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Education

State of Black Education in Oakland Kicks Off at Kingston 11

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Community organizers, parents and educators convened last week at Oakland’s Kingston 11 Jamaican Restaurant to take part in a kickoff for the State of Black Education Oakland (SBEO). Participants included the Oakland Unified School District, Great School Voices, Energy Convertors, Patterson Consulting, the NAACP, and the Black Teacher Project.

While enjoying authentic Jamaican cuisine, guests engaged in purposeful dialogue on Oakland’s education system and solutions for the most important problems.

“We really want to analyze the past, present and future of Black education in Oakland, generate ideas and track it for the next 3-4 months,” said Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Oakland School Board vice president – (D-3).

Co-organizer, Charles Cole of Energy Convertors finds it essential to have elders and younger generations in the same space. ”

The wisdom of the elders and the energy of the youth and today’s activists will provide a broader research community as we promote change in our schools,” he said.

Guest speaker, Oakland Post – Post News Group Publisher, Paul Cobb shared how growing up in West Oakland with his childhood friends positioned him to take part in both heroic and historic movements, nationally and locally.

“Being an activist, born in West Oakland on 7th street, I went to elementary school and grew up around the corner from Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and other Panthers,” said Cobb. “We became politically active, got jobs with the City of Oakland’s summer youth program and we began to monitor government. “

Prior to owning the Oakland Post, Cobb was a reporter in 1968, under the previous owner, Thomas Berkeley.

“My first assignment was the Selma March. I got a chance to walk beside Dr. King as a reporter, an usher and activist. I have 14 hours of taped exclusive interviews and involvement.”

As a reporter, government monitor and now activist, Cobb and other activists sought to seize the vote for change.

“We then began to do voter registration through the original Black Panther Party (BPP) in Alabama and when Stokley Carmichael and others came out to the Bay Area for a fundraiser, the BPP movement took on the name of the BPP voter registration party in Alabama.”

Before 1968 was over, Cobb became the chair of the Oakland Black Caucus, comprised of 147 organizations.

“We started putting pressure on government, city hall, the school board, EBMUD, Peralta College and everywhere. If we had the cell phone technology you have today, things would have moved even faster.”

Cobb reminded guests that people can register to vote via an app on the cell phone. “There is no excuse for not registering to vote or not voting.”

Being unapologetic, monitoring government and communicating regularly are all keys to change the societal trajectory.

“Like Jesse Jackson says,“’we have to be unafraid to call the wicked man wicked to the wicked man’s face.’”

While discussing the Oakland Pride Trial of 1968, Cobb shared the costs of his activism.

“We got arrested after we went to the Oakland Board of Education, closed the doors and refused to adjourn the meeting until a Black superintendent was voted in. After an 11 week trial, one of the longest trials in Oakland, Paul was acquitted “thanks to the testimony of a guy in Piedmont, who witnessed the events.”

Cobb’s acknowledged the amazing partnership in life he shared with his beautiful wife in the audience.

“My wife, Gaye Cobb was elected to the Alameda County Board of education 4 times, marched with King and helps with jobs through the Oakland Private Industry Council (OPIC), Oakland. We have been fighters for Oakland through the years and together we were a big part of renaming the freeway after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.”

Creating change requires being heard and Cobb encouraged audience members to use all the avenues they have access to. “We want each of you to go to the school board meetings and FaceBook, Tweet and SnapChat. The Post news Group is with you and we can collaborate.”

For more information,  visit www.stateofblackeducation.com and energyconvertors.org.

Community

Congratulations to Michelle Mack

Nominated for Teacher of the Year

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Photo courtesy Michelle Mack

Congratulations to Michelle Mack, currently a pre-K lead teacher in Atlanta, Ga., who was nominated for Teacher of the Year. A 2008 graduate of St. Elizabeth’s High School who earned a degree in child psychology from San Francisco State University in 2012, Mack received her master’s from Clark University in 2015.

Mack was recognized by the Easter Seals of North Georgia (ESNG) for “serving five consistent years teaching children and helping families with the same company” and awarded the ESNG-Guice Center Award for Individual Excellence.

 

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Activism

Young Adults Speak Out at Climate Adaptation Seminar

The Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), is conducting a series of seminars entitled “Building an Inclusive and Equitable Adaptation Movement.”  Their recent seminar, held on July 20, focused on the youth and how they could be more recognized and  represented in the climate adaptation space.

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From top left: Tianna Shaw-Wakeman, Skyler Kriese, Moiz Mir, Catherine Foster (Photo by Godfrey Lee)

The Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), is conducting a series of seminars entitled “Building an Inclusive and Equitable Adaptation Movement.”  Their recent seminar, held on July 20, focused on the youth and how they could be more recognized and  represented in the climate adaptation space.
ARCCA is a coalition of the Local Government Commission and represents leading collaborative networks from across California that strive to build regional resilience to climate impacts.  ARCCA members work to enhance public health, protect natural systems, build economies, and create resilient, livable communities throughout California. 

