Sacramento City Unifed School District
Regardless where they are, one thought plagues the minds of most aspiring principals in the nation: How can I improve my school by decreasing out-of-school suspensions?
Unlike other suspendable offenses, are as difficult to define as willful defiance. Carl Pinkston, a member of the Sacramento-based Black Parallel School Board, summarizes willful defiance as to “Willfully def(y) an authority (e.g. teacher, principals, SRO’s and school personnel) to perform their duty.”
“A student comes into class late, wearing clothing that displeases(s) the school official, non respons(ive) to a question, rolling of eyes, dropping of pencil, etc,” explains Pinkston. “In fact, it’s a question of implicit bias of authority view of a student and the failure of classroom management.”
While the subjective nature of willful defiance continues to confuse school administrators across the country, one New Jersey school seems to have found their own creative solution.
The Yorkship Family School in Camden, New Jersey has restructured some classrooms into “calm rooms”–typically used as safe spaces for anxious students–a type of group counseling room where students who are sent out of class on grounds of willful defiance can communicate their problems and learn how to better handle their frustrations in the classroom.
“After looking at the number of students being suspended at such a young age, sent home for misbehaviors in the classroom and decided that we weren’t approaching the whole child,” Linda Brown-Bartlett said in an interview with NewsWorks. “So we created this calming room which is a safe space where students can come if they’re anxious or agitated (or) starting to loose control…we’ve changed the question when they come into the calming room as to not ‘What did you do?’ but ‘How did this happen? What’s going on?’ and trying to make it a little more personal for the child.”
So if one school was able to decrease suspensions with this method, should California schools implement calm rooms as well?
“No,” says Pinkston. “It’s a very old approach to the wrong problem. First of all, Restorative Justice practices and (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports)attempts to address the underlin(ed) cause of the student acting out and develop a strategy to restore the harm done. A calming room, let(s) the student settle down, but no one in authority ask the student the fundamental question – Why?”
These two differing views on how to handle willful defiance, directing more focus on the student or the environment, are considerable input for principals who want to consider the benefits of implementing calm rooms in their schools.
On January 19th, 2017, Jose Banda announced his resignation as Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) in June of this year.
A town hall meeting was conducted at John F. Kennedy High School on Wednesday, March 1st, where parents and students were encouraged to give their input on what kind of superintendent they would like to see replace Banda.
Many of the concerns revolved around a lack of community outreach and involvement on the part of the superintendent.
“I would like to see the superintendent develop a […] strategic plan for broader and [more] insightful community involvement,” said community member Caroline Cabias.
This concern was stressed throughout the meeting by participating students and parents.
“I’ve been a student of this district for 12 years now and I only recall seeing the superintendent once,” said SCUSD student Christopher Wong. “I’d like to see a stronger connection between the students and the district.”
“I think there needs to be a better connection between the parents and the district,” said an attending parent.
Concerns were also expressed over the lack of community involvement in the process of selecting the superintendent. The possibility of creating a community panel to interview candidates for the replacement superintendent was raised, to which Special Assistant to the Board Nathaniel Browning responded:
“It’s confidentiality purposes. We cannot have three potential, five potential superintendents come because we’re only going to end up hiring one. That means others are going to have to go back to their districts.”
“You can have a written agreement that talks about ensuring confidentiality,” replied an attendant. “Our message to you, and to the board, and some of the staff is that we want to see community stakeholder involvement in the selection process.”
The comments and concerns of meeting attendants were written down as they were raised at the meeting. These notes are posted on the SCUSD website, where notes from other town hall meetings are available as well.
The meetings following the John F. Kennedy town hall are as follows:
Rosemont High School – March 7th, 2017 – 6pm to 8pm
Will C. Wood Middle School – March 8th, 2017 – 6pm to 8pm
Luther Burbank High School – March 9th, 2017 – 6pm to 8pm
American Legion High School – March 14th, 2017 – 6pm to 8pm
Bruce Tran Community, High School, Joe Mims Jr. Hagginwood Community Center, mental health awareness, mental illness, NAMI, Psychology, Sacramento, sickness, Stanford Youth Solutions, stop the stigma, students 0 Comment
When people are sick, they are supposed to go to the doctor and get treated. Whether it’s a cold or a broken arm, a doctor can prescribe medicine or put a cast on you. But what do you do if the sickness is your feeling? Many people consider themselves weak when they think they have depression or a mental illness. Let the doctors tell you otherwise.
