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Black Educators Discuss Education Equity Ahead of School Re-Opening This Fall

The three-day conference was divided into a total of six morning and afternoon plenary lectures and attendees had access to their choice of 55 seminars and workshops that supported the conference goals. 

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The California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA) held their 13th annual professional development summit May 26 – 28th in San Diego. The theme for this year’s conference was, “Achieving an Equity Driven Education.” 

Co-hosted by the San Diego County Office of Education and Moreno Valley Unified School District, the conference was held in-person and virtually. For their safety, in-person participants were required to have been vaccinated or to have tested negative for COVID-19.  

According to Dr. Daryl Camp, CAAASA president and superintendent of the San Lorenzo Unified School District, “CAAASA was one of the last organizations to host an in-person conference in 2020 and will be the first organization to host an in-person conference in 2021.”

CAAASA welcomed about 150 in-person attendees. About 600 other participants joined the conference online. Those attending were education practitioners, including school administrators, teachers, and staff; education researchers; policymakers; and community members inspired and motivated to learn ways to improve the educational experiences and outcomes for African American and other students of color by promoting equity and social justice and improved school climates. 

The conference theme, “Achieving an Equity Driven Education” acknowledges the need, “to ensure the next normal will achieve an equity driven education for students,” says Camp. “While the pandemic has presented many challenges, it has also provided an opportunity to re-envision what an equity-driven education may look like for underserved students.” 

The conference was organized around seven goals: 

  • Align strategies that promote access to excellence for boys and girls of color; 
  • Utilize Social Emotional Learning (SEL) supports to address the impact of trauma and poverty on learning and academic achievement; 
  • Use assessment data (Single Plan for Student Achievement – SPSAs) and Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) as strategic and equity-driven tools to positively impact academic achievement; 
  • Increase meaningful family engagement and identify strategies and resources to improve graduation rates and increase college readiness and access for students of color; 
  • Provide strategies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of youth in school and the community, including issues such as violence, social justice concerns, bullying and human trafficking; 
  • Address school climate, including student discipline, suspension, expulsion, truancy and chronic absenteeism;
  • Increase awareness about the advantages and values of early childhood education.

The three-day conference was divided into a total of six morning and afternoon plenary lectures and attendees had access to their choice of 55 seminars and workshops that supported the conference goals. 

The opening plenary was titled “National Health & Educational Concerns Due to the Impact of COVID-19.”  The speakers were Dr. Robert Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment; Dr. Theopia Jackson, president of the  Association of Black Psychologists; and Dr. Nana Efua B. Afoh-Manin, founder of myCovidMD. They spoke about depression, anxiety, stress, isolation and the increasing number of Black students contemplating and committing suicide due to impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, among other factors.

The afternoon plenary was “Black Girls Institute: Challenges & Crises Faced by Black Girls in Public Schools & Society.” It addressed issues related to how girls of color are bearing the brunt of policies and practices that diminish their opportunities and harm their potential. The panel was moderated by Dr. Sonjhia Lowery, Superintendent, Old Adobe Union School District.

On day two, the morning plenary was “Addressing Education and Economic Empowerment for African Americans and Other Communities of Color.” Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13); Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League; and Dr. Michael Drake, president of the University of California spoke about the financial wealth gap and the resultant challenges to education and life in the African American and other communities of color. 

The afternoon of day two plenary was the “Research Institute Panel Discussion: Achieving An Equity-Driven Education – Post COVID.” This is CAAASA’s annual research institute panel that provided views on what an equity-driven education looks like once the COVID pandemic ends. 

On day three, the morning plenary session was titled “Shared Educational Inequities, Discrimination, Disparities and Commonalities for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color).” This panel featured members of the BIPOC community, and it addressed common disparities that each community has faced within the educational system. Topics discussed included inequity and discrimination within the school systems.

The closing plenary was called “Ensuring, Increasing and Providing Digital Equity in Schools, Homes and Communities.” This panel discussed ways to enhance capabilities to close the divide and ensure that African American and other students of color are able to stay connected and up to date. The Digital Divide was brought to the spotlight due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CAAASA was founded in 1993 and is committed to identifying and addressing the critical issues in education through public policy relative to the status and performance of African-American students in California.

A complete description of the conference workshops and list of presenters can be found at https://www.caaasa.org/

Bay Area

Pastors of Oakland, Oakland Police Expanding Community Chaplaincy Program

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.

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Pastor Phyllis Scott is president of Pastors of Oakland. Photo courtesy of Phyllis Scott. By Post Staff

In preparation for building up the Community Chaplaincy Program with the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the Pastors of Oakland (POC) is looking for potential chaplains to serve  citizens in the worst of times.

According to Phyllis Scott, pastor of Tree of Life Empowerment Ministries and current president of Pastors of Oakland, OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong is looking for at least 30 men and women to accompany officers to help victims of crime and their families who are in crisis.

The crises can range from homicide to sexual assault, to domestic violence, to car accidents and more.

Community Chaplains must have the ability to serve believers and non-believers alike and “must advocate for healing regardless of faith,” Scott said.