ARCCA members effectively bolster their individual and collective efforts by sharing best practices and resources, identifying strategies to overcome key barriers and challenges, and conducting joint campaigns and projects.

ARCCA believes that the youth have been under-represented in the climate initiative. “It has become more apparent over the years that the youth, with their activism and experience, can have a pivotal role to play in our adaption to climate change. It is the goal of ARRCA, in their work in climate change, to expand the youth’s participation in their projects and actively include them in our leadership phases and decision-making processes,” said Catherine Foster, the moderator of the seminar, and ARCCA’s Climate & Energy Project manager, LGC.

Three college graduates who were involved in the environmental movement on their campuses spoke during the seminar.

Tianna Shaw-Wakeman holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, and graduated as the first Black Valedictorian for the Class of 2021. She served and led many of the prominent campus environmental activism groups. “We all work with people who are different places, so recognize the gaps in your knowledge, and also what the other person does and does not know,” Wakeman said.

Skyler Kriese graduated from Santa Clara University in 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. She is a 2020-2021 CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow supporting Butte County Department of Development Services on three grant-funded, long-range planning projects. Following her service year, she will continue her studies at the University of Michigan, pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Justice and Environmental Policy and Planning.

Kriese says that local governments need to identify environment justice communities and address environmental justice in their general plans. This is important so that processes and policies can begin to work and ultimately create healthier communities. 

Moiz Mir was the president of the Environmental Student Organization at California State University Sacramento from 2017–2019. As an intern at the Sacramento Mayor’s Office, he organized youth summits to include students’ voices in the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change and served on the commission’s Community Health, Resiliency and Equity Technical Advisory Committees. 

Mir advocates building toward inclusivity, to reach out to a more diverse people in the work toward climate adaptation. 

For more information on ARCCA and their upcoming seminars, go to https://arccacalifornia.org/embedding-equity-in-adaptation/ 

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Coronavirus

California Top Educator Tony Thurmond Says State’s Schools on Track for Safe Reopening

“The CDC and the California Department of Public Health have already provided guidance that even as case rates increase, if everyone is wearing a mask and everyone who can get a vaccine gets one, we can keep our schools open safely,” Thurmond said.

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California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond says school districts across the state are prepared to open safely in the fall even as COVID-19 cases surge in California and around the country. The new spike in COVID-19 positive rates across the state are driven by infections involving the more contagious Delta variant.

Thurmond was speaking online at a recent Safe Schools for All seminar featuring several California education experts. On the call, Thurmond gave parents a preview of what they will likely face when their children return to class in the fall.

He mentioned that he visited Camarena Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District and that the school opened July 21 successfully implementing the new mask requirements. About 900 of the 1,000-member student body were present, he said.

“Everyone was wearing a mask,” he said. “Everyone was following protocol.”

On July, Thurmond visited a summer learning program at Monte Vista Elementary School in Los Angeles County.

“The CDC and the California Department of Public Health have already provided guidance that even as case rates increase, if everyone is wearing a mask and everyone who can get a vaccine gets one, we can keep our schools open safely,” Thurmond said.

Thurmond also said that vaccines were vital to returning to normal. He also reminded African Americans to make sure to get the vaccines. He noted that the Black community was lagging behind the state’s vaccination rate. As of July 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 4% of vaccinated people in California are Black. African Americans account for 6% of California’s population.

Vaccines are now available for children aged 12 to 18.

Thurmond also added that while many parents have complained about distance learning, some African American parents say they prefer it because their children don’t have to deal with bullying or harassment.

One of the featured speakers at the online seminar was Dr. Naomi Bardach, Safe Schools for All team lead. She gave a presentation on some important facts to know about the coronavirus and how it affects children.

Bardach reminded parents that scientists and medical professionals had gathered a lot more information about the coronavirus since it first hit America more than a year ago.

In 2020, schools closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and children transitioned to distance learning conducted mainly through online classes.

However, Bardach said parents have noticed that there are some downsides to this form of instruction. She said parents have observed that their children are experiencing emotional issues such as depression and sleeplessness. Some children are missing the social interaction of being in school.

Bardach also said medical research has shown that children are less likely to catch the coronavirus than older people.

According to her, most children contract the disease from a close relative, not from fellow students or school personnel.

However, there are things that adults can do to reduce the spread of the virus among children.

“Vaccines for adults are key to prevention in kids,” she said. “Vaccines mean kids can return to the things they enjoy.”

Schools plan to return to in-class education with a host of new weapons to fight the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bardach, some of the methods the schools will use to contain the virus are testing, masks, ventilation and increased sanitation.

“Masks are very effective in preventing transmission,” she said.

There are several ways to get vaccinated, such as at-school sites, health departments and pharmacies. Schools also offer testing. The state has provided schools with $5 million to pay for rapid testing.

Another recommendation to reduce the spread of the coronavirus is to make sure sick children remain at home, said Bardach.

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