Though it seems implausible, it is still possible in 2016 for a public school student to be kicked out the classroom because of their disabilities. While a teacher would never throw out a student because he or she had a broken arm or other such ailment, when it comes to mental health, that’s an entirely different story.
Before modern science taught us better, people with mental health problems are treated like criminals and thrown into prisons. Only recently has society tried to stop the stigma around it. Studies show now that one in five youth experience some sort of severe mental illness. They can range from depression to bipolar disorders, all of which can cause students to have an irrational emotional outburst in the classroom. It is especially true for teenagers who are just entering the “real world” and face more responsibility than had before.
Overwhelming stress can cause young people to be isolated and allow time for mental illness to develop. Emotionally, some students feel a disconnection to everything around them, causing more isolation and continuing the cycle of worsening mental health. Many schools have zero tolerance policies which can inadvertently make outburst situations worse for the students and the school itself in the long term.
“No one would ever say that someone with a broken arm or a broken leg is less than a whole person, but people say that or imply that all the time about people with mental illness,” says Elyn Saks, Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at University of Southern California Gould Law School. The Sacramento Unified School District has taken the initiative to train staff and learn what are the early signs of mental illness and how best for staff to address it. Schools should be able to create environments which make student feels safe to come out and talk their problems openly if they need to.
The district has created a Facebook page for those who wish to learn more about creating a safe environment for students which you can find here.
It’s that time of year again! SCUSD is holding their Annual LGBTQA Youth Leadership Conference.
SCUSD is holding this event on May 21st, 10am to 4pm at the Met Sacramento High School at 810 V Street.
This year’s 5th annual LGBTQA Youth Leadership Conference theme is “Be Brave, Be You.”
The conference will include workshops for any youth in the SCUSD school system from K-12th grade to teach them how to embrace themselves, be comfortable in their own skin, and learn how to treat and help other students, with an emphasis on students who identify as LGBTQA.
“I attended the conference they had (before) and met a lot of new people from different schools,” says Alina Reid, a student in John F. Kennedy High School Rainbow Alliance Club. “I think their e workshops really teach and help students of LGBTQ background to learn more about themselves and to prosper on for their rest of their lives.”
The event is free and has been planned by the youth, for the youth. The workshops will be interactive and fun for all ages and will also include pizza and drinks for the attendees of the conference. The event does not include transportation; students must provide themselves with transportation to and from event.
The event requires a permission slip for students interested in attending this year’s youth leadership conference and can be found right here. The permission slip must be emailed to Emily Herr, coordinator of the conference at: email@example.com.
It’s time to empower yourself and “Be Brave, Be You”!
Bullying has become a bigger problem in today’s society compared to a decade ago. In the TV news and in print we see stories that relate to bullying or how bullying affected the outcome of the events described. Bullying is becoming more talked about now that it has become a well-known problem, especially in schools.
The statistics prove as much, saying that in 2015 one out of every four students, which is 22% of the population, reported being bullied during the school year. In another study in 2013 on cyber bullying, 14.8% of students in high schools in the U.S. were bullied online and 90% of these students were also bullied offline.
Not only do some students not report being bullied but they also become affected in some other way. Some students suffer from anxiety, sleep difficulties, depression, begin to have academic problems, and in the worst cases, commit suicide. Students of color, disability, and LGBTQ are seen as students who suffer from bullying the most. The issue of bullying is important and should be addressed strongly to ensure a healthy school environment, mental health, and living style.
“I think people don’t think they are bullying someone at times,” says Michelle Nuenes, a student at John F. Kennedy High School. “Sometimes people can call someone a name and just trying to be funny, but that person may be affected in a different way, and this is bullying.”
In Sacramento, the issue of bullying is known and officials are constantly making sure it is addressed. In 2011, the Sacramento City School District started the “Creating Caring Schools” plan to address and give an extensive outline to address every aspect of bullying including policies, programs, and training of educators and adults. They created an anti-bullying policy for all schools in the district that states no student shall endure any harassment whatsoever, school officials should always be on the lookout for any type of bullying, the person implementing the harassment be educated on how their behavior is affecting others, and to always thoroughly investigate any problems of bullying before making any decisions of discipline. The district is also doing more like implementing bullying prevention programs at school such as providing training to adults, communities and parents about bullying and preventing it, and overall making the issue known school and district wide. SCUSD has seen a 25% decrease in bullying of students since the start of this program in their district and continue to make changes and improvements to their strategy and overall plan.
