Ryan Smith Writes an Open Letter to Governor Brown about Closing the Achievement Gap

April 2016

Driven by the moral imperative to make sure all students have to the opportunity to succeed, Ryan Smith wrote an open letter to Governor Jerry Brown that makes a case for continuing to work to reduce the achievement gap. In response to Brown’s remarks that the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is not intended to close achievement gaps and closing them is altogether “pretty hard to do,” Smith argues that evidence exists to show how schools and districts are capable of beating the odds. In fact, these models and their promising practices can be replicated as a means to facilitate equitable access in more schools. Smith notes the dangers of a deterministic perspective about California’s students, especially given that a majority of students in California are students of color or living in poverty. Furthermore, Smith calls for accountability systems and policies like LCFF to accelerate closure of achievement and opportunity gaps, and not simply represent a “trend everyone is talking about, but not all of us are drinking.”