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GRIP Kicks Off “Countdown to End Hunger” Fundraiser

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The Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) has launched its First Annual Countdown to End Hunger in Richmond—a campaign to raise $20,000 in support of its emergency shelter and soup kitchen.

< p>The campaign began in November and will continue to Dec. 31. Some organizations, businesses and community members have made initial donations to kick-start the campaign. The East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) pledged a one-to-one match on all contributions posted during the campaign.

“When EBCF pledged its support, I just wanted to jump out of my skin. GRIP’s Annual Campaign was on hiatus for a couple of years. To be able to roll out a new campaign with the support of a major contributor like EBCF means everything and makes our dollars go further,” said Kia Croom, GRIP Program Director.

GRIP is the leading provider of homeless services in Richmond. Programs and services benefit 15,000 residents of the city and surrounding West Contra Costa neighborhoods.

To learn more about GRIP or make a charitable contribution to the Countdown to End Hunger in Richmond visit www.gripcommunity.org or contact Kia Croom at (510) 233-2141.

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California Black Media

California State Budget: Legislature Announces Counter Proposal to Gov’s 2024-25 Plan

Last week, members of both houses of the California legislature discussed plans to close the state’s $27.6 billion budget gap, restore funds to build housing, preserve social services, and help the state save money. The legislative hearings on the budget took place nearly three weeks after Gov. Newsom presented the May revision of his 2024-25 annual spending plan.

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California Assembly Speaker Robert A. Rivas
California Assembly Speaker Robert A. Rivas.

By California Black Media

Last week, members of both houses of the California legislature discussed plans to close the state’s $27.6 billion budget gap, restore funds to build housing, preserve social services, and help the state save money.

The legislative hearings on the budget took place nearly three weeks after Gov. Newsom presented the May revision of his 2024-25 annual spending plan.

On May 30, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) and Senate Pro Tem Mike McGuire (D-North Coast) announced a joint legislative budget proposal on May 30 that saves approximately half of the state’s reserves for future budget years.

“Fixing California’s deficit means making tough choices, so the Assembly came to these negotiations focused on preserving programs that matter most to Californians: lowering the cost of living, expanding affordable housing access and sustaining public services,” said Rivas.

The Democratic Party Budget Committee reviewed the governor’s proposed spending plan to remove various programs and reduce funding for agencies statewide. Newsom’s proposed cuts to public schools across California prompted teachers’ unions to push back with advertisements pressuring the governor to reconsider his budget plans.

The California Teachers Association argued that public schools could lose billions in the next few years resulting in a loss of teachers and resources in the state.

“This agreement is sound and makes the necessary tough decisions meeting the needs of this critical time, all while maintaining our commitment to strong public schools, investing in desperately needed resources in homelessness and workforce housing, health care access, resources to keep our communities fire safe, key climate investments and more,” said McGuire.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the Department of Finance, said that Gov. Newsom agreed to a temporary arrangement with the teachers’ union to delay spending cuts. The parties agreed to suspend Proposition 98, a law that guarantees an annual minimum amount of funding for public schools.

“The result of that is an agreement we can both support, and that advances two shared goals: avoid multi-billion-dollar cuts to schools in the near term and provide greater predictability for school budgets in the long term,” said Palmer.

The State Senate held budget hearings this week to finalize the plan due by June 15. By state law, once the budget plan is passed, the Governor will have to finalize it by July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

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Activism

U.S. Rep. Kamlager-Dove Leads Discussion on Improving Black Student Learning, Test Scores

Kamlager-Dove, who represents a district that covers parts of Los Angeles County, hopes that ideas shared at the event can be incorporated into models that can impact other regions across California, where Black students continue to fall behind their peers of other races and ethnicities.

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Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) moderates a panel including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education during Roundtable on Equity in Education for Los Angeles Unified School District (R to L) beside Kamlager-Dove Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer, Los Angeles USD; Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Keith Linton, Founder, Boys to Gentlemen, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and LAUSD student Jonathan McGee. Photo by Lila Brown (CBM).
Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) moderates a panel including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education during Roundtable on Equity in Education for Los Angeles Unified School District (R to L) beside Kamlager-Dove Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer, Los Angeles USD; Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Keith Linton, Founder, Boys to Gentlemen, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and LAUSD student Jonathan McGee. Photo by Lila Brown (CBM).

By Lila Brown, California Black Media

On April 8, U.S. Congressmember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37) moderated a roundtable focused on Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) strategies to improve Black student performance in classrooms.

Kamlager-Dove, who represents a district that covers parts of Los Angeles County, hopes that ideas shared at the event can be incorporated into models that can impact other regions across California, where Black students continue to fall behind their peers of other races and ethnicities.

Discussions at the event centered on LAUSD’s Black Student Achievement Plan (BSAP) and other educational initiatives aimed at enhancing learning and boosting test scores.

“The Black Student Achievement Plan is unique in that it takes a community-centered approach to uplifting Black students,” said Kamlager-Dove during the event held at John Muir Middle School in Los Angeles.

“We must implement culturally responsive education in the classroom to challenge our students academically while giving them a sense of purpose,” she continued.

In 2023, nearly 70% of Black children in California fell below a passing mark on the state standardized English Language Arts exam, and only about 20% of those students were performing at grade level based on their scores on the math assessment test.