“As a teacher, I am always making sure my students are able to learn and come to school in a caring environment without bullying,” says Emily Sommer, teacher at John F. Kennedy High School. “I let my students know that bullying is wrong and to always treat others with respect, and if they ever need someone to talk to, I am always here.”
Many other programs outside the Sacramento community are reaching out to stop bullying too. The “I Am a Witness” program aims to the “silent majority” of kids who witness bullying but don’t know how to help. Their target is mostly with cyber bullying, by commenting their program’s “emoiji” of an eye whenever harassment is seen online or by hashtaging “#iamawitness” to speak up and show a person that they are doing wrong and also that someone is by the victim’s side if they’re getting bullied. They also have emoijis to spark a conversation for maybe a person who they saw someone being bullied and how to lend a helping hand and eye. Programs like these are small but can make a big difference for one or many people in need of support against bullying.
No one should ever be a victim of bullying. Always speak out against bullying, lend a hand to anyone you see being bullied, and think twice before you say something that may affect someone negatively.
May 4th is International Anti-Bullying Day and people are encouraged to wear a pink shirt to let others know that they stand against bullying!
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Ronnie Swinburn A Place Called Sacramento, Building Health Communities, California Endowment, change starts with you, community volunteering, harvest sacramento, Health Happens Here, Health Happens Here in Neighborhoods, Health Happens in Schools, Healthy Foods, NNC Stories, Sacramento Charter Hig, SCUSD, soil born farms, Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project 0 Comment
On Saturday, March 26th, Sacramento Charter High-School in alliance with Soil Born Farms hosted a event called Harvest Sacramento where organizations, local people and youth of all ages were encouraged to come and pair up into teams and head into the neighborhoods. The featuring neighborhoods were North Oak Park, Midtown, East Sacramento, and many more from all over Sacramento County.
Each group had a specific neighborhood to harvest from and carpooled to the many registered local homes. Then the owner of the property which the tree was on was able to decide whether they wanted to keep or donate all of their fruit from their overbearing trees to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services for those in need of fresh fruit.
Harvest Sacramento also gives anyone who participates take home boxes of different type of citrus like grapefruit, oranges, lemons and tangerines for their own selves, families, friends and or community centers. With the efforts of everyone who collaborated on this day during this recent event, they had reached the amount of a little more than 4,000 lbs of fruit.
“I’ve lead individual harvest groups and have participated in the picking its exciting,” said Melanie Weir, program participant. “Whenever I come out I always meet interesting and awesome people that are inspirational.”
On Thursday, March 31st, there was a meeting of youth at Youth City Hall in Downtown Sacramento. Its purpose was simple- to gather the youth of Sacramento, inform them of Measure Y, and in hopes, gain their support to then spread the word of the new measure.
The meeting encompassed about 20-25 youth to hear the wording of the new measure. The youth were very involved in asking questions and making sure they understood the measure before involving themselves in the support of the measure.
The measure will be presented in this year’s June election and attempt to create f the Sacramento Children’s Fund, an on-going source of revenue dedicated to youth programming in the City of Sacramento. The goal of the fund is to increase the chances that city’s children and youth succeed in school, get careers, and prosper in life.
“This measure seems really important and I know will be good in the long run, I’m hoping I can persuade my friends to also volunteers their time to spreading the word of the measure, and getting this thing passed” said by Nick Samos, an attendee of the youth meeting.
The main reason of creating a separate fund is because only 4% of the city’s general welfare is used for youth programming. This amount comes out to a low number of $17,181,734 for use of the whole youth of the city of Sacramento. In this spending most of the money is used to help children in the age range of 6-12. However, statistics still show that the youth is not getting the help they need. Nationally, the poverty rate for children is 29% and Sacramento stands at 24%. Sacramento’s poverty rate is also double of both San Francisco’s and Oakland’s rate. In the 2013-2014 school year, 37% of SCUSD students were reported as being truant at least one time during the academic year. The statistics are high and not in any good way at all.
