In 2015, Sir Mark Leno from the village of San Francisco introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
By now, the full resources of CA3 were focused on the issue, but that still amounted to very little in comparison to the magnitude of the quest. The Partnership for Children and Youth, a longtime member of CA3 led by Lady Jennifer of Peck, was called upon to lead the campaign and she assigned her most renowned policy warrior to the task, Jessica Gunderson the Tenacious. The group was heartened by this choice and set about organizing their efforts for the 2015 legislative session. The Honorable Senator Loni Hancock from the village of Berkeley led the efforts in the Legislature to shed light upon our quest and rally support for augmenting our ASES allotment.
We gained many friends who sympathized with our predicament, including Assembly member Kevin McCarty the Valiant, who took up our cause and helped to bring forth a recommendation to increase the ASES appropriation by $25 million. But when it reached the ear of the Governor, he brushed it aside. For he would never entertain any policy that conflicted with his most beloved educational edict, the immaculate Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which prescribed the apportionment for every school district in California and left it up to the local tribunals to sort out. Stay with me, children, I realize I’m getting a little technical here, but it sets up the ending, so pay attention.
“Trouble me no longer with your education earmarks,” he admonished. “I gave you LCFF. That is your solution.”
But LCFF was not the answer. How, oh how, would we ever be able to make him see that? The heroes despaired. But soon it was time to begin the 2016 legislative session and this time mighty Jessica, along with her trusty companion, Jen Dietrich the Industrious, created the amazing SaveAfterSchool.com website which helped to mobilize far-flung expanded learning heroes and their supporters. The famous Sheriff Jim Cooper took up the reins of the legislative campaign and led a new charge upon the citadel. But once again, the impassive Governor and his pitiless ministers in the Department of Finance repeated his directive, “Let them eat LCFF.”
At this point, children, many of the CA3 heroes, including your humble storyteller, were ready to quit.
But when our courage failed, and our confidence was at its lowest ebb, a ray of light appeared. A young knight named Phillip Vanderklay (who really sounds like he belongs in this story), sent a message from the Honorable Senator Connie Leyva, from the village of Chino, who volunteered to serve as our champion for the 2017 legislative session. Senator Leyva was among the most respected and influential members of the Legislature and the spirits of our CA3 heroes were lifted.
The SaveAfterSchool.com website sent out a rally cry to every town and hamlet and the expanded learning heroes responded in greater numbers than ever before.
Over 340 agencies pledged their support for an increase in ASES treasure, more than 2,400 individual heroes joined our advocacy army, and 10,000 post cards, written by children just like you, my dear ones, were delivered to Governor Jerry the Brown, asking him to reconsider his previous decision.
With the blessing of Friar Michael of Funk, the emissary of California’s Arch Duke of Education Tom, son of Torlak, a vast army of heroes stormed the citadel on May 16, 2017, led by Ruth Obel-Jorgensen the Great and her CalSAC compatriots. Every Lord of the Legislature received talking points crafted by our crime fighting policy wizard Brian Lee, and when the Illustrious Budget Conference Committee met to discuss our issue, they recited our message as if they were reading from a script. The CA3 heroes were encouraged like never before and yet they dared not predict victory.
For several agonizing days, we waited for the Committee, Chaired by Senator Holly Mitchell the Brave and Assembly member Phil Ting the Indomitable, to render their recommendation. Finally, on June 15, 2017, word came down to the people that a deal had been struck – ASES would receive another $50 million in treasure in order to increase wages for our heroes on the front lines of programming. But the celebration was muted, for one last hurdle remained. Governor Jerry the Brown would have to approve the recommendation, something your humble storyteller would have thought impossible only months before. Yet despite all misgivings and trepidations, on June 27 he did just that!
And here, children is the moral of our story. Never underestimate the power of incremental change. Even when we fail to reach our goal, we learn from the attempt and are better prepared to succeed in the future.
But while we have earned our moment of revelry, we cannot consider the quest fulfilled. We must remain steadfast in our focus and our unity to complete our mission. By 2022, we will need to increase this new treasure four-fold in order to live happily ever after. But finally, after three years, we’re off to a good start.
For breakfast today, I had black coffee and a bowl of porridge, again.
Author Profile: @steveamick
Note from BOOST: This kind of advocacy is a leading example of how you can create change in your state! We are thrilled to post this two part blog written by passionate Breakfast Club Blogger @steveamick. If you missed last Friday’s blog, check it out here.