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Early Learning Center for Preschoolers at Contra Costa College

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Every morning at about 7:00 a.m. parents drop off their preschoolers at the Early Learning Center at Contra Costa College (CCC). They begin their day in the Enhancement Room, a classroom filled with toys designed to promote their self-awareness, problem solving, and cognitive skills.

“There’s so many activities that help the children expand their experiences,” said Willola Ross, a teacher at ELC. “I grew up in a military family, and at a young age, I was exposed various cultures living in different parts of the country and abroad. I want the children to have a well-rounded education.”

Inside, classrooms are divided into different learning stations that focus on art, math, geography, drama and science. At the geography station, a map of the world on the wall connects each child’s ethnic roots to the Bay Area.

The daily schedule is jam-packed with activities in art, language, geography, and construction. The center features an enclosed playground behind the building along with a garden that the children help to water, turn dirt and plant seeds of tomatoes, corn, and strawberries.

During naptime, slow classical music plays. Ross says children bring their own lunch, but nutritional snacks (fresh fruit and vegetables) are provided in the mornings and afternoons.

Parents can choose between the traditional and Montessori classroom programs. The Montessori approach, based on the theories of Dr. Maria Montessori, is designed to take full advantage of the self-motivation of young children to develop their own capabilities.

The curriculum promotes self-directed learning and individual lessons that match the interests of the child.

The traditional method focuses on children learning through experimenting, reasoning, and questioning.

Average costs for preschools range from $4,460 to $13,158 per year ($372 to $1,100 monthly), according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).

In California, the annual fee for full-time care in a center is around $12,000. The Early Learning Center’s full-time annual fees in comparison are roughly between $8,900 and $9,775 and also offer childcare subsidies through Cal Works and the Contra Costa Child Care Council.

The typical staff to children is 1:8 for preschoolers, where small group activities, story time, and music is incorporated into the daily schedule. Volunteers work on a rotation basis so that they gain experience working in both Montessori and traditional classrooms

“Many people don’t realize we’re located on CCC’s campus,” said Director Barbara Grillo.

“The ELC has received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which means that the center goes above and beyond all the minimum requirements.”

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Community

Dasia Taylor: A Girl’s Powerful Success Story Is Inspiring the Next Wave of STEAM Leaders

Dasia Taylor’s journey began as a young girl in high school in her AP chemistry class. Her teacher at Iowa City’s West High School had just asked which students wanted to try out for the school’s science fair team. Taylor volunteered. At the time, Taylor was a high-school junior focusing on the humanities. She was already overcommitted as a member of the student senate, her district’s diversity and equity committee, and an array of other “anti-racism initiatives.” Her family had no history of participating in science fairs – and no desire to attend one, as she wasn’t really into science. However, Taylor says her life and decisions are guided by a simple rule: “Be curious.”

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Courtesy of Society of Science
Courtesy of Society of Science

By Tamara Shiloh

Dasia Taylor’s journey began as a young girl in high school in her AP chemistry class. Her teacher at Iowa City’s West High School had just asked which students wanted to try out for the school’s science fair team. Taylor volunteered.

At the time, Taylor was a high-school junior focusing on the humanities.

She was already overcommitted as a member of the student senate, her district’s diversity and equity committee, and an array of other “anti-racism initiatives.” Her family had no history of participating in science fairs – and no desire to attend one, as she wasn’t really into science. However, Taylor says her life and decisions are guided by a simple rule: “Be curious.”

With cash prizes in the four-digit range and competitors polishing concepts and techniques since grade-school, today’s science fair projects are much more advanced than the simple papier-mâché volcanoes we used to see.

Taylor says her chances of entering the science far, let alone winning, were slim to none.

However, she won her next competition, then the one after that. Finally, she ended up in the last stage of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Super Bowl of high school science competitions. And the publicity resulting from her unlikely story and potentially world-changing proposal made Taylor a viral sensation, putting the bubbly 17-year-old on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’, ‘PBS NewsHour’, CNN, and many other shows.

In fact, equity work was the inspiration for Taylor’s science ideas. Her medical suture, which colors beet juice to reveal an infected surgical wound, is based on research that shows that Black individuals are particularly vulnerable to post-surgical complications such as infection – and that what appears on some patients’ skin as simple signs of infection, like a red patch and swelling, doesn’t show up on darker skin.

Taylor’s suture concept, which she is trying to patent, could provide a simple low-cost fix in poor countries where infections that can easily be treated are often fatal.

Two years after her forum-moments virilization, at 19, Taylor is a college student, but also the founder and CEO of VariegateHealth, creating inclusive medical devices; and the owner of her own “head nerd brand.”