Measure Y stands on adding two new things to the Sacramento city code. The first is to first establish a children’s fund to provide needed services and programming to youth ages 0-24. The children’s fund will not replace the money already being given from the general fund, but will be there to maintain and support the money in the children’s fund. The second states that money for the children’s fund will be received by taxation of marijuana cultivation. In this sense, every person engaged in legal marijuana cultivation business or manufacturing business in the county of Sacramento shall pay an annual business operation tax. This tax will be 5% of each dollar of gross receipts for any reported period, with all revenue being deposited into the children’s fund. The use of the fund revenue will be used for up to 10% for administration, 5% for evaluation, and 85% for direct services to the youth. If passed in the June election the new chapter and sections of the city charter will be active as of January 1, 2017.
The supporters of Measure Y are reaching out to the youth of Sacramento to spread the word of the new measure to communities all over the city. They know that since the fund is for the youth that they should be the main group of individuals to present the measure to people of Sacramento. In November 2014, only 8.1% of eligible voters ages 18-24 in the Sacramento County actually voted. In saying this, the supporters know that at the polls the youth will not be of a great factor in passing the measure. They hope to target voters of the older category for a bigger push in the June election.
The meeting presented three ways for the youth to spread the word- phone calls, door-to-door, and social media. The Sacramento Youth City Council, supporters of the measure, are going to be supplying materials needed for the youth who want to be involved in spreading the word. After training the involved youth, they will set up phone banking times during weekdays and weekends along with door-to-door groups that will carpool to certain communities until of June.
The youth council is hoping for more youth supporters and volunteers to help spread the word in the short time period before June.
Some students at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento feel like they are being judged unfairly to their peers. Their reason for this feeling is un-uniformed dress code enforcement across race, gender, and size guidelines.
Schools with un-uniformed dress codes seem to have a strict dress code in order to control what the students wear on school grounds. However, looking at JFK’s own dress code rules and violations, one can see right away that female dress code is much more enforced over the male dress code. Approximately 75% of the dress code refers to clothing that is usually worn by female students. As seen in articles by The Atlantic and Huffington Post, many states across the U.S. are seeing this same inequality between the genders.
“It’s more of a distraction for staff to pull girls out of class or stop them in the hallways because they aren’t ‘dressed to code’,” says Jillian Lauderdale, a student at John F. Kennedy.“Girls miss class and end up having to wear P.E. clothes if they aren’t able to go home or have a change of clothes delivered to them. The true distraction and embarrassment is to the student when they’re wearing P.E. clothes around school. When asked why I am wearing such clothes, I truthfully respond I’m dressing for the weather.”
Weather seems to be a factor in why female students at the school just can’t dress to the code. In hot weather, one could see that female students at JFK school often wear shorts and tank tops. However, tank tops with thin straps and shorts shorter than finger length, when arms are put at side, are against dress code.
“It’s definitely not equal in anyway,” says Dominique Maestas, another Kennedy student. “If a tall girl wore the same length shorts as a short girl then only the tall girl would be dress coded because her legs are longer making the shorts look shorter on her. I once got dress coded for wearing a skirt with tights underneath, and there was a girl literally wearing the same outfit as me and got away with it because she was shorter in height compared to me. I also don’t understand the “no shoulders showing” rule. How can someone’s shoulders be so distracting to anyone’s learning?”
Female students seem to face stricter dress code guidelines and even face size inequality in a dress code that is already strict. Not only is there size and gender inequality, but some students feel like race is also a factor in the dress code.
“I know that if I come to school in an all red shirt or a blue shirt, I’m going to be stopped right away. It’s because I’m black,” says Jamari Jones. “I see white guys around school wearing all red from top to bottom, but since they don’t look like a thug or aren’t black, they get away with what their wearing.”
“We try to enforce the dress code equally among all students on campus,” said school administration when asked to comment on this story. “We can’t stop everyone that comes to school breaking the dress code.”
Some students at John F Kennedy have tried voicing their opinions to the administration, but say that they have been pushed away and given reasons for why the dress code stands that do not satisfy some student’s ears.
“I believe that dress codes will have to change sooner or later, especially with fashion and how clothes are being made and tailored, clothing that follows the dress code exactly will be harder to find,” says Michelle Vue. “Not only that, with all the inequality that students face along the lines of the dress code, the administration will get tired and will have to change its rules.”