Racial Issues are Alive and Well in San Diego Unified

July 7, 2020

Students from Patrick Henry High School in the San Diego Unified School District are amusing one another by posting pictures in blackface.  This, while much of the nation is experiencing a moment of consciousness about the true extent of racial injustice in our society, and taking to the streets in support of their fellow human beings.  Clearly, the killing of Mr George Floyd is not what is in the consciousness of San Diego Unified students when it comes to African-Americans; instead, it is the mockery of the minstrel show.

Perhaps one of the reasons these students lack consciousness of their actions is that the district continues to employ (and promote!) teachers who themselves find blackface a matter of amusement, like Dean Schmidt at Serra High.

Racist incidents are going to continue to show their hideous faces until we address the systemic racism in our schools.

Cindy Marten, however, continues her crusade to pretend we live in a “post-racial” society and that she runs a “post-racial” school district.  Why else would she have abolished the Race, Human Relations and Advocacy Department?

Mr Kevin Beiser, you are trustee for all the youth in the district.  We ask that you rise to this occasion and show some bold leadership.  We ask that you call the Superintendent onto the carpet and hold her accountable.

Mr Beiser, this superintendent tried to sweep this incident under the rug, as she has so often done in the past.  This superintendent has shuffled her organization chart nearly 20 times, and never brought much in the way of diversity to the decision-making table.  Instead of addressing each new problem, she merely crows that much louder that there are no problems, in hopes of never having to make real change.

Also, Mr Beiser, while we note the school’s statement regarding its name, we invite you to consider the words of high school student Mr Dino Jones, when he called for the renaming of his own “Patrick Henry High School”: It’s a direct contradiction to speak out for freedom for some and still own slaves.  It is time to change the school’s name; we do not think it appropriate to operate a school named after a man who said “Give me liberty or give me death” but refused to grant liberty to others when it was his to give.  That is hypocrisy, not heroism.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Racism at Serra High

June 30, 2020

Re: Racism at Serra High

Safe educational environments for Black students are increasingly rare. Equally scarce is the safety of all Blacks amid tyrant policing within their community environments. 

With tensions pressing from each angle, we are now witnessing the tipping point: the near collapse of a school and justice system that have thrived and benefited from the suppression of black excellence and existence. 

The suppression has its methodical roots in racism and oppression. Historically, the educational system has served as the stage to blindside and initiate black children with their first racist experiences. Here, they also experience the candidly critical and degrading lens in which their blackness is viewed by educators. 

The educators who operate in these suppression tactics clearly have not developed the qualifications and intentions to educate black students. Conversely, they have also not evolved to the highest educational standards as educators prior to licensing. California Teaching Credential standards maintain that an educator practice a mindset that connects with, teaches, and draws the best qualities out of all students with high regard to their culture and individuality. 

The California Education Code, the California Department of Education, and the San Diego Unified School District all publish regulations, policies, and procedures prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and intimidation in California Public Schools. However, due to lack of enforcement of these laws, the NAACP receives an ongoing flow of complaints that describe an array of legal violations in the learning environment. Several complaint investigations reveal that San Diego Unified School District knowingly inflicts harm on black students and their communities with various inequitable practices, and by allowing perpetual educator misconduct directed against blacks. Many complaints describe schools as protected hubs with pockets of the racism echoed in societal climates at large.

In such climates, black students walk to class through the halls of injustice, hoping to proceed unscathed. However, experience tells them the further they proceed in their education, the higher the likelihood of experiencing an educator practicing overt or covert racism.  Here, black students realize the cost of integration is being immersed in the toxicity of racist Educators. Here, black students are blinded and asphyxiated by smokescreens (of “educational equality”) & mirrors (reflecting oppressive acts).  

We take an unrelenting stance against such practices and hold every educator and staff member accountable for ALL actions against black students and their communities. We call for swift and immediate action regarding the unresolved case at Serra High School. 

