Advocates call on state lawmakers to fund school parity plan
Advocates are calling on state lawmakers to fully fund the 'Leandro' plan for public schools.
no one introduced Denise Ramirez from ISla and see, hi, my name is Janice Ramirez and I'm the executive director of S. L. A. N. C. A board member on action for equity and educator and a mother to a four year old little girl. I'm here today to tell you why are lawmakers need to fully fund Leandro? This goes beyond politics. This is about meeting a constitutional obligation, a sacred oath. Whether or not we should prioritize our Children's education should not be up for debate. Each student in our state, each family in north Carolina represents potential and talent and in a unique contribution to our society. Our state has singled by refusing to act on leandro for almost three decades now that they do not think every child is valuable enough to invest in and we have every child then see the coalition I helped lead are here to tell them that we disagree. We know Children are most valuable resource and it's time we prioritize each of them. For me, this is personal. In 1997 my parents enrolled me in the fourth grade at Cumberland County public schools. I was placed in sl just because of my last name and home language and not because of my educational needs. It was around the same time that Leandro case first began and so many of these inequities I experienced and countless others have still not changed. Our families are still faced with challenges when navigating the school system and many of the barriers they encounter are consequences of poorly funded schools, inadequate accountability and are a direct reflection of lawmakers not making education a priority across the state nonprofits. Churches community groups are trying their best to meet the needs of students and families because our public schools do not have the funding and resources necessary to serve every child. I work with families daily to provide them with tools to effectively support and advocate for. Their Children. Are families are trying their best and they are working as hard as they can and making sacrifices so their Children can have better opportunities. Our students need our schools to be funded for E. S. L. Services, hire bilingual staff and trained interpreters. We need to avoid over representation and avoid underrepresentation of latino students receiving special education services. We need to fund required cultural competency training for all school staff and administrators. North Carolina is a state with a growing english learner student population. However we're also a state that puts a cap on the amount of funding schools can get for these students. That means that most that some districts, regardless of student needs, do not receive the adequate funding to provide english learner students with appropriate resources. And in fact some districts will receive no funding at all for their english learning students and we'll have to draw from other funding sources and that's unacceptable. S. A. N. C. Team has taken the lead in encouraging all of the boards of education in the school districts serving our ESL families to pass local resolutions in support of Leandro and to communicate the need for our general assembly to commit full funding for the Leandro plan. So far our efforts are working and along with school board leaders in Durham Orange Chapel Hill, Carrboro City Schools, Warren Wake and Alamance, Burlington Schools. We stand ready to keep the pressure on until lawmakers do their job in a reminder that the Leandro Plan is a comprehensive framework to close opportunity gaps and to improve educational outcomes for all Children from our early childhood learners to RK through 12 students. Its components cannot be separated. It is not a menu of options it lays out the road map, N. C. Must follow to ensure every child has their needs met. It also represents the bare minimum of what our state school, our state school is doing for our Children funding. Leandro should not be aspirational, it should be a first step taken. Leandro represents that necessary step forward. The plan outlines policy change and investments that community I serve desperately needs for me. Leading with Leandro is about our state becoming a place that is welcoming and that honors the unique contribution of every single community in a place that I want to raise my child. My message to every state lawmaker, every advocate, every parent, every community member in north Carolina is that we need lawmakers to do your part in supporting and prioritizing school funding. This is the single most important investment for our future. We make and it's time we lead with Leandro giants sample atlantic only Andrew. Thank you Denise. Now I want to introduce reverend paul ford from action for Equity morning to everyone. The christian scriptures made clear as far as I'm concerned that equity is a divine imperative. It is simply something that we have to do because it is what is right. And if you look at the history of this case of Leandro, you know that this has been a long time coming. So no one should be surprised or acting as if this issue is brand new. I also believe that our scriptures made clear that we need a biblical flood of resources in order to make things right for all of our Children, so many of whom have been robbed of this basic sound education for so long, you've got to have the resources there in order to make the impact that needs to be made. This is the opportunity that we have to do it. Politics need to be set aside because we understand at the end of the day that budgets are moral documents. We have always on every level, from the federal level to the state level to local county and city levels. Found money for the things that we think are important and if educating our Children all across this state is not important, then shame on us and what the