The Los Angeles Daily News is partnering with a coalition of groups, including The Chronicle for Social Change and The Childrens Defense Fund, to present a gubernatorial forum on May 15.

Titled “Building Our Future: A Forum on Children with Californias Gubernatorial Candidates,” the forum will focus on child welfare, juvenile justice, educational equity, health care, poverty and access to technology for young people.

Confirmed participants include former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang, current state treasurer. State Assemblyman Travis Allen and businessman John Cox have both indicated that they will likely participate, according to the organizers.

The event will come just weeks before the June 5 primary, where voters will go to the polls to pick the top two votegetters who will compete to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, who cannot run again because of term limits.

Hopefuls also include Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former state schools chief Delaine Easton.

According to Public Policy Institute of California, 19.9 percent of children in California lived in families that dont have enough resources to make ends meet in 2016. And that includes a disproportionate number of children of color. Such issues serve as context for the forum, which seeks the candidates ideas on the problems that affect the states 9.1 million children.

For the first time in years, candidates will have an opportunity to offer big-picture education solutions that arent tied to a funding crisis. Brown has presided over a series of spending improvements, including boosts to improve student equity and a localized funding formula.

But California continues to score poorly in an annual evaluation of school financing systems, ranking 39th among the states. Student academic performance in reading and math is also below most of the nation, according to the 2017 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, though California did make some gains in reading.

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RELATED STORY: Think K-12 education isnt important to California voters? Think again, according to new poll in governors race

Early indications suggest education will be an important issue in the race. In a statewide survey released this month by the Public Policy Institute of California, Californians & Education, nearly two-thirds — 64 percent — of likely voter respondents said education was “very important” in the race for governor, an increase from 58 percent four years ago when the same question was asked. A full 90 percent said candidates positions on education are important to them.

The forum will be from 6 to 8 p.m. May 15 at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, 400 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. It is open to the public.

Media partners for the non-partisan forum include The Los Angeles Daily News and LA School Report.

To register for the event, go here.

LA School Report contributed to this story.

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