On Saturday, October 6th, the Black Parallel School Board held a forum at the Fruitridge Community Collaborative for candidates seeking office for the Sacramento Unified School District Board.
The “Building Healthy Communities” campaign was first launched by The California Endowment in 2010. The purpose of the campaign was to “change the narrative”and transform 14 distressed communities in California into places where all people thrive. The California Endowment pledged $1 billion to the campaign and planned for it to run 10 years, ending around 2020. “One extraordinary success was the campaign to reform school discipline policies that were throwing many thousands of kids out of school and severely jeopardizing their future prospects and, as result, their long-term health,” said Suzanne Bohan in her book, Twenty Years of Life: Why the Poor Die Earlier and How to Challenge Inequity. “It also put them into the “school-to-prison” pipeline, as youth not in school are more likely to end up entangled in the criminal justice system, which proves hard to escape.”
The introduction of the campaign helped to pass 11 new state laws and decreased student suspensions in California schools by almost 400,000 annually. One of the Endowment’s allies in the campaign, “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids”, helped them change school rules to reduce crime and helping prevent students from ending up in the juvenile justice system. Their plan to do so was to reduce high school dropout rates as the data often goes hand-in-hand. With this plan in place, they decided to hold a virtual rally so that youth from all over could join in and witness it. It ended up being a huge success with young people realizing that they were not alone and there were people out there looking out for them.
After a couple of years, the Endowment pushed for a statewide ban suspensions related to willful defiance, defined as “disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of school staff.” This had led to things such as suspending students for not listening or not being prepared, clearly not things that require that severe of a punishment. In 2014, Governor Brown passed a bill restricting willful defiance discipline. While not preventing it completely, it was still a huge change and was estimated to keep approximately 10,000 students in school each year.
For more information on the Building Healthy Communities campaign, visit the California Endowment website at www.calendow.org
At McClatchy Park, on April, Saturday 14th, a celebration of Oak Park schools will be held. It’s a free event, with free haircuts for kids. There will be live music, food, and resources for the community, as well as performances by students in the Oak Park area.
This festival is meant to be fun for the whole family, and it encourages stronger communities that know each other better. The schools and students of Oak Park have had many accomplishments and successes. This event recognizes the hard work of Oak Park students and teachers alike.
Vendors will be on hand to help the community recognize some organizations that can help them. Hot dogs will also be cooked for the celebrations, with help from community firefighters. So far, over 700 people are planning to attend.
As Oak Park grows and strengthens as a community, more and more opportunities for socialization appear. The celebration of the schools and students of Oak Park is a great way to connect with neighbors and to support the local community. Plus, it gives students the opportunity to go out in a safe environment and socialize with each other.
Those who want to attend should come to McClatchy Park, on 3500 5th Avenue in Sacramento. The event will be on Saturday, April 14th, from 12:00pm-3:00pm.
As a self imposed bookworm, I have no qualms about locking myself in a room devouring a trashy YA series until my eyes dry up. As a matter of fact, it’s become a sort of routine of mine. Though aside from an unhealthy obsession with reading (if you can even call reading an obsession) my mom drags me out of the Batcave every once in awhile to do things like eat and, my least favorite thing, socialize.
Socializing usually comes in the form of school. I’ve had a very unhealthy case of Senoritis since freshman year. Despite sharing classes with these kids for four years, I still point and grunt at whomever I’m referring to in class when I don’t know their name, and they do the same. There was never a need to get to know anyone, so I didn’t. We all were just strangers who had to sit next to each other and occasionally speak at one another, that is, until the clock strikes about 12:45, when my English class begins.
My teacher, Mr. Durant, has a very unconventional style of teaching. In his class, he likes to throw out random provocative ideas and watch his students pounce on them like lions with raw meat. Every day it feels more like a cage fight than a classroom and everyone is on edge to jump up and challenge what the other person has said. So usually, I stay quiet.
One Thursday, Durant had us separate ourselves into different sides of the room.
Left side to agree; right side to disagree. He then turned around and wrote on the board in big block letters, “All love is good love.”
Everyone in the room moved, some of us even climbing over furniture to pick a side, and then we spoke up.