Let the record reflect that in 2013, three educators made a conscious decision to paint their faces with dark brown paint to mimic a black bobsledder at a social engagement. Let the record also reflect that dressing in “black face” mirrors the disgraceful legacy and practice where white performers painted their face black to mimic characters that demeaned and dehumanized African Americans. Let the record further reflect, to date, hundreds of thousands of black students, black families, black educators and staff, the black community and countless other members of the public have also reviewed the educators pose and smile for the cameras as they celebrated in “black face”. 

We ALL observed their “black face” and the damaging after-effects.

The Educators decisions to bask in “black face” was a direct violation of: 

  • Our Human rights
  • Our Civil rights 
  • California Standards of the Teaching Profession 
  • Teacher’s code of ethics
  • Teacher’s code of conduct
  • California Education law 
  • California Dept of Education policy and procedures
  • San Diego Unified District administrative policies and procedures 
  • U.S. Dept of Education policy and procedures
  • Abuse of Power
  • Public Trust

Though the public has called for the resignation of all three of the educators that posed in “black face” and the public has initiated an active petition with nearly 800 of 1,000 signatures signed, only two of the educators have resigned, leaving one of the culprits at Serra High School.  This means, for the past 7 years, the safety of all students, especially black students, has been compromised and the educational environment was tainted. The inaction of district officials has allowed Joseph Schmidt to linger in an educational environment, making it easy to inflict further harm. We understand that Mr Schmidt is once again the subject of complaints from Serra High students.

The NAACP stands with the public in outrage and again call for action to eradicate racism on every school campus, including Serra High School, a Title 1 school.  

We demand the U.S. Dept of Education’s Office of Civil rights to take action. We call for action from the California Department of Education to audit the practices mentioned and the use of Title 1 funds at Serra High. We also call CDE to audit the other Title 1 schools within SDUSD (again) due to the many failures to take adequate actions against documented racism against black students. We call for the resignation of upper management and other SDUSD school officials who have allowed this matter, along with other racially charged atrocities against blacks to go unresolved under their watch. We DEMAND you uphold the applicable U.S, State, Federal, and all other laws set forth to protect our children. Enforcing the Safe Place to Learn Act is a fair place to start. 

Sincerely,

A Concerned Parent and Member of the NAACP San Diego Branch Education Committee 

NAACP San Diego Branch Signs on to Petition Drive for Change at Cajon Valley Unified School District

Juneteenth 2020

The NAACP San Diego Branch Executive Committee voted to partner with community organizations to sponsor a petition drive for equity in CVUSD schools.  The petition reads in part:

Schools should be the center of the community, and therefore should be reflective and representative of the entire community; however, the current state of our district does not meet our community’s diverse needs. Cajon Valley has the third highest expulsion rate of black students in the county. 8.2% of our black students have been suspended at least once compared to just 3.2% of our white students, even though black students make up just 6% of the district population and white students make up 47%. According to the most recent state testing data, black students disproportionately scored lower in both the English and math compared to their peers. The percentage of black students who did not meet standards in English Language Arts is 12% higher than the overall district average and 14% higher than the overall district average in mathematics. As educators who are in the classroom and learning environments with these students daily, we believe that this disparity is due to a lack of culturally relevant and responsive teaching practices and resources. Ignoring the needs of our black community does not put Cajon Valley at the forefront of innovative school districts, and it does not adequately prepare black children to participate in the World of Work.

The petition goes on to recommend 11 specific actions to achieve the equity that Cajon Valley students are promised by law.  The NAACP San Diego Branch urges its members to sign this petition, reproduced in full below (or visit the original at https://linktr.ee/cvusdpetition.)

To sign, please visit: https://forms.gle/yomFJXizWQNkRVbX8

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Our 2020 ACT-SO Olympians

We couldn’t be prouder of our 2020 ACT-SO Olympians!

This has been a very difficult year for so many reasons. Let us stop, though, and look at the accomplishments of our ACT-SO Olympians in the midst of it all!

This year, we have three Gold winners; Eryn (Painting and Filmmaking), Loba (Classical Musical Instrument) and Sherwin (Contemporary Musical Instrument.) They will go on to compete in the national ACT-SO competition in July over Zoom.

Sherwin also took home a Silver (Written Poetry) and a Bronze (Classical Musical Instrument), and Eryn earned a Silver (Contemporary Vocal) as well.

