Central Valley Movement Building held its second and last All-Partners Convening for this year, for the purposes for developing education activists goals for the Valley in 2019.
Representatives in the meeting included Fresno Barrio Undios , Fathers and Families of San Joaquin (Stockton), Black Parallel School Board (Sacramento), the Dolores Huerta Foundation (Arvin, Weedpatch, Lamont, Sanger, Palier, and Bakersfield), the Merced Black Parallel School Board, and activists from Lamont, Vineland, Arvin, and Madera.
Unlike the first convening held in April, this meeting focused primarily on planning for next year. Meeting participants grouped together to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, and threats of their organization and education activist work.
All the groups have been building relationships with parents, schools and districts, and board members and superintendents in their respective areas around issues of racial discrimination, student referrals to police, and making recommendations to Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).
Counselors Not Cops
All participants expressed deep concerns about the presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) on campuses. The presence of SROs contribute to a negative, punitive school climate, and they undermine the type of positive reinforcements, such as counselors and other support staff.
CVMB Coordinating member, Carl Pinkston, provided recent 2015-16 data about the number of referrals to police in the Central Valley, including Sacramento.
Central Valley school districts are among the top 5% of districts with the highest rates of school related arrests. In 2015-16, 158 student arrests were made in Sacramento City Unified, 159 in Fresno Unified School District, and in Clovis Unified, 114. Reports also show a rising trend in students in disability being arrested. Central Valley districts represent only 23% of all districts with 1000 or more students, but 33% of the top 30 highest suspending districts for students with disabilities.
The National Association of School Resource Officers “estimates that there are 14,000 to 20,000 SROs nationwide.The Root
SROs are typically paid law enforcement officers assigned to campuses, and extra tax dollars are budgeted for contracts with police departments monitor and give out referrals to students.
But as the Dignity in Schools Campaign California reiterated in last month’s National Week of Action, tax dollars and resources for schools should be used for counselors, not cops.
Members of the convening all agreed that focus must be to redefine school safety, which does not include SROs, but an effective implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), restorative justice programs, cultural sensitivity and classroom management training for teachers and staff, and building a positive school climate.
Central Valley Movement Building will hold a larger convening in April focused on the challenges and strategies for parent organizing, including how to address the issues of cops on campus.