In our little space, we were able to delve into really personal topics. We discussed break ups, domestic violence, self love, depression, family, anything that even touched the topic of love. Most of us laughed, but some of us cried too, though they were quickly comforted by so-in-so who was just a faceless classmate minutes before.
Pretty soon I realized that Mr Durant wasn’t guiding the conversation anymore, but just letting it flow. He threw in the occasional “that’s deep”, to show he was still paying attention but for the whole period the time was ours.
At Sacramento Charter, the students have a bit of a reputation. We are seen as hard and rowdy. We party too hard and get into fights constantly. There are very rare moments though where our culture shines through and despite our many traits, our sense of community outshines them all.
United Way’s Week Of Caring brought together more than 1,500 local residents together to spend some time caring for their community.
On Friday June 20th, the non-profit organization Girls on the Rise produced their first annual conference to gain additional support for their cause of promoting healthy living in Sacramento.
“Joining girls on the rise was really amazing,” says Marilyn Wong, member of Girls on the Rise. “It’s a really great experience and you meet other people and open up your shell to get outside your comfort zone. I hope that the future girls on the rise can expand our recommendations and also work on them so we can actually see the positive changes in our community.”
Not only are the girls striving to benefit their community, but they are bettering themselves in the process as well.
“My favorite part of planning the conference was spending time with young women of like minds. I believe I grew a lot mentally. I wasn’t able to talk a lot in public but now I’m a lot more comfortable around people,” says Nancy Lor, member of Girls on the Rise.
The youth planned conference was day long and provided attendees with the opportunity to participate in workshops, listen to guest speakers and learn more about the mission of Girls on the Rise. Workshops focused on healthy living with lessons on nutrition from a Ubuntu Green representative and life and fitness tips from La Familia Counseling center. Following the workshops was a presentation explaining what Girls on the Rise really is and their plans to make a difference in the community. Issues the young women hope to address include the lack of nutrition in school lunches and unfair treatment in schools.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved,” Maddie Felenz, youth mentor. “There are so many resources out there that people aren’t utilizing like supplemental food programs. There is so much funding out there and specifically for the school lunch program and raising awareness to utilize those funds mo0re in relation to the school lunch program and just bring healthier lunches to the kids who need them.”
The girls in this program have taken the reigns and worked diligently throughout the year to put on the conference and have many potential Girls on the Rise and adults inspired by their work.
“It’s amazing seeing these young women stand up and lead this conference for young women put on by young women and in that vein I think it was very successful,” says Wendy Petko, Executive Director of Girls on the Rise. “They presented their plan for the upcoming year and we were able to generate additional interest for additional participants into the program for next year. We are looking forward to year two of the program.”
Music programs in schools have suffered since the 2008 recession. California schools were hit particularly hard, with over $109 million deviated from the state’s education budget and 50% of the state’s school music programs shutting down. However, despite these challenges, Sacramento students still work to fulfill their love of music by making their own and sharing the love with others.
With the school year coming to a close, school districts in California are assembling and submitting their Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPS). In order for these plans to properly take effect, they need to be turned in for processing by July 1st, 2014.
The Local Control Accountability Plans are expected to explain how the extra money received through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) would help maximize student achievement. The plans will describe the district’s goals and strategies for the next three years. A budget must also be created in order to connect these funds to the set goals.The district will gain more funds for every student it has that is low-income, and English learner, or a foster youth.
“Stakeholders can also compare their own goals and priorities to those reflected in the LCAP, as well as ensure that the Plan addresses all 8 State Priority Areas,” said Mary Lou Fulton, Senior Program Manager of the California Endowment. “Our hope is that our LCFF website and the information shared there can help stakeholders read, assess and understand their district’s LCAP and think about what school success means in their community.”
These plans are expected to meet the 8 priority areas for schools, which include student achievement, implementation of common core standards, course access, student engagement, basic services, school climate, and more.
Next school year, the Local Control Funding Formula is expected to take off, providing more funds to schools with students who have additional academic needs. During the course of the next 8 years, the Local Control Funding Formula is expected to give an additional $15 billion to schools in California, with most of the funds benefiting school districts that support students with high-needs.