A variety of public education experts joined Kamlager on the panel, including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer at LAUSD; Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor and Dean at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education; and Keith Linton, founder of the non-profit Boys to Gentlemen. 

Jonathan McGee, a student who sits on the BSAP Student Advisory Council, also spoke during the panel.

The BSAP was approved by the LAUSD Board of Education in February of the 2020-21 school year. Funds have been earmarked to address the longstanding disparities in educational outcomes between Black students and their non-Black peers. Dating back to the landmark case, Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional, positive outcomes for Black students continue to lag behind district and national averages for their non-Black counterparts.

Edogun-Ticey spoke about broader investments the federal government is making in education that directly impact Black students through The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.

‘This administration did not shy away from the idea that we need resources for support which means billions of dollars in investment for HBCUs,” she explained.

BSAP strategies include partnering with Black families and local community; supporting the implementation of culturally and linguistically responsive and anti-racist practices; offering wrap-around support structures; and highlighting experiences that uplift the contributions of the Black community as motivation and models to develop positive Black student identity. Additionally, the BSAP provides increased staffing to support Black students’ academic and social-emotional needs.

“School districts across the country must push back against attacks on marginalized students by implementing programs like the BSAP, which should serve as a model for future initiatives,” Kamlager said.

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City Government

SUSD’s Dept. of Public Safety Achieves Compliance with State DOJ’s Five-Year Stipulated Judgment

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Stockton Unified School District (District) and its Department of Public Safety (Department), concluding the five-year term of the stipulated judgment that addressed system-wide violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Black and Latino students and students with disabilities.

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Official photo, SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco. Official photo, Pastor Trena Turner of Stockton’s Victory In Praise Church. Victory in Praise Church photo.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Official photo, SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco. Official photo, Pastor Trena Turner of Stockton’s Victory In Praise Church. Victory in Praise Church photo.

Special to the Post

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Stockton Unified School District (District) and its Department of Public Safety (Department), concluding the five-year term of the stipulated judgment that addressed system-wide violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Black and Latino students and students with disabilities.

The District has also committed to implementing a plan to further reduce disproportionalities in law enforcement referrals through school year 2026-2027, which will institutionalize the revised policies and practices and continue the progress made under the judgment.

“Over the past five years, the California Department of Justice and the Stockton Unified School District worked together to successfully implement the corrective actions set out in the stipulated judgment to protect the rights of students in schools,” Bonta said on April 11. 

“Today we can celebrate that the agreement has helped the District take important steps to address concerns regarding interactions between police officers and students and to promote an equitable and positive learning environment.

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our educators, staff, students, and Department of Public Safety, said SUSD Supt. Dr. Michelle Rodriguez. “We reaffirm our commitment to continue the important changes and policies and remain steadfast in our mission to improve services and support for all students, ensuring that each child has the opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.”

“The Department is proud of the work that was completed surrounding the DOJ Agreement which has not only made us a better Department but has placed us at the forefront of progressive policing,” said SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco.

“The consent decree was phase one. Now we must build on this momentum to cement the progress that has been made, and fix policdes and practices that continue to hurt SUSD students and families,” said Jasmine Dellafosse, Director of Organizing and Community Engagement at End Poverty in CA.

“The requisite collaboration that took place with community members and the Stockton Unified School District was an admirable beginning,” said Pastor Trena Turner, Victory In Praise Church. “Continued efforts of transparency and inclusion that outlasts the monitoring period, will be of paramount importance to further strengthen the district and ultimately improve the lived experience of our students.”

In 2019, a DOJ investigation concluded that the District’s policies and practices with respect to law enforcement referrals discriminated against Black and Latino students and students with disabilities. The investigation also found unconstitutional search and seizure practices.

DOJ and the District entered into a stipulated judgment that required significant reforms and a five-year monitoring period. As part of the stipulated judgment, which concluded on Feb. 19, the District:

  • Established clear policies and procedures limiting when school administrators refer students to law enforcement.
  • Created a formal diversion program in lieu of citations and arrests to address minor school-based offenses.
  • Revised policies and procedures relating to treatment of students with disabilities in order to prevent discrimination, including the hiring of a trained Disability Coordinator.
  • Created clear processes for school site administrators to refer students with mental health needs to support services rather than a referral to law enforcement.
  • Instituted mandatory annual training of all officers and staff regarding civil and constitutional rights, disability and special education laws, and elimination of bias.
  • Reformed use of force policies, procedures, and practices, including implementing a comprehensive review process.
  • Updated search and seizure policies.
  • Used data to track and analyze all arrests and referrals to law enforcement from schools; and
  • Established the Community Advisory Group, which collaborated with the District to provide input and review updated policies.

Overall, the judgment led to markedly improved outcomes for students. Total arrests of students dropped significantly; in school year 2018-2019, there were 155 arrests, compared to nine arrests during school year 2022-2023. Calls for service to the Department decreased by 54% and unwarranted calls for service decreased by 52%.

Under the disproportionality plan, the Community Advisory Group and Transformative Justice subcommittee, consisting of community organizations and other stakeholders, will continue to meet regularly to improve and reduce disparities in law enforcement referrals and receive and analyze disaggregated and anonymized District data on use of force, law enforcement contacts, citations, arrests, and calls for assistance.

The media office of California State Attorney General Rob Bonta is the source of this report.

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