This week’s answer to our frequently-asked question comes from Jamar Green, a 14-year old young man involved in LCFF advocacy in Los Angeles. Jamar was born and raised in South Los Angeles and is of Belizean heritage. He currently lives with his mom, grandmother, and older sister. We are so grateful to Jamar for sharing his point of view and knowledge with our site.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what led to your being involved in education advocacy?
Growing up in South Los Angeles, there were good times and bad times- but it definitely seems like there were more bad. At a very young age I started walking down the wrong path; I was tagging, fighting, swearing at adults, pretty much anything possible to land me in trouble.
Who or what helped you move away from those behaviors and toward working to better schools?
My years of getting into trouble stopped when my mother connected me to Brotherhood Crusade. They’re a group that does work in my neighborhood and they helped me learn to control my angry outbursts and treat people with respect. My change continued when I joined The Man Project, which gave me more opportunities to show the world my talents.
One of my opportunities came when I was asked to be a part of the Brothers, Sons, Selves coalition. Along with other young men from The Man Project, and Bloom, which are programs under the Brotherhood Crusade youth development model, we helped the Brother, Sons, Selves Coalition (Every Student Matters Campaign) pass the School Climate Bill of Rights in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), in May of 2013. Schools were kicking kids out at an alarming rate and this bill made school climates healthier for students in many ways like ending suspensions for “willful defiance” and using restorative justice to deal with problems.
How did you first hear about the Local Control Funding Formula?
During my work with Brothers Sons Selves Coalition on school climate and school discipline, I learned that a lot of the money given for education was not being spent on the kids who really needed it the most. LCFF can help improve this situation. We are trying to make sure the Local Control Funding Formula makes schools in all districts, especially LAUSD, more equal and changes the way we decide how much money our schools receive.
Why is being involved in LCFF advocacy important to you?
I would say that I really care about this law because it helps the people who need it the most, which are English learners, foster youth, and low-income youth. As someone who falls under one of those three groups and lives in South Los Angeles, I know that the schools in and around my neighborhood need a lot of help. We don’t have the basic things we need for learning, like enough books for all of the students. The LCFF will help change those conditions drastically. One thing LCFF does that I love is it gives students in these three groups an equal playing field with schools that have more than we do. Growing up in South Los Angeles, a lot of times that opportunity is not given. Now that I have the power to help create the changes we need, I’m going to use it. I am glad to be a part of a coalition that sees how important it is to create better conditions for young men and students like myself.
What are some of your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are making sure I continue to advance and help other people get to the point where I am, doing well and getting involved. I'm already carrying out my plans by doing things that make me and my friends around me better. As for education, I plan to get into a great high school so I can go to my dream college, Morehouse College in Atlanta. I plan to continue advocacy work around young men of color and hope to one day sit in a position to make great change in the country and world.