Justice in education

The idea is to level the playing field for disadvantaged students

“Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.” Those were the words of Governor Jerry Brown, in defining his vision to make education the priority for his government.

The governor, in his annual State of the State address, was optimistic about the significant achievements California has made in the battle to tackle the budget deficit. He also mentioned his priorities on health care, employment and transportation, among others. But on none of these subjects was he as clear as on education.

Brown’s proposal, as presented during his speech, is a matter of educational justice.

On the one hand, it means legislatively approving a new formula for local control of school funding so that school districts will receive funds according to the needs of their students. This recognizes that teaching children who are from low-income families and need to learn English requires more resources than teaching English-speaking students from middle-class homes. It is a basic investment in the future of California.

To implement this change, Brown called for using the Principle of Subsidiarity. In this case, subsidiarity means that the authority that is closest to the students—the local authority—is the one that holds the power to act, so the state government is only responsible for actions that cannot be accomplished at a more local level.

The change Brown is proposing places a major emphasis on K-12 education as the path to obtaining opportunities, as a way to level the playing field that allows disadvantaged students to be able to get ahead through learning.

We hope this project advances without being corrupted by special interests and the oversight to ensure that additional funds are really used on the students to whom they will be allocated.