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Budget Proposal Would Ease Testing Requirements for California Teachers

If the proposal is approved, teacher candidates will have the option of taking coursework at a university in the content area of the credential they are pursuing to prove subject-matter competence instead of taking some or all of the CSET tests required for their credential.

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California teachers may soon have more flexibility when it comes to the tests they are required to take to earn a credential.

The state’s Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees on education are recommending that legislators approve a proposal in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-’22 state budget that would allow candidates to earn a teaching credential without taking two tests currently required.

If it is approved, candidates wouldn’t have to take the California Basic Educational Skills Test, or CBEST, or the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, or CSET, if they have earned a grade of B or better in qualifying coursework or tests that apply toward requirements for a degree.

Currently, a teacher candidate is required to prove proficiency in basic reading, writing and math by passing the CBEST or other approved exams. The test is usually taken before a student is accepted into a teacher preparation program.

The education trailer bill released May 14 outlines the types of courses that students in teacher preparation programs can take instead of the CBEST. Classes in critical thinking, literature, philosophy, reading, rhetoric or textual analysis can be taken to prove the teacher has basic reading skills.

Classes in composition, English and rhetoric can prove basic writing skills, and courses in algebra, geometry, mathematics, quantitative reasoning or statistics can be taken to prove basic math skills.

Teacher candidates also have been required to pass tests that are part of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers to earn a credential. Elementary school teachers must pass three tests — in science and math; reading, language, literature, history and social science; and physical education, human development and visual and performing arts — to earn a multiple-subject credential. Middle and high school teachers earn single-subject credentials in areas such as art, biology or English by passing at least one subject exam.

If the proposal is approved, teacher candidates will have the option of taking coursework at a university in the content area of the credential they are pursuing to prove subject-matter competence instead of taking some or all of the CSET tests required for their credential.

“It’s promising to see the governor and Legislature come together in support of new options for aspiring teachers to demonstrate knowledge and skills through coursework,” said Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. “These new flexibilities will strike the right balance by upholding rigorous standards and reducing unnecessary barriers to the teaching profession.”

The proposal, which has gone unchallenged by legislators during the budget process, still needs to be approved by the full Legislature as part of the budget package by June 15. Legislators must negotiate a final state budget with the governor and pass it by June 30.

California’s teacher candidates have been required to take up to six tests to earn a credential, depending on what they plan to teach. The tests have been a major stumbling block for many, with nearly half of California’s potential teachers struggling to pass the standardized tests required to earn a credential, according to data from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

In the past two years, the commission has convened work groups and held numerous meetings to study how to best reform the testing process. The COVID-19 pandemic ramped up these efforts as testing centers closed, making it difficult to take the required tests.

In spring 2020, Newsom and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing began easing some rules for the required tests. Last June, the governor gave teachers more time to complete all the requirements for a credential and more time to submit information missing from applications.    

The new budget proposes suspending test requirements another year if a credential candidate is unable to complete an assessment because of testing center closures or capacity limits.

The proposed changes to teacher testing are largely the same as those proposed last year in Assembly Bill 1982, which addressed the CBEST, and Assembly Bill 2485, which addressed the CSET. 

Both failed to pass before the end of the legislative session last year. The biggest difference between the budget proposal and last year’s bills is that the bills, meant to help teachers complete their credentials during the coronavirus pandemic, were set to end after three years. The new proposal has no sunset date.

Bay Area

Spoken Word Offers Aid to Black Men Facing Hardships

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

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Image provided by Black Men Speak website

According to a National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019 for the African American community, 6.5 million African Americans had a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.

These numbers don’t compare to the more in depth statistics on those who receive treatment and who do not and how, specifically, Black men are affected. For a lot of Black men and men of color, access to resources that may aid in mental health or substance abuse treatment are slim because of the influence within their own communities and outside of it to turn their backs on things that are perceived as anything less than the strength they should possess as a man, especially a Black man.

Black Men Speak, INC.(BMS), an international speakers bureau, was founded in 2009 through the Alameda Pool of Consumer Champions with this very notion in mind, that the best way to connect to other Black men who were struggling with mental health and substance abuse was through storytelling of their own struggles.

Three years following Black Men Speaks’ foundation, Men of Color(MOC) speaker’s bureau was established, which allowed them to expand their reach in the community.

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

The stories that are told are set in the present day and feature unique challenges of loss, trauma, social and family issues and community violence and the importance of faith on the road to overall wellness & recovery.

Besides aiding their fellow men through connection in storytelling, BMS offers resources that help with employment, housing, homeless prevention, mentoring and peer support and training for presentation and public speaking.

Alongside these resources and mentoring, they make sure to do their part in advocating and assertively addressing other issues within their communities that have a direct impact on the African American community.

Black Men Speak is located in Oakland at 303 Hegenberger Road in Suite 210. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 510-969-5086 or email 1blackmenspeak@gmail.com.

 

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Activism

Jasmine Market Encourage Unity in Marin City

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

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Top: The Jasmine Market at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bottom: Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, Tammy Lai (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The First Marin City’s Jasmine Market was an inclusive, outdoor market celebrating Asian joy and intercultural solidarity in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May.

It was hosted by the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) and was held at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City on May 28, 2021.

A Marin City Librarian read an AAPI story. Sammy Brionnes gave a musical performance. Natalie Nong performed a Spoken Word poem.

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee is the director of Women’s Rights and Peace Bay Area, and a board member for the Asian American Alliance of Marin. She is involved in advocating for ethnic studies in the Marin County School District and is working to spread awareness of the “comfort women” from Korea and other Asian nations. These women were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Tammy Lai is the CEO at Foundation for Justice and Peace (jpf.world).

Damacion, who lives in the East Bay, is the Micro-Enterprise Program Manager at the MCCDC.

During the discussion, Lee says that God created people in his image. We need to treat people in the image of God.

Lee really wants to see Asians, especially women, integrate with the other minorities, such as Koreans, who can become culturally isolated, and spoke to the need to bridge and understand other ethnic groups. “We need to step forward to meet each other halfway, and to reach out to understand each other,” Lee said.

Lai says that we have this opportunity, as we question ourselves in this cultural landscape, to build bridges. Communities become healthier when its members take one step toward one another to understand, listen and to build something better together.

Damacion, who is Filipino and mixed-raced, feels very strongly about building connections that are positive and beneficial to a community. Through her work with the MCCDC, she will work to advance diversity in Marin City, and will shed a light on the beauty she sees in Marin City and how people in the community took care of each other for generations.

Lai’s family immigrated from China to America after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Her family history has brought her a deeper awareness of her identity. It becomes important to carry these conversations forward and share them with others.

“We all have our stories and should be open to tell them. There is nothing new under human history so we should learn to share them. You become much closer to each other,” says Lee.

For more information, go to www.marincitycdc.org/jasmine-market

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African American News & Issues

Black Panther Mini Museum Free to BIPOC Juneteenth Weekend

Lisbet Tellefsen is the curator, Linnea Du is the editor, Otherwise provided design, and Art Kotoulas production.

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Graphic courtesy West Oakland Mural Project.

The Mini Museum of the Black Panther Party @ The Mural opens on Juneteenth, June 19, 2021, at 831 Center St., Oakland, CA.  It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Tickets for up to five people for a 30-minute tour can be purchased in advance by logging onto westoaklandmuralproject.org.  Children under 12 are free as are BIPOC folks during Juneteenth weekend. Individual tickets can be purchased for $12.50.

Lisbet Tellefsen is the curator, Linnea Du is the editor, Otherwise provided design, and Art Kotoulas production.

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