Hiram Johnson High School is currently looking for a new principal. Recently, the community held a meeting to discuss what the expectations and characteristics the district should look for when hiring the principal for the school.
Several years ago, the creation of a Central Kitchen for the school district entered into the minds of communities members in Sacramento. As proposed, the Central Kitchen is supposed to bring fresh food to SCUSD students. In this video, residents descend on Hiram Johnson High School to discuss the subject.
The young people will eventually inherit the politics of the world. According to the National Public Radio, the turnout rate of “Millennial” voters is among the lowest of all the current generations at only forty-six percent. In case you didn’t know, Millennials are young people currently between the age of twenty-two and thirty-five. To some, there appears to be a lack of confidence in the government from the young people. In fact, according to Harvard University, young people’s trust in the political process is now historically low.
One explanation for all of this could be that there is a lack of engagement in the political process when the person is a teenager. Many teens in the Sacramento City Unified School District do not know that the district is getting a new superintendent. While this could affect their life greatly, many do not know anything about it. Many do not know who the current superintendent is nor do they know the fact that the current superintendent, Jose Banda, stands to receive extra retirement money by spending time just a short amount of time here at SCUSD.
This lack of political engagement in local politics could be one of the reasons why young people are not engaged in politic as they should be. There were efforts in trying to get the youth of Sacramento to engage in the politics of the Sacramento school system. The Student Advisory Council of SCUSD held a youth town hall meeting for discussion of the selection of the new superintendent. Despite a total student turnout of less than thirty, there was a discussion between young people of how school politics should run.
“I want to make sure all that all this information will be involved in the interviewing process [for the new superintendent],” said Natalie Rosas, Student Board Member of SCUSD during a student town hall meeting. According to the Constitution, “We the people” are the one who grants the government their power. However, what happens when the people do not participate in their government?
There are thousands and thousands of students within the Sacramento Unified School District. Thousand of voice calling for different things- but how are they make sure they being heard?
On March 7th, the Sacramento City Unified School District launched a campaign that defends undocumented students from deportation in the face of ICE agents. This came along soon after the Sacramento City Unified School District Trustees began hearing from teachers, parents, and administrators that children are terrified of being deported or even their family members being deported.
In December, the board of trustees came up with a resolution declaring SCUSD schools “Safe Havens” to any immigration agency and anti-immigration rhetoric.
Board member Jessie Ryan said that the campaign aims to reassure the undocumented students in the district that going to school is completely safe and that the school is there to protect the students if need be. Ryan said that shortly after the presidential election, third graders at one school were too afraid of going outside during recess because they felt that they would be deported.
“The worst case scenario would be children afraid of showing up to school because of fear of deportation,” said Ryan.
It is estimated that in California alone there are around 2,350,000 undocumented immigrants, making up about 6% of the population. Around 1,850,000 of those undocumented immigrants are in the workforce.
This philosophy is gaining traction in other districts all over the state. San Francisco Unified School District says they are “developing a rapid response protocol to support children and families,” if law enforcement is in or around schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District voted in February to make their schools “Safe Havens” and create centers of support for undocumented families threatened by immigration.
“Personally I believe that Safe Haven schools is an amazing thing to any student that wants to extend their education,” says Angel Perez, a student at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento.“This gives them the ability to feel more comfortable accomplishing their dreams.”
For some though, the idea of a “Safe haven” school isn’t sitting well. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones believes legislation like this that would prevent local agencies from entering schools would be invalid because it conflicts with federal law.
“I have a strong belief that it violates federal law,” says Jones. “Every sheriff is going to be in a very difficult position to decide what they personally are going to do should this pass.”
“It’s important for Sacramento City Unified to reiterate that we’re focused on the education of every child who resides in our district, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and that’s what this resolution does,” said SCUSD Trustee Jay Hansen.
“I was brought in as a child by my parents,” said one undocumented SCUSD, too afraid to give their name due to the fear of deportation. “I was brought here for a better life than the one I possibly would’ve had if left in Mexico. One day my best friend and I were walking to the corner store, my best friend also being undocumented. And he told me he’d wait outside as I entered and got whatever I was going to get. I came back out a few minutes later to the sight of police detaining my best friend.”
“I just remember not being able to do anything,” the undocumented student recalled. “Just slowly walking off because I knew I would be deported as well if I did anything. It was horrible, we made eye contact. I don’t know what he could’ve done while I was in the store but that was the last time I saw my best friend.”
Only time will tell how this new legislation from the Sacramento City Unified School District will turn out.
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
In 2015, California’s high school dropout rate was at 10.7 percent while graduation rates went up. As encouraging as that is, with more than one out of every ten students dropping out, a long term solution to get that number even lower could be getting students help in school from a young age.
Sacramento Area Congregations Together, otherwise known as ACT, is looking for help from the community to pass Measure G, which aims to help those who are falling behind or at risk of dropping out.
“Measure G asks voters who live in the Sacramento City Unified School District area (which includes areas of the City of Sacramento and non-City neighborhoods) to approve a $75 parcel tax on properties in order to fund the expansion of successful programs, including art and music enrichment, services for struggling learners, and vital initiatives that make schools more positive learning environments for staff, families and children,” said Jason Weiner, a parent volunteer and organizer whose children are in the SCUSD. “The tax would end after six years, senior citizens would be exempted, and the measure will also create a Citizens Oversight Committee to ensure all funds benefit children most in need. It was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the SCUSD Board of Education.”
The measure is essential to help kids who are behind and shows the importance of early education. It also helps to reduce suspension and expulsion rates of minorities while offering an abundance of support from staff in areas other than school.
To provide light on the measure and get the community involved, volunteers and organizers for ACT are holding meetings and phone banks to get the word out. Their next meeting will be held later next month.
The community will have a huge impact on this measure, given that they are the voters. ACT needs all the help and support it can get to help struggling students get the assistance every child deserves.
“The most important thing is to share information about Measure G with your friends and colleagues who live within SCUSD boundaries,” Weiner said. “Measure G is likely to be at the bottom of a long ballot, and many people won’t know ahead of time what it is and why it is important for our students’ future.”
Community members or anybody who would like to get involved, call Sacramento ACT at (916) 389-8990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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!