CVMB Is in Solidarity With the National Week of Action

Note: this statement is republished from Dignity in Schools Campaign California, in which Central Valley Movement Building is member of.

As a coalition, the Dignity in Schools Campaign California (DSC CA) is building grassroots leadership, movement, and political solidarity across the state to cast a new vision for public education, in which school safety shifts away from a culture of punishment to one of transformation, restoration, and healing. This vision is rooted in our shared and critical understanding of history, and our collective stand to repair its harm and say “Never Again”. 

Our Never Again 

Our “Never Again” is rooted in the Black-led Reconstruction and slave revolt that brought down chattel slavery and opened up the first public schools. Our “Never Again” abolished Jim Crow education and led the Chicano Blowouts. Organized by students, parents, and their broader communities, our “Never Again” birthed liberatory movements for ethnic studies, critical pedagogy, bilingual education, restorative justice and other transformative educational practices. Today, our “Never Again” rejects the school to prison and deportation pipeline and works to build a movement from the ground up, in California and nationwide.

As local, state and federal officials call to further police and militarize our schools, DSC CA rejects these false solutions and works to build a long-term movement with communities, students, and parents across the state. This movement is committed to ending all forms of violence in our schools, including those associated with policing, criminalization, and institutional racism, as well as those associated with guns.

Removing Cops From Schools

The Central Coast Movement Building (CCMB) team built a coalition of supporters, parents and students in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District focused on School Resource Officers in their schools. Monterey Peninsula Unified School District stretches from the city of Marina to the north to the city of Monterey to the south, and encompasses the communities of Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Sand City, and Seaside. The campus as of the 2017-18 enrolled 10,000 students.  Thanks to the CCMB organizing efforts and intensified work with community to address policing on campus, we forced the school district to reexamine the role of police in schools and successfully stopped Marina and Seaside from hiring police to patrol their campuses. 

Organizing Against Cops On Campus

In Oakland, the Black Organizing Project (BOP) knows that the school-to-prison pipeline is a direct response to the rise of Black Power and a direct attack on young people. In 2011 the Black Organizing Project formed the Bettering Our Schools System (BOSS) Campaign in response to the murder of Raheim Brown by the Oakland School Police Department (OSPD).

The campaign has been working to shift the narrative that police equals safety by calling for the full elimination of school police by 2020 and demanding that schools not contract with law enforcement. While we have been able to see some wins from temporary reforms such as —having a complaint process, eliminating suspensions for willful defiance and reducing the police budget—  we know that it will take a complete transformation of the public education systems culture to ensure schools are sanctuaries for the most impacted youth.

Since 2011 we have continued to be on the ground working with Black parents & students who have been negatively affected by the school to prison pipeline to seek transformative alternatives that will shift the culture in schools to one that is nonpunitive and values the lives of all children.

Building Solidarity

This is the way we build solidarity – aligning efforts across politically diverse regions and contexts to ensure that Black, Brown, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, poor/working class communities of color across the state are included in our movement.  We are collectively aiming toward a “North Star” and working on the ground, community to community, to share our struggle, capacity, political lessons, and strategies to win change in even the most conservative of regions. 

National Week of Action 

Starting October 20th through October 28th, DSC CA allies in the Central Valley, Bay Area, Central Coast, Los Angeles, and Inland Valley regions Starting October 20th through will participate in the 9th annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout. This year’s theme, “Counselors Not Cops,” sends a resounding message to disrupt misplaced priorities and over-reliance on school police as the “only” solution to school safety.  

Our DSC CA events aim to dismantle law enforcement’s relationship with Black, Brown, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, and poor/working-class schools. 

Community-based engagement and forums will be held on racial disparities in education, rethinking school safety, dispelling racial stereotypes and myths about our communities, student and family storytelling about experiences with counselors and police, building “sanctuary schools” grounded in Black & Brown solidarity and resistance to surveillance and forced removals, and monitoring the fidelity with which hard-fought, community policy victories for transforming school climate are being implemented.

This is not a moment.  This is history.  DSC CA is a coalition built for the long arm of struggle and resistance to radically embrace and fight for truly safe, holistic, and healing schools for all. 

California City Parents Develop Strong LCAP Recommendations for Mojave School District

In just over a year, parents in California City have made great progress in organizing and advocating for Black and Brown students in Mojave Unified School District.

Parents formed a group now called the Cal City-Parents Student Association (CCPSA). This year, working closely with the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) in Bakersfield and the Central Valley Movement Building, parents started attending and speaking out at the MUSD Board meetings.