“My life’s work is helping kids embrace their inner nerd and just be their authentic selves,” Taylor says.

Through “hands-on innovation workshops,” she inspires teenagers to make science bolder. By bolder, Taylor says she means more exciting and socially meaningful.

By the time the debate wrapped up, Taylor had been chosen for the 2023 Iowa’s Woman of the Year prize by USA Today, which annually showcases creative leaders with “stories that influence their communities.”

She was featured in the collection “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women,” which is part of the Rebel Girls series.

Through her innovative work and advocacy for STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programs, Taylor is proving that it’s possible for students to be curious about the issues that affect their lives, engage in learning experiences not just in the classroom but beyond, and change the world.

With this constant motivation and her focus on improving the lives of others, she has become a public speaker, and a role model for the millennial generation worldwide.

Taylor says she has a penchant for the color yellow, music and creating any rule she wants.

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California Black Media

California Approves $1.3 Billion to Restructure Community Schools

The State Board of Education and Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that they have approved $1.3 billion in grants to implement a new school initiative that offers students support outside the classroom. According to a press release dated May 8, State education officials have appropriated funds since 2021 to offer students and their families resources such as health care, mental health support, and social services.

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The California Department of Education plans to mobilize resources to help students thrive in school and at home. This initiative includes summer programs, tutoring, and counseling.
The California Department of Education plans to mobilize resources to help students thrive in school and at home. This initiative includes summer programs, tutoring, and counseling.

By California Black Media

The State Board of Education and Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that they have approved $1.3 billion in grants to implement a new school initiative that offers students support outside the classroom.

According to a press release dated May 8, State education officials have appropriated funds since 2021 to offer students and their families resources such as health care, mental health support, and social services. The State’s board awarded $1.3 billion to 288 local education agencies that fund and support 995 schools statewide.

The California Department of Education plans to mobilize resources to help students thrive in school and at home. This initiative includes summer programs, tutoring, and counseling.

Gov. Newsom said that the state is expanding community schools across the state. Students will be offered free meals twice a day, mental health counseling, and after-school programs.

“California is transforming education to make schools a place where every family and student can succeed,” Newsom said.

The state is developing the initiative as part of the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP), a ten-year plan that promotes equity and quality education for students in California. The state will spend $4.1 billion with its partners including community schools, local counties, government agencies, and nonprofits that provide health, mental health, and social services.

State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond is eager to uplift communities with well-resourced schools and achieve equity in public education.

“We know children learn best when they are healthy, happy, and in a learning environment where they are surrounded by knowledgeable and caring adults attuned to their needs,” Darling-Hammond said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond endorsed current school programs and anticipates promising results as grants are invested in these programs.

“Our Community Schools continue to serve as exemplars of programs that educate the whole child. I am proud to see California continue to be at the forefront of recognizing that student wellness is a cornerstone of learning,” Thurmond said.

The California Department of Education will award a final round of grants to community-based organizations and schools during the 2024-2025 academic year.

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Activism

S.F. Black Leaders Rally to Protest, Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Racial Slurs Against Black Students in SF Public School System

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored. 

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Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.
Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.

By Carla Thomas

San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church hosted a rally and meeting Sunday to discuss hatred toward African American students of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, along with leadership from local civil rights groups, the city’s faith-based community and Black community leadership convened at the church.

“There has been an epidemic of racial slurs and mistreatment of Black children in our public schools in the city,” said Brown. “This will not be tolerated.”

According to civil rights advocate Mattie Scott, students from elementary to high school have reported an extraordinary amount of racial slurs directed at them.

“There is a surge of overt racism in the schools, and our children should not be subjected to this,” said Scott. “Students are in school to learn, develop, and grow, not be hated on,” said Scott. “The parents of the children feel they have not received the support necessary to protect their children.”

Attendees were briefed last Friday in a meeting with SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne.

SFUSD states that their policies protect children and they are not at liberty to publicly discuss the issues to protect the children’s privacy.

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored.

Some parents said they have removed their students from school while other parents and community leaders called on the removal of the SFUSD superintendent, the firing of certain school principals and the need for more supportive school board members.

Community advocates discussed boycotting the schools and creating Freedom Schools led by Black leaders and educators, reassuring parents that their child’s wellbeing and education are the highest priority and youth are not to be disrupted by racism or policies that don’t support them.

Virginia Marshall, chair of the San Francisco NAACP’s education committee, offered encouragement to the parents and students in attendance while also announcing an upcoming May 14 school board meeting to demand accountability over their mistreatment.

“I’m urging anyone that cares about our students to pack the May 14 school board meeting,” said Marshall.

This resource was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library via California Black Media as part of the Stop the Hate Program. The program is supported by partnership with California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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