BRENDA RINCON and AURORA SALDIVAR/Coachella Uninc
COACHELLA – Parents made their voices heard at a forum here earlier this week organized by The California Endowment (TCE) as part of its School Success Express Tour, meant to provide an opportunity for parents around the state to have a say in how their school districts uses state education funds.
California enacted a new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) this year that will result in more money for the neediest school districts, including Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD). As the name implies, LCFF also gives the school districts themselves more say than in past years on how their state dollars get spent.
The forum in Coachella, like others being organized by TCE across the state, was an effort to make sure district officials take parent recommendations into account.
“We know that parental involvement is very important and impacts the success of students. We need to think about using a portion of these funds to get more parents involved,” said Jorge Ortiz, father of three students, to the approximately 150 community members present at Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church.
Ortiz added there must be increased transparency from the school district and better communication between schools and parents.
Regina Hernandez, mother of three students, believes more funding for language arts in elementary school is needed. “This is why our children don’t succeed,” she said.
Like Ortiz, Hernandez urged other parents to get more involved in their children’s education.
“Speak. We need to raise our voice. If we want good futures for our children, we want good lives, we must do what we have to do,” she said. “Do not remain quiet. We have the future of our children in our hands.”
Lydia Torres Rodriguez, another parent, said that the funds should go to updating textbooks in local schools, many of which she said are over 10 years old.
“We [also] need more teacher training, state-of-the art technology, and a focus on common core standards,” said the parent of four, referring to the new federal guidelines for measuring school performance.
Some students were also in attendance. They expressed a desire for additional student support, including more resources for undocumented students and English learners, more Advanced Placement classes, and increased school library hours.
Education is a way out of poverty for many students in this agricultural region.
“My mother works in the fields, and she doesn’t want me to end up like that… she wants me to take advantage of the opportunity being given to me to get an education,” said Itcelia Segoviano. “My mother has done so much for me, and I hope that one day she no longer has to work and that I can provide her with everything she needs.”