representatives have told me, we've got all kinds of federal money coming into the state coffers. We've got billions of dollars, uh, sitting in state reserves. So for those who will balk at the cost of fulfilling the dictate of leandro. I ask you where your priorities lie because the promise of public education is that every child born into this community as the right and has the opportunity to receive what they need to be successful in life. And that's just about doing what is right. So the time is now, the only reason the judge has had to get involved is because you haven't been doing what's right for the last 30 years. So don't get mad at the judge. Don't tell the judge that he needs to run for state legislature and run for the General Assembly, understand that at best we have these checks and balances in place to make sure that we do right by all of the people in our community and there is no one that is more important to do right by than our Children. So this is the moment. This is the opportunity. We cannot fail. And if we do fail, there is no one to blame but ourselves find the money fulfill the dictates of the north Carolina constitution and take care of our Children. All right, thank you so much reverend. Um, I just wanted to acknowledge a couple of my colleagues that are here with us this morning. Representative Cynthia Ball and Representative linda cooper Suggs, who have been strong supporters of of leander and public education and just I wanted to say thank you to all the other advocates and supporters that are here with us this morning, um, in support of Leandro. So we'll go ahead and take some questions if you have any mail. Yeah. Yes. This maybe from your dreams. I know we all have said with the budget this time around unlike two years ago, there's no one single. It's also going to for a budget this time. But if police can you go forward for me, it would be very difficult. Um, honestly, because this, as everyone has said here today, this is our opportunity. We have the funding, we have the money, we have the will from the community, from the state. This is a opinion that is very popular across our state. Public education is valued by voters and by constituents and by citizens in north Carolina. And for me personally, it would be difficult, but I'll let leader Reeves do you want to comment on that? Yes, thanks for the question. I would just say that again and I hate to repeat it. It can't be one single issue that stops this budget. And I think that to be clear about what I've stated is that there would not be one single issue that stops the governor and the Republican legislative leadership from coming to an agreement on the budget. You know, I know there will definitely be differences on boats and how people take those things. But I do believe that with the needs that we have all throughout the spectrum, I would expect that if I talked to every advocate up here, they will tell you there are other needs that we have also for those same Children. If they're going to get educated, that need to be healthy, they're going to be healthy and educated, they need to have parents that have good jobs that need to have opportunities. So there are a ton of things that we've got to do and if those other aspects to fulfill, I don't believe that any of us can say for sure that hey, if we don't have this one thing that we can't vote for the budget. So that would be my answer any other question from talking to super warm yesterday. It doesn't sound like they're close on this point is not natural. He's think that leaves us come on the job. He's not leader. Is this memoir part of that? Well, I think that the judge and I definitely would not speak for a judge and a practicing attorney. And so for all my judges out there, I would never speak for a judge. But what I would say is this is that that that is a line that has been set based on certain presuppositions because of course a lot of us expected it would be a budget by now. And I think the judge thought, I would imagine that the judge thought at the time, setting that date, that that would be coming at the end of a budget. That would give a clear and concise picture of what was going on. So I would expect since it's in a situation where you've got somebody who is being willful about not presenting the budget document, that there are probably a continuous something that sort I don't know that. But I think there's a big difference between we've still got to come up with the document and we've been making efforts and we ignored your order. And I don't think anybody believes that has just been ignored at this point, yep, many states that you look at and say, all right, they're doing it right. They've got enough money, they put into it, they're getting good outcomes. What what models are there. I mean, I think that the West End report, I mean shows, you know, and I think they looked at other states and what other states do um to fully fund their education systems. I don't know if there's any one state whose he's doing it perfectly, but here we have a very good roadmap based on an outside group that came in. You know, they were non partisan, non biased. They came in and evaluated, you know, all the deficiencies in our system and said, these are the things that you need to do and, you know, I I trust that they looked at what other states were doing and said, you know, that's been successful here and so we need to do it here in north Carolina and I understand that, but I mean, is there not one state or maybe even one country if leandro is the floor, has anyone gotten gotten above the floor? I can't really answer that specifically. Yeah, anybody, I'm gonna let one that advocates talk about six state, but I mean, Travis, what my answer would be that and again, robert reed chattman, Durham County, my answer to that would be north Carolina at one point time was getting it right. Um, so I think we should use ourselves