On June 4th, 2019, voters in Los Angeles will have the opportunity to more adequately fund public education for over 600,000 students in LA Unified. We at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools encourage Angelenos across the city to seize this opportunity and vote YES on the parcel tax. Measure EE, a 16-cent, per-square-foot progressive parcel tax, would raise approximately $500 million annually for the second largest school district in the nation, making a demonstrable impact for the future of Los Angeles. LA Unified serves over 410,000 low-income students and nearly 18,000 homeless youth. The current budget of approximately $16,000 per student is sorely insufficient to prepare every child to thrive in the college and career of their choice. Thankfully, Measure EE will help Los Angeles build a more equitable education system.
The Partnership was founded with the belief that a city is only as good as its public schools. The public education system across the state does not do enough to support the success of all students, particularly low-income students and students of color. Unfortunately, the students least well-served by our education system are those who live in neighborhoods like Watts, South LA, and Boyle Heights — communities rich in resilience and talent but lacking the necessary resources to support every students’ goals and dreams.
It is undeniable that school funding in California is wholly inadequate. We rank near the bottom in per-pupil spending nationally and fall billions of dollars short of what states like New York and Massachusetts provide. Even worse, unlike many cities in California, Los Angeles does not supplement its limited state funding with any local taxes to support the day-to-day operation of schools. We know that making a more significant investment in schools serving our most underserved communities is necessary to reverse decades of disinvestment. We also understand that this greater investment is virtually impossible unless we, as a city, make a commitment – not just in words, but with our actions – to fully fund public education. Measure EE, which will raise approximately $500 million a year for schools in Los Angeles over the next 12 years, is a good start.
Of course, more funding alone is not enough to get the outcomes we all want for our students. Measure EE funds should be allocated based on need. LA Unified must put into place policies and practices which will specifically target and support schools serving students with the greatest needs. Only when we couple increased resources with the right level of accountability will we help close opportunity and achievement gaps. The good news is the District has begun to do so through the Student Equity Needs Index and the results are encouraging. Also, LA schools now graduate more than 80% of students and have adopted more rigorous standards which will help prepare these graduates for the careers of the future.
Measure EE is a positive step in the right direction. The initiative will increase the pot of money available for the targeted interventions that are still needed in under-resourced communities while also growing the baseline investment for all schools. Furthermore, funds raised by Measure EE will be governed by an independent oversight committee which will include representatives of the communities most impacted by our city’s history of disinvestment in high-need schools. Further, Measure EE will do this without unfairly singling out low-income communities to bear the burden.
At the Partnership, we are working alongside educators, parents and partners with the belief that all traditional public schools can thrive if given the right support. We think this is a good investment, and encourage a yes vote on Measure EE.
About the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
Launched in 2007, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools’ mission is to transform schools and revolutionize school systems to empower all students with a high-quality education. As an independent nonprofit organization, the Partnership serves 14,000 students across 18 LA Unified schools in Watts, Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles. As a non-charter, in-district partner, the Partnership works within the Los Angeles Unified School District context, which includes honoring all collective bargaining agreements for its teachers and school staff.