For more information about the Local Control Accountability Plans, you can visit healthhappenshere.com.
Since the 1970’s, the America’s school system has grown in many ways. Technology, teaching techniques, and even popular culture have also undergone drastic changes during the last four decades. However, not all of these changes concerning the nation’s educational system have been positive.
Recent studies have shown that the moment a student enters middle school, their chance of receiving an out-of-school suspension increases from 2.4% to 11%.
According to dignityinschools.org, the suspension rate of students throughout America is more than double that of the rate in 1974. Between 2002 and 2006 alone, the amount of student suspensions increased by 250,000.
The only thing more disturbing than the rapidly rising number of nationwide suspensions is the details.
According to a study done by the University of California, Los Angeles, African American students today are facing a 24.3% chance of being suspended. In 1972, that risk was only a total of 11.8%. Since then, 36% of all African American middle school students have been suspended at least once. However, in the exact same time period, white students have only experienced a 1.1% increase in school suspension rates. This data seems to suggest that secondary school discipline may have become extremely flawed in recent years.
Most people agree that school discipline is needed to maintain a stable working environment for both students and teachers. However, many people don’t know that even just one suspension can increase a teen’s likelihood to drop out of high school by 16%. Students who have been suspended three or more times during their sophomore year are five times more likely to drop out than a student who has not been suspended. Schools with high suspension rates tend to display lower academic performances than those who use school suspension as a last resort for bad behavior.
At the end of the day, suspensions do a lot more than deprive a student of a day or two of important learning time. Schools across the United States would most likely benefit greatly from trying to keep even their most difficult students in school rather than suspending them.
According to a survey conducted on behalf of the California Endowment, Californians say mental health care and emergency preparedness are the best ways to prevent school violence. Mental Health is serious issue that has been swept under the rug for many years in California. Every 15.8 minutes we loose a life to suicide due to untreated mental illnesses.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young adults ages 15-24, and it’s also the 11th leading cause in Americans overall. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, out of the 36.8 million residents in the United States, 1.8 million adults live with serious mental illnesses and about 422,000 children live with a serious mental health condition.
When it comes to mental health the California Department of Education says that it provides strategies, resources, and training in psychological and mental health issues, including coping with tragedy, crisis intervention and prevention, school psychology and suicide prevention. However, California ranks rather poorly when it comes to providing a decent ratio of counselors to students in schools. The No Child Left Behind Act recommends one counselor for every 250 students, and the California Board of Education recommends one counselor per every 350 students. Still, most schools in the state average 1,600 to 2,000 students and 2-4 counselors.
“No trainings are provided for counselors by our school district,” says a high school counselor who would rather be left nameless. “And if we want trainings we have to provide it ourselves,” the counselor added.
“How many counselors are available at your high school, and what do you need as a counselor?” were some of the questions two high school counselors were asked. Their response was “There are two full-time counselors and one part time counselor at our high school,” said one counselor assisting students with last names beginning H thru R. “Professional development and with additional staff we would have the ability to have small case load and spend more times with each and every student”, the counselor also stated.
“I think some more updated technology would be a big help when it come to assisting and working with caseloads,” said the other counselor assisting students with the last names A thru G.
With the data collected from the survey, 96% of California voters support training school staff in emergency response, including 78% who strongly support it. While 50% support putting armed police officers in every school, 23% strongly support it and only 31% support allowing teachers trained in firearms to carry guns on school grounds, 16% strongly. Other safety measures were metal detectors and additional security cameras.
In response to this data one counselor said that they “think that metal detectors would pose more as a deterrent then as a preventive measure, for the students that would randomly forget things in their bags once you put drug sniffing dogs or metal detector in it becomes kind of like an ‘oh! I am not going to be as randomly forgetful about things like that.’ However I think that the hardcore student who thinks they have to carry a gun for safety is still going to carry and they will find a way around the detectors.”
Both of the counselors agreed that they would be safer with more training versus with a weapon. Hopefully the community can use this study’s data to spark a change, to help close that gap between schools, school districts and the California Department of Education to find the best ways to prevent school violence and promote mental health. We should strive to be a nation of proactivity rather then reactivity.
For more information about mental health and the survey that was conducted please check out the links below.