In 2013 the State of California changed how it funded education in two important ways. First, it changed the formula for funding schools so that districts would be funded based on need in addition to the number of students enrolled. Need was defined as the percent of students in the district who are English Language Learners, low-income, or foster child/youth. With this change, districts now receive additional dollars based on the percentage students enrolled who fit into one of these categories. The second important change was the State’s requirement that school districts engage community members in setting the goals for the district.
Just as these changes were being implemented, the Global ARC, working with its partners in the City Heights Community, helped form the Parent~Student~Resident Organization (PSRO) that organizes families with children attending public schools on the eastside of City Heights to be engaged in shaping district plans and policies. By the beginning of 2016, the PSRO had built a large base in the community and held the 1 st Annual Community Dialogue on Education that drew over 140 people on a Saturday morning in March. The following year, the outreach effort expanded to engage families on the westside of City Heights, holding its 2 nd Annual Community Dialogue on Education in February of 2018.
Since its beginning, these organizing efforts have:
- Increased the languages the district provides interpretation for (i.e., Karen, Kisagua. Somali and Swahili)
- Gotten the district to provide halal meals to Muslim students
- Increased support for New Arrival (immigrant/refugee) Students
- Form a task group that includes parents, alumni and students to study best practices for working with refugees and make recommendations to the School Board
- Increased support to City Heights students aimed at closing achievement gap
- Significantly reduced suspension rates
- Increased graduation rates
- Gotten the district to allow non-English speaking students to use their native language to meet A-G requirements for a language other than English
The Global ARC's Role
The Global ARC plays two important roles in these organizing efforts. First, it serves the role of convener by bringing community partners together and facilitating their visioning and strategic planning. Secondly, the Global ARC provides training and technical assistance to the partners with a specific focus on district policies and student outcomes.