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.

Not all Community Chaplains must have a religious affiliation. Professionals like teachers, caregivers and healers who have several years working in community may also serve.

Though Scott feels that some cultural values can be taught in the training, it’s not so easy to teach a language, and so bilingual chaplains will also be in demand.

“We are looking for people who have heart for Oakland,” she said.

Lt. Aaron Smith, who is assisting Chief Armstrong in expanding the program, agrees. Currently, there are 15-25 chaplains on call but “not all are willing to go where emotions are running high,” he said.

Once the details are hammered out, dates will be set for training, Scott said, who was herself certified to do this work in 2009. The training, six weekly sessions, will include instruction by specialists familiar with the emotional states of people who are in shock because of a homicide, domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking “without interfering with law enforcement,” Scott said.

Typical needs are help with planning a vigil, getting the body of a victim out of the morgue, finding a church or a place to hold a funeral that isn’t too expensive. Once those issues are dealt with, the family can freely grieve, and then they can begin to heal.

Scott cited an instance where a boy was shot to death, and the family and community, fearing reprisal, were essentially afraid to grieve openly. That’s where the chaplaincy came in, joining forces with OPD so the young man was funeralized safely, Scott said.

OPD and Pastors of Oakland want chaplains who are located in all parts of the city, roughly East Oakland, West Oakland and North Oakland. Once contacted by OPD, a ‘beat’ captain will call on the chaplain or chaplains in that area who have agreed to be available day or night.

Besides the city streets, Scott would like to see Community Chaplains at Highland Hospital, which is where many trauma victims are treated and where further violence against victims can be perpetrated as when gang members try to kill someone who survived an attack.

Scott said she is bracing for an escalation in violence, not just because it’s almost summer, the most dangerous season of the year, but because homicides were already alarmingly high so far this year, despite the pandemic.

Last month, there were four homicides in one week: two 17-year-old boys were shot to death, and the next day two teenaged girls died when a party bus was shot up by more than one assailant as it traveled from the freeway and ended up at 73rd and MacArthur –  just a few blocks from Scott’s home. She wished she could haven there.

For those interested in learning more about the Community Chaplains, please call Pastors of Oakland at 510-688-7437.

 

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Bay Area

Bay Area’s Black Fraternities and Sororities Award $180,000 in Scholarships

Graduating seniors from all over the Bay Area as well as continuing college students were recognized for their academic achievements by the member organizations.

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Photo courtesy of NPHC facebook

On June 6, the San Francisco Bay Area National Pan Hellenic Council held its annual scholarship reception virtually where over 100 students were awarded a total of $180,000 in scholarships.

Chaired by Dr. Joseph Marshall, the SF Bay NPHC is comprised of 25 chapters of the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity.

Graduating seniors from all over the Bay Area as well as continuing college students were recognized for their academic achievements by the member organizations.

Recipients will be attending a wide variety of schools including HBCUs, prestigious colleges and local institutions like Howard University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State and Cal State East Bay.

In addition to the scholarships awarded by the individual chapters, the council awarded the Mrs. Bethola Harper Scholarships and the two SF Bay NPHC book scholarships.

Brigitte Cook is the vice president of the NPHC.

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Art

Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Manager Wins $25,000 Berresford Prize

United States Artists, the funding organization, named Bedoya a winner this year because of his significant contributions to the care and advancement of artists.

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Roberto Bedoya, who won the 2021 Berresford Prize for contributing to the well-being, advancement, and care of artists. Bedoya, in this undated photo, is the city of Oakland’s cultural affairs manager. (Bryan Mitchell/Courtesy of Grantmakers in the Arts).

Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Manager Roberto Bedoya has won the Berresford Prize, given each year to people who contribute to the well-being of artists, a national arts funding group said.
United States Artists, the funding organization, named Bedoya a winner this year because of his significant contributions to the care and advancement of artists.
Bedoya was one of two recipients this year. The other was Portland-based Native-Hawaiian arts leader Lulani Arquette.
“They are ideal recipients of the Berresford Prize, as they represent a deep commitment to artists, placing them at the heart of their life’s work,” said United States Artists Program Director Lynnette Miranda, in a statement.
Bedoya said in an interview on June 11 that he has been involved in the arts ever since high school.
He grew up in a now-annexed Latino enclave of Union City called Decoto and earlier in his life created an oral history of the area.
Later he worked for Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco followed by arts work in Wash., D.C. and Tucson, Arizona. He moved back to the Bay Area to be closer to family, he said.
“It’s a really sweet and wonderful award,” Bedoya said.
It came as a surprise and is an affirmation of his career, he said.
The prize was created by several fellows of United States Artists because people who dedicate their careers to helping artists have received little recognition. The inaugural prize was given in 2019.
Berresford Prize winners receive $25,000, which Bedoya said he is not sure what he is going to do with it.
    One of Bedoya’s recent accomplishments, which United Starts Artists noticed, was his unveiling of Oakland’s first cultural plan in three decades.
    The Berresford Prize is named after Susan Berresford, past president of the Ford Foundation, and co-founder United States Artists.

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