Education advocates rally on steps of the capitol advocating for more choice.
SACRAMENTO, CA --Hundreds of African American charter public school advocates, teachers, parents, and students rallied the State Capitol on the first day of Black History Month to shine a light on funding and education disparities facing Black students in the public school system.
Margaret Fortune, CEO of Fortune School of Education, co-hosted the rally with the California Charter School Association and shared her concerns about the current state of education.
"Today we are focused on advocating for charter schools that are focused on closing the African American achievement gap," said Fortune. "We are asking the legislature for more funding and more choice."
Fortune described choice by better aligning policies to work with charter authorizers who are working collaboratively with charter schools that are focused on closing the African American achievement gap. She pointed to 100,000 African American middle-class students in traditional public schools that are lagging behind their white peers in reading in math which advocates say these students are being failed by the system by not being identified in law to receive additional resources through the Local Control Formula Funding (LCFF).
According to the California Department of the Educations web site, LCFF was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, and replaced the previous K–12 finance system. The law established a base, supplemental, and concentration grants in place of multiple funding streams. In California, there are over 1,200 charter schools with a student population over 500,000, and it's estimated that over 47,000 are African American.
While LCFF targets additional resources to students classified as English learners, foster youth, or students that qualify for free and reduced lunch, Fortune says African American students should have been included in the law to help reduce the achievement gap.
"There are over 100,000 Black students that receive no extra funding from the State of California in school funding because they are not acknowledged as high-need students, and that's despite the fact that our public schools are failing them too," said Fortune.
Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley -Thomas, Los Angeles lawmaker, said, " I can think of no better way than to start Black History month than talking about choice, educational access, quality programs, I am talking about duel emersion language emersion, internship opportunities, workforce development and college and careers."
Speakers also address their outrage many advocates had when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Executive Board voted to support a moratorium on charter schools, a policy that originated from California. The NAACP received backlash to their policy position prompting legislative and community leaders to write letters of opposition and resulted in the National Board conducting a listening tour nationwide.
As for Nailah Dubose, an eighth grader at Ephraim Williams College Prep said she was in attendance "to represent all Fortune Schools" and said, "the NAACP needs to keep its hands off our charter schools we are important too."
The State NAACP will be hosting its fourth listening tour in Los Angeles Thursday February 9.