Brooks Allen has championed the rights of children for the past nine years, most recently as the ACLU of Southern California’s director of education advocacy. Today, he steps into a new role as deputy policy director and assistant legal counsel to the State Board of Education.
Though we are sad to lose a beloved, respected and trusted colleague, we are incredibly grateful for and proud of everything he has accomplished during his tenure at the ACLU, and we look forward to seeing him advocate for educational equity from within the corridors of power.
At the ACLU, Brooks single-handedly converted the landmark settlement in Williams v. California from just so many words on paper to meaningful changes that improve school conditions for students in California’s public schools. Williams sought to reform statewide education by establishing that the state government has a responsibility to ensure all students in California have qualified teachers, sufficient textbooks and clean, safe learning environments. Thanks to Brooks’s leadership, over 200,000 textbooks have been put into the hands of students who otherwise would not have had them. The number of classes taught by unqualified or inappropriately assigned teachers has plummeted. So far, $338 million (out of $800 million total promised by the state) has been disbursed to schools whose facilities had been in desperate need of emergency repairs. And, ultimately, countless children, previously ignored by the state, now enjoy access to the basic necessities of educational opportunity.
Brooks is a skilled lawyer and a tenacious advocate. His fierce dedication, diplomatic finesse and unparalleled understanding of California’s public education system have won him the respect of the education community, fellow advocacy groups and government officials alike. And with good reason. He protected the Williams requirements throughout unprecedented budget shortfalls and repeated delays by the state to deliver the remaining $462 million promised for repairs needed to address the types of conditions that prompted the Williams lawsuit to be filed. He has been at the forefront fighting for equity and accountability in the state’s new school finance system, the Local Control Funding Formula. Brooks’s effective advocacy has focused on ensuring the promise of improved services to high-need students is fulfilled. Now, in his new role as a state employee, Brooks will have the opportunity to inspire more direct change.
We are truly fortunate to have had Brooks in our corner for as long as we have. He has been a part of the ACLU family for over 14 years — first as an intern, then as a staff attorney and finally as our Director of Education Advocacy. Thank you, Brooks, for your tireless service and treasured friendship. We wish you all the best.
Hector Villagra is executive director at ACLU SoCal