Antonio Villaraigosa Unveils a California ‘Students’ Bill of Rights’

Antonio Villaraigosa Unveils a California ‘Students’ Bill of Rights’

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For Immediate Release
March 15, 2018


Lincoln Heights, CA – Today, former Assembly Speaker and 41st Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa joined with dozens of high school students, parents and teachers to roll out his California Students’ Bill of Rights. The policy is based on the premise that every child deserves a quality education and the right to an educational system where students come first, teachers have better pay and training and that addresses school safety for students and faculty.

“The days of leaking roofs, non-functional bathrooms, lack of books and other basic resources in our public schools must end if we are going to fully and effectively educate our children,” said Antonio Villaraigosa. “California children can succeed, but we must address the pervasive educational inequality if we want our state to continue to be a global leader. It is time for California to adopt a Students’ Bill of Rights to make sure every child has an equal chance to succeed.”

California is the 6th largest economy in the world, but also has the highest effective poverty rate in the country. Unless the state invests more in schools and its students, the lack of education will further perpetuate economic inequity. Instead of driving economic mobility and providing a ladder to success, it will keep more individuals out of the middle class.

The California Students’ Bill of Rights that Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled today includes:

The Right to Demand that Decision-Makers Put Students First.

Every stakeholder in our public schools matters and everyone deserves respect and consideration. But students must always come first. A student-focused lens should be applied to all decisions made in our education system: how is this decision helping our students succeed?

The Right to Economic Equality.

The facts are clear, students who come from families where parents have middle-class jobs do better than students whose parents are struggling economically. Economic equality creates educational equality – because it gives parents more time to engage with their children, puts children under less stress AND when we grow together fairly we grow our tax base, meaning more money for schools.

The Right to Appropriate School Funding.

Proposition 98 is the floor, not the ceiling. We are still far, far behind other states in educational spending. The Proposition 98 spending formulas are being used as a maximum allotment. That was never the intent. Proposition 98 created a minimum of spending, not a maximum.

The Right to Equity Money Being Used in the Classroom, not the Bureaucracy.

New funding rules that require more equality in our schools are only a help if the money is spent on kids, not bureaucracy. We need to invest these new funds in better trained and better compensated teachers and other ways that impact the students who need the most help to succeed.

The Right to Access High-Quality Schools.

Wealthy families can choose to move to high-performing school districts, or pay for private school tuition. Poor families also deserve the right to access high-quality schools and publicly chartered schools often provide that access. High-performing public charters playing by the same set of rules as other public schools are laboratories for innovation and creativity; our low-income families should be empowered to be able to choose the school that makes sense for their children.

The Right to Teachers Who Get More Pay and More Professional Training.

Teachers are not the problem – well-paid and professionally-trained teachers are a solution. We need to invest in more professional training, continuing professional development and tenure reform. Providing opportunities for our teachers to work at least three years under training and supervision and other common-sense reforms will make our teachers better trained and better supported.

The Right to Hold Every One of Us Accountable.

Principals, parents, teachers, elected leaders, the entire community and students are all responsible for success. We can’t point fingers at each other. We need to understand we are ALL responsible for educational equality and student success.

The Right to Support from the Beginning.

The reality is that succeeding in schools is dramatically affected by neo-natal care, childhood nutrition, childhood healthcare and other basic services. Access to quality child care and early education can ensure that every student has a healthy start in life.

The Right to Be Free from the Worry of Being Homeless or Housing Insecure.

Housing is a recognized educational rights issue. We have too many homeless kids in our schools and too many parents who must work two and three jobs to pay for skyrocketing housing costs, meaning they don’t have enough time to support their children. Affordable housing creates opportunities for greater student achievement.

The Right to Nutritional Food.

Nutrition programs must extend beyond the school day and school year. Children who are hungry at night or over the summer can’t keep up.

The Right to Safe Schools and Neighborhoods.

To give our kids a chance to succeed in public school, they need to be secure and safe in school, and coming and going to school. A focus on safety does not need to, and should not, criminalize students. They must be free to think and learn without fear and trauma.

The Right to Advance to College or Career Training.

Graduating from high school is a start – not a finish. We need to make sure our schools lay out a clear path for higher education or other post-secondary career and technical education as a part of our curriculum, requirements and culture.


If you agree that we need a California Students’ Bill of Rights, click here and sign our petition.