African American, Latino, and indigenous relationships to build better relationships and change in schools and Education Reform across Los angeles and State.
Previous to her work at CADRE, She was one of the co-founding parents and organizers of Anahuacalmecac and Xinaxcalmecac, the first International Baccalaureate World Schools to be authorized in the City of Los Angeles. She was pivotal in leading a community-based group of parents and responsible for designing the parent engagement, leadership training, and organizing strategy plans for three charter school renewals in collective participation of teachers and community support. In her 15-year tenure and leadership at Semillas Sociedad Civil Schools, She was a Community Organizer, Strategist, Parent and Family Literacy Coordinator, Director of Development and Manager and lastly Chief of Staff for the two schools. Maria balances her rigor and passion for community organizing as a practitioner of healing arts in traditional medicine and Reiki. When she is not organizing in schools or practicing self-care she co-creates and facilitates wellness workshops with Florecimiento Ancestral, Mujeres de Maiz, and Wetskistle Theater.
She currently holds a BA in Chicano Studies and History from the University of California State Northridge. Certification in healing arts and wellness studies, She has over 650 hours herbal, folk, indigenous medicine, and massage therapy training from National Holistic Institute and Ancestral Apothecary School.