2022 Education Justice Victories that Give Us Hope for 2023
Our grantee partners have been busy this year! Here are some of their victories we’re celebrating as we look to the opportunities ahead in 2023:
Massachusetts passes amendment to sustainably fund schools and transportation
The Fair Share Amendment, a change to the Massachusetts state constitution that will generate about $2 billion in annual support for public education and transportation by taxing the rich, passed in November with 52% support.
Schott grantee partners were pivotal to making this victory happen, including members of the Massachusetts Community Action Network (MCAN), the Massachusetts Voter Table, Mass. Budget and Policy Center, and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance. Organizations knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors and talked with tens of thousands of voters across the commonwealth. Fair Share’s passage wouldn’t have been possible without these tireless efforts.
In addition to winning these new funds, groups like MCAN member United Interfaith Action have been mobilizing communities to have a say in how new Federal school dollars are spent.
Billions for North Carolina schools in landmark court victory
The verdict in the Leandro case is a historic victory, one that orders the state to fulfill its education funding obligations set forth in the state’s constitution. This victory is years in the making, the result of grassroots organizing, policy advocacy and bold legal strategies. Schott grantee partner the Education Justice Alliance is a key part of the statewide coalition that coordinated the effort.
November’s judicial elections in North Carolina have raised the possibility of a reversal, which means grassroots advocates must continue to work to ensure that the funds promised will be delivered to the state’s children.
Billions for community schools and inclusion in California
In September, Governor Newsom signed the California Indian Education Act, which not only encourages school districts to form task forces with local tribes, but also requires districts to identify and devise strategies to close any achievement gaps found between Native American students and their peers. California Native Vote Project was integral to this victory.
Fighting for fair funding and culturally responsive curriculum in New York
Our grantee partners in New York, including the Alliance for Quality Education and the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ), have been organizing parents, youth, and communities in New York City and across the state this year.
In September, after months of pressure by grassroots advocates, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill capping class size in New York City, a major victory. The new law will cap classes at 20 students in kindergarten through third grade, 23 students for grades 4-8, and 25 students for high school classes.
AQE is a member of the Fair Student Funding Working Group, which released its final report last month on the future of the NYC school budget, providing an important first step in ensuring the district’s funding formula is weighted to support the schools and students who need it most. Despite Mayor Adams’ budget cuts to NYC schools, thanks to heavy pressure from AQE and allies the district won’t enact the school cuts this year.
While the Universal Mosaic Curriculum was shelved, CEJ has been leading the fight for culturally responsive, sustaining education on NYC’s Black Studies Commission and Literacy Advisory Council. CEJ’s grassroots organizing continues with its Liberation School series to bring school community members together in creative ways.
Closing the school to prison pipeline across the country
Our partners in Connecticut, including the CT Black & Brown Student Union and Hearing Youth Voices, are celebrating a victory in New London, where the school board announced in November that there would be no contract for a school resource officer and that the money has been reallocated to support wellness and mental health for students.
The Dignity in Schools Campaign held its 13th annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout in October, with events in over 40 cities. DSC has also been working closely with Mississippi organizers in a campaign to end corporal punishment in schools, which is still legal in 19 states.
Family and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) has been fighting to keep children from being transferred to Angola Prison, an adult facility built on former slave quarters that is historically known for horrific violence and abuse. This is part of their larger ongoing campaign to end youth incarceration throughout the state.
In Massachusetts, Citizens for Juvenile Justice has been organizing to keep policymakers from dedicating school resources to police and questionable security measures, while helping develop a statewide memorandum of understanding that limits how school resource officers can intervene in student behavior. In the Massachusetts city of Brockton, Brockton Interfaith Community has helped incubate the Youth School of Liberation, through which students have been speaking out against unfair school discipline in their schools.
Combating efforts to thwart racial and education justice
In the face of well-resourced efforts to discredit and dismantle public education, H.E.A.L Together (Honest Education Action & Leadership) supported youth and parent grassroots community organizers across 19 states and dozens of school districts to defend, support and public schools in their communities. It has made several rounds of grants and supported technical assistance and training to thousands. Learn more about Schott’s Invest Together Fund that supports this initiative.
H.E.A.L. community partners are forced to defend their schools against anti-democratic attacks while also shifting the conversation to the real issues of inequity that are impacting their communities, and waging campaigns to address them such as Education Justice Alliance’s equitable school funding campaign in North Carolina, Migrant Equity Southwest’s work on language access for immigrant parents and transportation for rural parents, and the Twin Cities Innovation Alliance’s work to pass an ethnic studies bill.
Winning civics curriculum in Rhode Island
In June, the Providence Student Union celebrated a court settlement to strengthen civics education in schools — PSU will be on the task force that will build the new curriculum for schools across the state.
Keeping Boston public schools out of receivership
Earlier this year a groundswell of parent, youth and community organizers — including the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance and the Boston Education Justice Alliance — halted an attempt by the state board of education to put Boston Public Schools into receivership, which would have allowed a single governor-appointed official dictatorial control over district decisions. Advocates continue to push for an end to mayoral control and a return to an elected school board accountable to city residents.
Building a community-focused quality of life agenda
The Journey for Justice Alliance convened its member organizations and allies from more than thirty cities to Washington, DC in September to release the Equity or Else coalition’s Quality of Life Agenda, after holding hundreds of in-person and virtual listening projects, town halls and conversations around the country the past 18 months.
The Quality of Life Agenda crosses issue areas to address the holistic needs to communities, from community schools to clean drinking water, housing rights to voting rights.
Thousands of actions like these take place across the country each year, and together they form a vibrant education justice movement — but they need the support of donors like you.
Join the Schott Foundation’s work to support this growing movement by making a donation today.