Joshua scored a double Silver (Photography and Computer Science), and Tracee netted a Bronze (Contemporary Vocal.)

Finally, Precious earned high praise from our judges for her written poetry, even if she is not quite old enough yet to formally compete.

Please give these kids a (virtual) round of applause. Also, please consider donating to ACT-SO or volunteering with our ACT-SO Committee, so that we can attract, enrich, celebrate and reward even more students next ACT-SO season!

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Notice: Child & Family Strengthening Advisory Board Meeting

County of San Diego
Department of Human Resources
(619) 531-5123

The meeting will be conducted virtually through Zoom (Zoom Webinar Details below). Members of the community will be able to view the meeting and have an opportunity to speak during public comment and at the end of each agenda item. When you call or login to the meeting, you will be on mute and if you wish to comment during public comment or on a specific agenda item, Sandra McBrayer will request you use the raise hand function to indicate you would like to address the Advisory Board. When it’s your turn to address the Advisory Board I will call your name and unmute you.

If you plan on calling in using the telephone option but will not have the meeting pulled up on a computer and would like to speak during public comment or on a specific agenda item, you must email me by 8:30 AM on Monday, June 8, 2020 indicating the agenda item(s) you would like to speak on as well as the telephone number you will be calling from. When it’s your turn to address the Advisory Board, I will indicate it’s your turn by using the last four digits of your telephone number and unmuting your phone call. 

Zoom Webinar Information  
When: Jun 8, 2020 at 10:00 AM 
Topic: Child & Family Strengthening Advisory Board 

Please click the link below to join the webinar: 
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87467888098

Or Telephone:
US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 
Webinar ID: 874 6788 8098

Agenda_Child-and-Family-Strengthening-Advisory-Board_06.08.2020

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Westview High, Slavery, and Racism

May 25, 2020

Last week, Westview High students expressed their wish that the Confederate States of America had won the war to preserve slavery, so that they would have personal slaves to do their work.  Here is the text of an exchange on social media:

god i really f – – – – – – wish the south won the civil war. i wish i had a f – – – – – – slave to do my work for me.
same.

We know about this thanks to Westview senior Nena Lockhart, who has had enough of the racism that persists in our society.  She took to social media to say: “This is not funny and age is not an excuse for this kind of behavior.  We cannot go around believing that racism doesn’t exist or only exists in the Deep South, because it still exists everywhere.”

We cannot agree with Ms Lockhart more, and want her to know that we support her wholeheartedly.

Such comments display an utter indifference to the practice of kidnapping, torture, rape, imprisonment and murder that has been the lot of African-Americans.  That injustice continues today in the form of segregated neighborhoods and schools, racial health and wealth disparities, racially biased policing and racially disparate outcomes of our “justice” system; not to mention the continued presence in our communities of racial hatred, such as the Klan hood and swastikas recently on display in Santee.

These are not problems with one-time solutions..  They require sustained, focused efforts to make our students understand the true nature and horror of racism, recognize its continued danger to human beings and society, and speak and act with compassion.

African-American students have suffered long enough from their uneducated and ill informed peers.  We call on Westview High School and the Poway Unified School District to show the same courage and initiative Ms Lockhart did in bringing this matter into the open.  We call on them to take this matter every bit as seriously as it deserves.  We call on them to do their duty to educate students properly regarding issues of race, and to:

  • Institute an ongoing program of implicit bias training to students, teachers and staff.
  • Teach history according to a curriculum that gives proper weight to both the contributions and the suffering of the African-Americans who laid the foundations of a prosperity they were not allowed to enjoy.

Should they fail in this, we call on the Poway community to make their school board members pay a heavy price in the November elections.  It’s time to truly heal our racial divide, so we can move forward together to address the problems our nation faces.

We stand ready to aid the school and district, if it stands ready to take meaningful action, and root out the ugliness, not just paper it over with soothing words.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Brown v Board of Education: 66 Years Ago Today

Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement, and helped establish the precedent that “separate-but-equal” education and other services were not, in fact, equal at all.

