Educate Our State is a grassroots, parent-led organization educating and uniting Californians to advocate for
systemic change that will provide all students with a high-quality public education. Add your voice now!

Help us fix the remaining inequity in school funding

This early video shows why we are here -- and how you can make a difference!

Our Story

Like you, we are parents with busy jobs and busy lives who still find time to help out, pitch in and stand up for what we believe in. In addition to our other responsibilities, we take turns writing press releases, running email campaigns, finding strategic partners, and meeting with  our legislators, allies and supporters.

Educate Our State was founded by seven moms who with kids in the California K-12 public education system. In late 2009, six moms with elementary-age children in San Francisco were frustrated by the budget crisis facing their school.  Recognizing that this problem was faced by schools across the state, the “Sherman Six” were inspired by a teacher to hold a Town Hall. Filling an auditorium with more than 1,000 concerned parents, political groups and non-profit organizations, they listened to and exchanged ideas with a distinguished panel that included State Senators, Assemblymen, the Mayor of San Francisco, San Francisco’s Superintendent of Schools and heads of the local Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco board of education. The Town Hall exposed the urgent need for a larger, statewide effort to harness the power of parents and direct energy at the state-centered sources of the problem. What started as a simple Town Hall turned into a parent movement, connecting localized groups of frustrated parents into one, larger organization with the goal of transforming public education funding at the state level. Parents from across the state joined the movement. In Los Angeles, Teri Levy was spreading the message “Say No to Cuts” with a very successful public education awareness effort using a viral video, "Hot For Teachers" starring Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green, which was seen by over a million people in just a few days.

In Redwood City, Susie Peyton was working with the Redwood City Education Foundation on community education outreach on the state’s education budget. In Sacramento, Catherine Goddard had formed Support California Kids, which had initiated a letter-writing campaign regarding education funding mandates. These three moms joined forces with Crystal Brown, Annie Bauccio Moore, Cece Kaufman, and Linda Shaffer, four of the original “Sherman Six,” to found Educate Our State in August 2010.

It soon became apparent that more funding for education was not the only issue. Other fundamental changes were necessary to transform the K-12 education system into something that really worked for kids. Educate Our State soon formed a comprehensive but simple platform. Initially, we spread the word of our movement through house parties and town hall meetings.

In 2011, we launched the “Let Us Vote” campaign to give voters the opportunity to extend expiring, temporary taxes to support education, generating 60,000 letters to legislators in every district in the state. This was followed by the “Wake Up California” campaign, a one-day event across the state to spread the word about how the cuts at school sites were being driven by the reduction in education funding by the state. “Camp Educate” followed in the fall, where we gathered parent leaders from around the state for training in grassroots engagement and organizing skills.  

In 2012 we sent 15,000 letters and held 58 bubble blowing rallies up and down the state for our "This Budget Blows" campaign to protest the huge cut to education in the proposed budget.  We then launched our "YES YES for Education" campaign encouraging voters to vote YES on both education propositions 30 and 38. We divided into two groups -- Educate Our State, our 'c-4' organization that could get more involved in initiatives, and Educate Our State Leadership Center, to focus on education of issues impacting our system.

In 2013 we began a deep dive into the mechanisms that generate -- and divert -- school funding in California.  We stumbled across the Vehicle License Fee Swap, which was diverting $6 billion a year of education-allocated property tax.  By forcing our schools to pay California’s Vehicle License Fee obligation to cities and counties, the VLF Swap created the need for deferrals.  We crafted an initiative to stop it (that situation still exists and is described on our related site here) -- an uphill battle that we put on hold when the state announced, in early 2014, that it would fully pay districts what they were owed each year.  (By 2018, the Swap had grown to $8.5 billion.)

In 2014, we learned that a School Reserves Cap had been introduced at the last minute into the State Budget, to be enabled by a proposition on the November ballot -- The Rainy Day Fund.  Again, our PAC arm sprang into action -- as official opponents to the Rainy Day Fund’s assault on school financial stability. While we didn’t prevail, the School Reserves Cap was dramatically scaled back by Legislative action (SB 751 [Hill], 2017).

