Speak UP's Executive Director Katie Braude Calls For More State Education Funding

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Speak UP Executive Director Katie Braude called for more state education funding at Tuesday’s LAUSD board meeting. Her comments came in support of a resolution from Board President Monica Garcia (BD2) and Richard Vladovic (BD7) to endorse the Schools and Communities First Funding Act, a 2020 ballot initiative to reform Prop 13 so that all commercial and industrial property owners pay their fair share of taxes, which will generate revenue for education funding. The resolution passed unanimously Tuesday. The full text of Braude’s remarks follow:

Good afternoon Board President Garcia, Vice President Melvoin, Superintendent Beutner, and board members. My name is Katie Braude, and I’m the executive director of Speak UP. I’m here today to express our support for this resolution because we absolutely must find a way to increase state funding for our LAUSD students, teachers and schools.

How is it that California, one of the wealthiest, most progressive places in the nation, is not at the top of all 50 states in terms of school funding? Our schools should be models for the nation and the world. We’re nowhere near where we need to be. 

LAUSD is facing a serious financial crisis. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the district is on the brink of insolvency and faces the very real possibility of a state takeover, which will only make matters worse.

We agree with our teachers: Class sizes are too high. We don’t have enough librarians and counselors. Teachers are underpaid. Kids with special needs are not getting the services they need, in part because the federal government is not pulling its weight. And that’s not going to get any better under the current administration.

At the same time, our civic institutions cannot continue to operate in silos. A well-funded public education system is essential to changing the lives of the 80% of LAUSD students who live near or in poverty. But when housing is unaffordable, and parents lack the skills to qualify for higher paying jobs, academic success does not eradicate the hunger, health problems, housing instability, or fear of losing a parent to deportation facing children at home.

 We must work together to address the whole picture. One step is to create community schools with wrap-around services, language and job training classes for parents, and early childhood education. But we need full funding and community and governmental partnerships to make that happen.

Speak UP and our parents join with LAUSD teachers in calling on the state of California to do more. We need a strategy to bring in more state revenue. Prop 13 has starved our schools, and wealthy commercial property owners must pay their fair share. We cannot go on like this, fighting over scraps. We urge you to vote yes on this resolution.