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

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Grantwriter Needed

The NAACP San Diego Branch relies on memberships, donations and fundraising for much of our operating budget. We also receive grants from some very generous organizations, including Qualcomm, SDG&E, and the NAACP Local Action Fund.

COVID-19 means there is less money in everyone’s pocket, and fundraising activities are limited. We are actively seeking additional grants, and could really use a grantwriter who would like to donate their skills and time to help us capture some dollars for out Branch.

If you’d like to lend a pen to the cause of Civil Rights in San Diego, please write [email protected].

Thank you!

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CINDY MARTEN?

May 8, 2020

The impact of the Covid-19 epidemic has given us all time to reflect on life in general.  We have all been required to do things that at times were difficult and out of the ordinary.  However, one area that most families had in common was that of  balancing their budgets to make ends meet.  We had to cut back on non-essentials to feed our families and pay our bills.  And we did just that!

It seems incomprehensible for the SDUSD to send out a memo on April 19 to site leaders stating: “Recently, it was brought to the attention of the Area Superintendents and the district Executive Cabinet that there are some site/district budgets that are not balanced.  This means that some sites/departments have budgets that are over/under budget.  The purpose of this memo is to share a reality of our budgetary process that is impacting our district budget”.  The last comment reads; “If it is determined that a leader has not been responsible in their budgetary leadership possible disciplinary action may be considered.”  

The school board continues to BEG our community for more and more Prop money every single year to balance their over-spent budget.   The Superintendent adds more administrative positions to her budget each year and the school board approves these positions.  These are NOT teaching positions.  They are positions that are created by the Superintendent to do her job for her while she galivants off to Sacramento or wherever to promote herself.   Records requests prove that she is just not on-site doing her job.  Is it any wonder our district continues to run in the RED every year?  Why has there been NO disciplinary action for the superintendent and/or her cabinet?   

 The role of the Area Superintendent has many functions.   One of the prime responsibilities of this group is to ensure that each and every site has a balanced budget.  That budget then goes to the school board for approval.  This happens every year around February/March.  It now becomes apparent from this memo, that the Area Superintendents along with the Superintendent and the school board are not doing their job!   Not only this year, but every year Superintendent Marten has been in “charge” because this district has been financially insolvent.  

As a community we are expected to do our part and budget our homes accordingly.  We expect nothing less from our school district.  

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

The Forgotten Ones

April 20, 2020

During this Covid-19 epidemic, the San Diego Unified School District has been touting its accolades via every social media outlet that will listen.  The desired effect is for our communities to believe that Superintendent Marten and the school board really do care about our students. This seems unbelievable based on several factors that have been brought to my attention.  SDUSD has forgotten:

Students:  The district and the teacher’s union created an MOU immediately to protect the rights of the adults working with students.  This was finished in record time while a plan of action for student learning is still really not firmly secure by any means.  The priority of the district is made abundantly clear…adults first, student learning next.

Adolescent Girls:  The district has finally created several food distribution centers at a variety of school sites.  This has been very helpful to our families that live below the poverty level. There is a major group of students who have been forgotten…our young adolescent girls.  Schools meeting the 40 percent pupil poverty threshold are required to provide free feminine hygiene products to students in grades 6-12.  

Education code 35292.6 states: 

(a) A public school maintaining any combination of classes from grade 6 to grade 12, inclusive, that meets the 40-percent pupil poverty threshold required to operate a schoolwide program pursuant to Section 6314(a)(1)(A) of Title 20 of the United States Code shall stock at least 50 percent of the school’s restrooms with feminine hygiene products at all times.

(b) A public school described in subdivision (a) shall not charge for any menstrual products provided to pupils, including, but not limited to, feminine hygiene products.

(c) For purposes of this section, “feminine hygiene products” means tampons and sanitary napkins for use in connection with the menstrual cycle.

(Added by Stats. 2017, Ch. 687, Sec. 1. (AB 10) Effective January 1, 2018.)

It would be great to take the products from the schools and distribute them to the students at the school food distribution sites.   Our school nurses have these supplies provided to them at no cost and the supplies are just sitting at the school sites. Our young girls rely on this service and we need to provide this immediately.  There are some sites that actually have a pantry and could bring those supplies to the food distribution sites as well.   

While these important factors have been brought to my attention, I am asking the media to inquire from our district if and when they will assist our young girls to give them the necessary items needed that were provided for them prior to this epidemic.  I cannot imagine young men being forgotten in this way!

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch