Bill calling for targeted funding for low-performing black students moves forward
A bill that would generate more than $400 million for about 785 public school districts across the state to provide much-needed academic support to black students is on its way to California’s Senate Appropriations Committee.
Drafted by Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), Assembly Bill (AB) 2774, passed the Senate Education Committee with a 7-0 vote on June 30, the last day before the Legislative Assembly’s summer recess.
“Thank you, California State Senate Education Committee, for passing my bills,” Weber said via his Twitter account. “Our shared goals are to keep our students safe, to provide each of them with opportunities to excel academically, and to receive the support they need to stay in school and graduate. .”
Weber introduced the AB 2774 in February. The bill is co-authored by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Both are members of the California Legislative Black Caucus.
Ahead of the Senate Education Committee vote, many supporters of the bill around the world the state rallied from “Swing Space” — temporary legislative offices while the Capitol is being renovated — to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the bill. The building is located one block south of the State Capitol.
Margaret Fortune, Fortune School of Education; Yolanda Moore, Clovis Unified Board of Education, Keshia Thomas, Fresno, Unified School District Board of Education and students from Fresno, Sacramento and Elk Grove made an appearance.
In addition, Sacramento County Democratic Party Chairperson Tracie Stafford, Chache Wright of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of San Bernardino, and directors of the Sacramento County Board of Education, Al Brown and Bina Lefkovitiz, joined the supporters of AB 2774.
“There is an undeniable achievement gap when it comes to black children and we cannot continue to fail them,” Moore said. “Our students want to do better; they want to be held to a higher standard, but they need our focus and effort to get them there. AB 2774 would push for sustainable, equitable, and academic growth.
AB 2774 addresses equity issues with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which was created to provide supplemental funding to the neediest students in California.
AB 2772 would modify the definition of “non-duplicated students” for the 2023-2024 fiscal year to include students who are included in the lowest performing “subgroup or subgroups,” as defined in the language.
Subgroups identified as non-duplicated students receiving additional funding include English language learners, low-income students, and foster/homeless youth.
The adjustment is based on the most recent results available in math or language arts on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, as specified.
“I specifically want to call on the governor to support AB 2774,” Fortune said. “Everyone would agree that there is a crisis that 67% of black children cannot read academically in our public schools. Now is the time for (Governor Gavin Newsom) to stand up to this issue. This group of students deserves support.
The LCFF was enacted in 2013. Weber said more than a quarter of black students do not receive additional funding through the LCFF.
In 2019, test data showed that black students are the lowest-performing subgroup on state-standardized tests, with 67% failing English Language Arts (ELA) and 79% failing the mathematical standard.
AB 2774 states that the subgroup identified for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, based on the 2018-2019 California Assessment of Student Achievement and Progress (CAASPP) scores “must be included in the number of students “unduplicated” until their scores equal or exceed the top-performing subgroup (Asian American students).
AB 2774 would require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to annually identify the lowest performing student subgroup(s) and allow school districts and charter schools to review and revise their submitted data on students included in the lowest performing subgroup(s).
There are nearly 310,000 black students enrolled in California public schools. About 80,000 black students in the state receive no additional funding under the LCFF, according to data compiled by the California Department of Education.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond supports the legislation.
“This is a state of emergency and we have been in a state of emergency for far too long and nothing has been done,” Thurmond said. “We cannot and will not continue to let our babies fall behind.”