by Allison Delgado
A bill’s primary goal, following its transition through the viscous legislative branch, is to emerge as a law. These sets of established motions guide our movement through the world - from our seatbelts clicking as we snap them into place to our ability to access education.
Within Youth & Government, student legislators arrive at the culmination of months of careful preparation to propose these bills. Members maintain their respective motivations for such pursuits, but to truly dig beneath the surface to excavate their internal and external sources of inspiration, it is critical to hear from these students themselves.
One pair of speakers, Michelle Cruzat and David Calderon, discussed the impact of eliminating district income funding for NC public schools in their bill, and the factors that influenced their bill’s development.
After being asked how their past experiences inform the presentation of their bill, David referred to the diversity in financial backgrounds present within his local schools: “We notice the difference between those higher income schools…and definitely the lower income schools. That was probably the biggest inspiration in trying to write the bill.”
As described by the two bill authors, their bill states a shift in the method of allocating state funds to North Carolina public schools. Their proposed elimination of district income funding, if passed, would ideally create an improved learning environment for students through fostering greater education access, quality of their education, and the surrounding environmental conditions that affect their ability to safely attend school.
Shifting from our current system, where the distribution of public education funding is dependent on both needs-based and district-income systems, would create this environment by allowing for an equitable allotment of resources,
Unfortunately, as referred to by these branch members, district income systems can present a challenge in accomplishing this goal: “District income… is [where] a certain percentage of the income for a certain school is based on the local sales tax. And that sales tax - or that percentage of that sales tax - goes to those schools. And, obviously, higher income schools are going to put in more tax [while] lower income schools are going to get less tax money,” says David.
However, Michelle and David maintain a positive outlook for a system where students receive funding and support based on their respective needs. For Michelle, the importance of a needs-based system lies in providing students with opportunities for learning and growth regardless of factors outside their control, like the average income in their district.
“Children are the future. We need to provide quality education to whoever needs it no matter where they come from economically,” spoke Michelle.
If their bill were to be officially passed in a courtroom, David describes similar aspirations. He can imagine how his and Michelle’s proposition would beneficially impact the people in his community.
“It would definitely create peace of mind to know that people who are growing in that public education system are able to have better opportunities than they had before. And I think that that’s a huge factor in their possible future.”
Bills, powered by people and their narratives, are an integral component of our government and everyday life. In Youth and Government, members develop bills, such as this one, that center on education reform, justice and safety, health and human services, and more, where their voices can have a platform to inspire positive, fruitful change.
by Allison Delgado