2020 SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATES DEBATE- SAN DIEGO

We received the following announcement:

The PSRO (Parent-Student-Resident Organization) will be hosting a virtual 2020 debate for the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education candidates. Please find the meet the candidates’ information attached.

The goal of this public debate on Education is to listen to our 2020 Board of Education candidates and have a meaningful and respectful dialogue among parents, students, and residents about who will best represent their voices at the SDUSD Board of Education. The candidates will be answering and discussing Area-specific and District-wide questions.

Friday May 29th, 2020
4 – 6:30PM

Please join us through Zoom, Facebook, or conference call through the link below.

Please RSVP and submit your Area-specific and District-wide questions.  https://bit.ly/psro-debate2020

TRANSLATION WILL BE PROVIDEDRSVP (See languages)

Join through:

1.     ZOOM: Join Zoom Meeting 
https://zoom.us/j/98707717072

Meeting ID: 987 0771 7072 
              One tap mobile 
             +16699006833,,98707717072# US (San Jose) 
            +12532158782,,98707717072# US (Tacoma)

2.     Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/543904169590137

MEET-THE-CANDIDATES

District-Only SDUSD Elections Need to Comply with 2001 CVRA

May 13, 2020

TO: San Diego City Council Rules Committee

Council President Georgette Gomez, Rules Committee Chair
Councilmember Barbara Bry, Rules Committee Vice Chair
Councilmember Chris Ward, District 3
Councilmember Monica Montgomery, District 4

FROM: Brian Bonner, First Vice President, NAACP San Diego Branch

SUBJECT: DISTRICT-ONLY ELECTIONS FOR SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS

The NAACP San Diego Branch strongly supports the proposal to ask the voters to amend the City Charter to require district-only elections for members of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education. Enactment of this proposal would bring the San Diego Unified School District into compliance with California state law commonly called The California Voter Rights Act. This act requires local elected bodies to hold district elections when certain conditions are met.  Although the city of San Diego is a charter city, a 2017 opinion by the California Attorney General found that “The California Voter Participation Rights Act applies to charter cities, and to local school districts whose elections are governed by city charters.”  

At its core, the NAACP has championed civil rights, especially the right to vote, throughout its history. The NAACP took direct action and participated in legislative and judicial efforts to obtain and protect the right to vote. Congress and President Johnson enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to the years of oppression and in response action by the NAACP and its partners in the fight for civil rights. That fight continues as voter suppression efforts continue unabated.

The California Voting Rights Act responded to conditions in California that denied civil and voting rights to protected classes.  As recently as 2017, the NAACP California-Hawaii State/State Area Conference recognized the importance of improving the education system for the African-American community by working with elected officials, policy makers, superintendents, school board members and community leaders.  It adopted a resolution that included the following statement “Resolved that the California NAACP communicates this resolution to the California legislature to urge them to create policy that would make school boards in the state to be a better representation of the students and citizens in the state.

Article VI of the San Diego city charter provides that voters in each of the five sub-districts choose the top two candidates for a runoff that includes all of the voters within SDUSD boundaries. Candidates in sub-districts must reside in those sub-districts. All other matters regarding SDUSD are subject to state law.

Several events and trends have converged to raise the issue of changing the manner in which SDUSD elections are conducted. In May 2017, the San Diego County Grand Jury issued a report recommending that the San Diego City Council place measures on the ballot to amend the City Charter to provide for district-only elections, and make other changes.

In addition, school districts across the state, including school districts in San Diego County, have moved to elect school board trustees in district-only elections in response to the requirements of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA). Rather than go to the expense of defending lawsuits they would likely lose, these districts move forward to change from at-large elections to district elections. For the most part, these school districts are governed by the general laws of the State of California. As noted above, In July 2017, the California Attorney General issued an opinion that CVRA applies to charter cities and school districts whose elections are governed by city charters.

The time has come for elections to the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education to become district-only elections. The NAACP San Diego Branch proudly joins with other organizations seeking to change the City Charter to create district-only elections for school board trustees. Again, we ask you to place this proposal on the ballot in November.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Brian Bonner, First Vice President
NAACP San Diego Branch