As part of their presentation in a local public Local Control Accountability Plan hearing, DHF and CCPSA made specific recommendations on behalf students of color in the MUSD district.

LCAP Recommendations

In part, the recommendations include:

School Climate
MUSD is currently allocating $842,815 for PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). However, students are constantly being suspended and expelled without any intervention and any parent contact and students are being referred to police. This kind of zero-tolerance policy creates a negative school climate that guarantees an incriminating student record. MUSD must be use these funds to correctly implement PBIS.

Cultural Awareness
Although the student demographics are 65% students of color, there is only $7,000 being on spent on cultural awareness. Parents have been told that there is lack of cultural awareness curriculum; however, there are public documentaries and other resources which can be used for classroom instruction. Students deserve to be taught curriculum that represents their demographics. MUSD must increase these funds as well as implement cultural competency training for staff.

Parent Engagement
In order to increase parent engagement, MUSD must allocate funds for the creation of an African American Parent Committee. This will allow parents to analyze the needs of students and be able to create programs that will lead to student academic achievement.

Student Achievement
Parents would like to see more transparency in the grading system. The parent portal is not being utilized and the district must create a system which is accessible to parents to keep track of their child’s academic progress.

Moving Forward

These and other recommendations have been included in MUSD’s LCAP for the upcoming school year 2018-19.

CCPSA, DHF, and CVMB will continue to push and monitor the implementation of the LCAP recommendations. Parents will continue to attend board meetings and specifically push for the formation of an African American parent committee for the district or in specific schools in California City.

The goal of the parents and supporting organizations is to work with the MUSD to bring about measurable outcomes that include a reduction in the suspension rates, an increase in the graduation rates of students of color by making use of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and restorative justice practices, as well as culture sensitivity training and teaching for teachers and staff.

Members of the Merced Black Parallel School Board, and the California City Parallel School Advocates

Similar goals and actions are taking place with other CVMB partners, including the Black Parallel School Board in Sacramento, the Merced Black Parallel School Board, and Kern Education Justice Collaborative.  These groups also participated in CVMB’s April convening where they received a Know Your Rights Presentation and a detailed presentation about the high suspension rates in the Central Valley.

 

CVMB Partners Taking Action in California City

The following a Letter to the Editor to the Mojave Desert News is in response to an article the newspaper published about CVMB partners (the Ca City Parents Students Association and Dolores Huerta Foundation) speaking at the Mojave Unified School District. Re: MUSD does the LCAP dance” 
 
This response letter reflects the direct actions CVMB and our partners are taking to make demands and changes for African American students in California City public schools.
 
The Mojave Desert to publish our letter to the newspaper, which we’re reposting here.  
 

Letter to the Editor

The recent article about Mojave Unified School District board should have appeared in the Opinion section of your paper rather than the News section. The article erroneously misreports the issues brought up by parents and supporters at the board meeting.
 
According to California law, school districts are required to hold public hearings, in which parents can give recommendations on how to allocate state funds for student achievement.
 
Our parent group, the Cal City-Parents Student Association (CCPSA), not the “District African American Parent Council” as reported, works to monitor and address problems faced by students of color, and particularly African American students, unfairly targeted in MUSD schools.
 
CCPSA is also supported by the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) out of Kern County that helps parents advocate against discriminatory practices in the district, and which led to KHSD settling in a lawsuit in which they must implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to ensure they are not expelling or suspending students on racially implicit biases, just as African American students who are unfairly treated in the MUSD district.
 
DHF also spoke at the meeting to clarify the purpose of Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), which supports English Language Learners, foster youth and low-income students. LCAP funds must be used by the district to increase the services and resources of the aforementioned groups.
 
CCPSA is also concerned about the district turning students over to the police department for non-criminal behavior. These matters should be handled by school administrators, and parents should be called in when their child is involved in a fight, in order to comply with PBIS and responsibly utilize the $1 million MUSD is allocating for PBIS implementation.
 
The CCPSA invites Desert News to interview Black students and parents in the district to get our views and perspectives on these issues.

Update

Cal City-Parents Student Association (CCPSA) and the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF), along with the Central Valley Movement Building will continue to organize and push for changes in California City schools to affect changes.
Members of CPSA (supported by DHF and CVMB) will continue to attend and speak out at the district board meetings concerning the discriminatory policies and actions affecting African American students in the district. CVMB will write another blog post soon about the progress that has been made in California City, but also about what else needs to be done.
Members of CCPSA and DHF also attended the first valley convening of this year back in May in which CVMB presented information about the school-to-prison pipeline, and another presentation about knowing your legal rights regarding school discipline policies.