as a road map and I will tell you my personal story and I think I'm about to be the oldest right in the barn up here. But with that being, I know that personally, the only reason I'm standing here today is because at one point we were doing this right, because we were funding kids like me who came up from working class backgrounds and had the opportunity to walk to great schools to have teachers that were invested in us to have principals and teachers that weren't focusing on, you know, how much they were making about the lack of training, the lack of support, the fact that they were having to do several jobs. When I was in school, we had nurses. You know, we had councillors, we had people who were specific at specific jobs that they had to take care of Children. So it's not one of those situations where I think North Line has always gotten it wrong, North Carolina was getting it right at one point in time. Things change. Sometime over the last 30 years. We could have a extended dialogue about what has happened about what our theories are. But I think that most of what you look at when you're looking at states that do this correctly is a government that looks at all of its people, all of the residents of that state and says I should be investing in all of these residents and a state that understands you're going to invest in your people one way or another, I'm gonna invest in Travis fame one way or another, I'm either going to invest with them, invest in them early or I'm going to invest in late. I can do preventative care or I can do care after the illness has taken over. And so you know that that to me is what we ought to look at is what we do right? We've got our teepee, we've got U. N. C. State do wait for us in all these places as part of our triangle because we did it correctly because we have people like Terry Sanford Jim Hunt and I don't say that as a partisan thing I'm saying in the sense of if it lasts, if it's been the last 30 years is something that's happened on both watches. But what I am saying clearly is looked to see what we were doing then and know that those investments paid off because what they invested in then made it possible for us to be here today and to have the amount of growth and wealth that we've had in north Carolina for all these past years. Sometimes because of because of the internet uh, way of thinking, we think that everything happened because of what happened 30 days ago, Everything that we've got going on today, getting apple, getting Google, getting all of these life science, bio tech companies, all of that happened because of what we did 30 years ago. So that's what I would use this road map. Yeah, this question can be happy. Even those lawmakers will, Yes. Um, you've had republicans point to the statements have been made by judge manning the former judge in the case. Money isn't for money, answer to solving the end. How would you respond? That's mm member but one of them, it's absolutely right to say that more money by itself is not necessarily the answer. The question is, how are you spending that money? The question is how are you directing that money? Because when we talk about equity, Equity is not just about spending the same amount of money across the board, it's about radically re aggregating those resources in order to make things right that you are reaching the communities and the Children and the schools that are low performing by the various state standards with the type of whole school, whole child type of programming, with the type of uh educational resources that are going to help to lift and equate those boats with those who are already doing well. But if you don't have the part of resources to begin with, you don't have anything to aggregate right, You don't have what you need to make up the difference in order to get everybody moving forward the way they should be regardless of background or where they've grown up. Yeah. Mhm, mhm. Right. Any other questions? Yeah. You know, right. And playing right standoff right now, No, thanks. Mm. Let him know there's been eight years or longer there elsewhere. I'm wondering okay else that you work on to maybe make this plan? Like I'm just wondering like as you're waiting, what else? I'm not sure exactly understand the question, but I mean, I would say we've waited long enough, we've waited 30 years or so, you know, for this to be implemented. And the time for waiting is over. I mean, I think that the legislature, you know, has tried various things, you know, over the last few, you know, 10 years or so to to improve the state of different parts of education. But as of, we've all said, and we've said continually, this is not a menu of options. If we really want to make significant changes, transformational changes, this is the planet's comprehensive, it has to be implemented in full um, to really make the significant changes that we need. So I I would kind of reject the notion that we, you know, just kind of eat around the edges, so to speak, and we need to take a full bite and and move forward. Good, Yeah. James got I also believe it's really important for us to talk to the people and let them know that the lawmakers are those that we put in office and this impacts everybody. So if your child is in the education system, this impacts your child and you should be paying attention. Which means if your lawmakers are making the right decisions, then they need to go right. Any other questions. Thank you so much. And thanks everyone for coming. And did you want to say anything about outside or Sure every child and see communities for the education of every child? The the community like coalition that's organizing around full Sure will also be sharing additional comments. We'll hear more from our featured speakers, will share some remarks in spanish or spanish language press and that's going breathe out. Thanks sir, thank you so much for coming. I appreciate it.