June 11, 2015
By Guillermo Mayer
School may be out for summer recess, but our offices are bustling with activity as our legal staff moves full steam ahead with our community partners to win affordable housing and climate investments, and defend school funds aimed at providing critical services for low-income students. Let’s start with education.
The great news is that California’s revenues are up, and education reform efforts will see an influx of badly needed new money. As I write, school districts are holding meetings throughout the state to present and review their plans (LCAPs) under California’s new school financing system known as the Local Control Funding Formula. These plans are supposed to spell out, in detail, how schools will use hundreds of millions of education dollars to serve high-need students. Our education attorneys are providing student and parent groups across the state with just thetools they need to participate and win their priorities.
Together, we are studying the plans and preparing to speak at public hearings where they will press education officials to meet the promise of the LCFF—from Oakland to Antioch to Alum Rock in Santa Clara. This week, Public Advocates and the ACLU sent a letter to more than a thousand school superintendents and other education officials advising them of their legal obligations in creating and updating their Local Control Accountability Plans. Under the law, school districts have to submit their plans to county education officials by July 1st.
Meanwhile, our housing attorneys have literally burned the midnight oil at Oakland City Council meetings where officials, community partners and developers are debating a luxury housing development for a site owned by the city. Public Advocates has provided ongoing legal support to grassroots neighborhood groups and residents of Oakland, including Eastlake United for Justice, in their efforts to win affordable housing on the E. 12th site, located along the shores of Lake Merritt. The Oakland Tribune published our OpEd on the issue the day the city council considered and ultimately tabled the initial proposal. The revised housing development proposal under negotiation now is scheduled for a vote at next week’s city council meeting.
Finally, with billions of dollars in climate investments at stake, our advocates in Sacramento are focused on making sure that highly-polluted and economically distressed neighborhoods receive a fair share of funding to promote the clean air, sustainable energy, affordable transit and equitable development.
With so much at stake this summer, we are grateful for the talented people who make this work possible, including our fantastic summer interns, and our many supporters who keep us going strong.