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S.B. SBCUSD New School Initiatives

PRECINCT REPORTER GROUP NEWS — Laptops available with free internet for local students to take home is not a secret, but it might as well be. Many parents are still not aware that they can get Chromebooks and free hotspot hookup for their students at San Bernardino City Unified School District just for the asking.

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Photo by: precinctreporter.com

By Dianne Anderson

Laptops available with free internet for local students to take home is not a secret, but it might as well be.

Many parents are still not aware that they can get Chromebooks and free hotspot hookup for their students at San Bernardino City Unified School District just for the asking.

It’s one of several ways the district is helping parents help their students make the grade this coming school year.  Parents can also look forward to two new initiatives, one for literacy, and the other for free breakfast and lunch to give kids the energy they need to focus.

Tasha Doizan, SBCUSD director of Elementary Instruction, said the district’s literacy community task force starts this Fall to build momentum around reading, and outreach to the community.

“We offer many ways to get books in the hands of our students through the schools, community partners and our district Chromebook initiative in which many schools have digital libraries,” she said.

Doizan said they want to especially reach students by third grade, a critical time when young minds are at risk of falling behind.

The good news is that students of all ages easily embrace technology, she said.  The district’s literacy and Chromebook initiative use the love of apps to help students with the love of reading.

With laptops, they can download fun educational apps, and all the free books they can read online.

“Families in the district can come and get a Chromebook with no charge, and they also get wi-fi access,” Doizan said. “Our families can take advantage of that, and have a Chromebook checked out so students can do their homework.”

Some students still enjoy turning actual pages, and parents are also welcome to start accounts to check out books at their school libraries, which is important for families that lack transportation to get to larger libraries.

Doizan, a past principal at Arrowhead Elementary School and Emmerton Elementary, said she is excited to bring the community together around literacy.

Kindergarten through third grade also represents an important time to get parents involved in reading with their children. “We have a district-wide back to school night in August, but you can never get the word out too much,” she said. “We want parents to know that resources are available to them.”

Also new this school year is free breakfast, lunch, snack and sometimes dinner for all students.

Jason Evylnn, assistant director of SBCUSD Nutrition Services, said 92% of the district’s students qualify under free or reduced status, which means that they exceed the required 62.5 threshold, and all the district’s students now eat for free.

When they first started four years ago, he said 50 school sites qualified, and last year, 67 schools qualified.  For 2019, every school at their 84 locations qualifies for breakfast, lunch and free snack.

Initially, they had six previous snack sites that are now converted to 22 supper sites. Students enrolled at select school sites and enrolled in the after school program can get a full dinner meal.  Some sites have up to 200 participating students, and he said getting food to students is a major part of learning.

Over the years, he’s attended several seminars showing the link between nutrition and brain activity. He said lack of concentration leads to behavioral issues. “Kids that don’t eat breakfast start getting hungry and they can’t focus,” he said.  “There have been cases where some kids were labeled as bad kids. They weren’t bad, they were just hungry kids.”

The district was dealing with a high level of classroom disruption, and decided to step up nutrition services and trainings. At all of their staff trainings, Evlynn highlights the need to get all students sufficiently fed so they can concentrate on their studies instead of their next meal.

“The one kid you think is misbehaving, even if you pull him aside and feed him, you’re going to see a behavior change,” he said

Students can also look forward to a somewhat sophisticated menu under Evylnn, a certified classically trained chef, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu. He takes pride that about 65 percent of their menu is scratch-made.

“We make all of our sauces, chili, spaghetti turkey gravy that we make here are from scratch, he said, adding that to his knowledge, the district has the only kitchen with a central chill facility in the Inland Empire. Their building is 63,000 square feet.

While the kids always love packaged foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, he said the district’s packaged food is better than anything off the shelf.

“We get the same name brands as the grocery store, but we’re like 400% healthier, when it comes to calorie sodium level and sugar,” he said.

For many of the kids, he said the only real meal they get in a day is from school.

“On nights and weekends, they’re struggling to find food. That’s why we try to feed everyone we can,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Precinct Reporter News Group.

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Brittney Griner Sentenced to More than 9 years in Russian Prison

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision. “We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner has been sentenced to more than 9 years in a Russian prison following her conviction on drug charges.

Her lawyers called the verdict a disappointment and vowed to appeal.

The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice.

“Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal,” they added.

Russian officials contended that Griner committed the crime on purpose. They also levied a fine totaling about $16,400 American dollars on the basketball star.

Authorities arrested Griner on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow after finding less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has been detained since then.

Recently, American officials revealed that the Biden-Harris administration had offered notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” President Biden said.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

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Report: Human Rights Violations in Prisons Throughout Southern United States Cause Disparate and Lasting Harm in Black Communities  

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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NNPA Newswire

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.

With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.

The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.

On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.

Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.

In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.

While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.

By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.

According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:

  • Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
  • Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
  • Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”

“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”

“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.

“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

Read the full report here.

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Celebrate your birthday with 10 free items

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

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By Angelina Liu, Entertainment Editor of The Trendsetter / Texas Metro News

Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

1. Chocolate Secrets

At Chocolate Secrets, located at 3926 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, you can celebrate your birthday by getting one free piece of candy under their candy cases.

2. WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”

Head to WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”, located at 684 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 100, Grand Prairie, Texas 75051, to claim a free small personal daiquiri on your birthday. Quench your thirst with signature flavors such as “Strawberry Shortcake” or “Bahama Mama.”

3. Sephora

Sign up for a free, Beauty Insider account and receive your choice of 250 bonus points, Laura Mercier, Amika or Tatcha sets on your birthday. The choice of powders, lipsticks and skincare is bound to make you look fabulous for your special day.

4. Starbucks

Need a quick pick-me-up on your birthday? Starbucks has it covered! Join the Starbucks Rewards Program seven days prior to your birthday and make one purchase. Starbucks will then email you a coupon for a free food or beverage item two days before your birthday. The birthday reward qualifies for anything on the menu, including any size handcrafted drink or food item.

5. Jersey Mike’s

In the mood for a sub? Head over to Jersey Mike’s and receive a free sub and drink. Make sure to sign up for the Jersey Mike’s Subs Email Club prior to your birthday to receive this reward. Nothing tastes quite like melted cheese and meat in between a toasted baguette, along with an icy cold drink.

6. The Cheesecake Factory

Celebrating with friends? Tell your server it’s your birthday and receive a free treat as well as a song. It may be mildly embarrassing, but hey, it’s free!

7. Culver’s

Need something cold and sweet to beat the Texas heat? Head to Culver’s for a free sundae when you sign up for their rewards program. The sweet creaminess will surely not disappoint.

8. IHOP

Want to indulge in a sweet breakfast before birthday festivities? Join the International Bank of Pancakes rewards program to receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday. Pair your pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips, syrup, fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream.

9. McDonald’s

Need a snack before embarking on your next birthday adventure? Download the McDonald’s app and join MyMcDonald’s Rewards to receive free large fries. Mmm, the taste and smell of fresh, perfectly salted french fries.

10. Smoothie King

Want to celebrate your birthday with a healthier option? Enjoy a birthday smoothie at Smoothie King. Download the Smoothie King app to receive this offer.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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