In 2015, we extended our understanding of the underpinnings of state school finance, and were invited to speak to the Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee, among other events. Many of us were back to serving on our middle and high school PTAs, and running for school board.

In 2016 and 2017, we shifted our focus onto local campaigns -- encouraging school-focused candidates to run for county and statewide office.  Many of us were by now serving on school boards.  Our chair, former State Superintendent Delaine Eastin, ran for governor and really drove the conversation around education and focusing on our children. But, in a way, California education was holding its breath. When would we achieve 100% LCFF funding -- and would life be better then?

In 2018, we achieved it.  And realized that we were still languishing.  West-Ed’s description of the Silent Recession captured the issues best.  But something else was going on.  Property taxes allocated to education -- $600 million of them! -- were turned away as “excess” to schools’ needs.  And, while all districts were challenged, those in the wealthiest counties in the state were shuttering schools, closing programs, and cutting staff. This was not sustainable.

In 2019, we connected the dots.  The original LCFF blueprint called for district funding recognizing student disadvantage and regional costs.  By omitting regional costs, LCFF was penalizing students in the poorest districts in the most advantaged counties. While also failing to claim education’s fair share of local property tax. We began the PACT Campaign -- a Parity and Cost Transparency Supplement in the Local Control Funding Formula for areas with the highest regional costs. 

In just ten years, Educate Our State has expanded to 30,000 supporters across the state.



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Showing 9 reactions


commented 2019-03-17 17:00:12 -0700
A bit depressing to see how long and how hard parents have had to fight to improve California schools.
commented 2018-10-23 13:25:21 -0700
Yes to education! We support you all the way, keep it up! https://www.choptable.com
commented 2016-11-19 10:07:03 -0800
Hello! We already donated! God bless you more.
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commented 2016-10-11 15:17:56 -0700
No education, no success. Hope Educateourstate develop to support much for education.
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commented 2016-04-19 08:08:23 -0700
Dena, education funding is currently tied to property tax. There is a big difference in the property tax base between Beverly Hills and, say Watts. We need a system that not only guarantees are schools are the best, but that they are also equal.if school A gets new textbooks and lab equipment, schools B through Z all get the same upgrade.
commented 2014-12-28 21:23:26 -0800
Without having a solid base for the education it’s quiet impossible for a country to make progress. Busy people didn’t allow people to work on something which can help to make secure there future generations. It’s good to see that how you all are keep maintaining the things. http://radiology-technician-salary.net/ is almost eraning $55,000 on average in a year. But when taking a look at the salary chart got stun that there is huge changes in the salary. Still looking for the answer?
commented 2014-10-17 10:34:05 -0700
we need to define rich. real property buyers are not rich, multinational corporations belonging to and making making up the various sectors of the economy are the rich. they are the ones that hire lobbyists who interfere with our representative system. that is what rich is and they do not pay their fair share. there are many more of us and our system is supposed to be fair and have an aspect of “majority rule”, yet in 2010 both GE and Exxon/mobll paid ZERO corporate tax. wake up indeed!
commented 2013-11-30 16:32:37 -0800
Thank you
commented 2013-10-03 13:47:31 -0700
Sounds good, but I’m a bit concerned on what is meant as parent involvement. While this can be good, at times, it has also had negative effects. I’m a firm believer in that we need to adopt the Finnish methods to our school system. Instead of funding through property taxes, which is unfair thanks to Prop 13, and the pitting of rich versus poor. A statewide “education” tax, insuring that all schools benefit equally—i.e. If one school gets new textbooks, all the schools get new text books, etc.

Small class size – Maximum of 20 students, with the exception of science classes, where the maximum is 16. ALL teachers must have a Masters degree and have graduated in the top 10% of their classes. Three teachers per classroom. One teaches, the other two circulate amongst the students and provide one-on-one instruction where needed.

Finally, we pay them a decent wage. In Finland teachers are among the highest paid in the country.
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In 20 years Finland move their K-12 graduates into first, second, and/or third place in the world. Drop out rate in Finland is 2% or less.

And finally, education from pre-school to a doctorate degree is FREE. All schools are public, not private.

If Finland can do it, why can’t we do the same?