Over a hundred community members attended an informational briefing on California’s nearly one million Black youth, hosted by Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD – 41) and The Education Trust–West at Pasadena City College. The “Black Minds Matter” briefing examined the recently published Education Trust-West report, “Black Minds Matter: Supporting the Educational Success of Black Children in California.”
“Over the past 165 years, court cases and policy decisions have shaped the educational experiences of Black children,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Despite some progress, the unfortunate reality is that opportunity and achievement gaps continue to persist, leaving California’s nearly one million Black youth under age 25 facing an uphill battle to get the education they desire.”
“Black students are the least likely to graduate high school in four years and the most likely to be placed in remedial, non-credit bearing courses in college,” said Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director, The Education Trust–West. “We can dismantle the obstacles placed in front of California’s Black students – if we collectively believe it’s possible.”
The panel of experts and guest speakers highlighted the findings and promising practices legislators and educators can consider in addressing disparities and inequities in access, opportunity and achievement.
“I agree with the report. We need to do more, and we need to do better,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. “We are implementing several specific recommendations in the report, increasing funding, particularly for the neediest students, and increased local control. We are focused on equity, working with stakeholders to ensure high-quality education for all students.
Recommendations for school district leaders in the report focus on expanding access, improving school climate and strengthening and supporting meaningful authentic family engagement efforts. Black Minds Matter stresses the need to use data to identify gaps in access to rigorous courses and target more resources and opportunities to students who are struggling academically. To further address closing these gaps, districts can build and strengthen formal partnerships between districts and community-based organizations representing African American communities.
“I applaud Assemblymember Holden and Assemblymember Weber for displaying the very type of leadership and firm commitment that we need to close opportunity and achievement gaps for all of California’s students,” said Smith.
Participants in the briefing included Chris Holden, Assemblymember for 41st Assembly District; Ryan Smith, Executive Director for Education Trust – West; Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Yvette Gullatt , Vice Provost and Chief Outreach Officer for the University of California Office of the President; Dr. Christopher D. Jimenez y West, Instructor, Social Science Division, Pasadena City College; John Pointer, Student Body President, John Muir High School; Felita Kealing, Pasadena Unified School District African-American Parent Council; Trudell Skinner, Principal, Blair High School; Dr. Mack Hines, Pasadena Unified School District African-American Student Success Initiative; and Darvin Jackson, Monrovia Unified School District, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources.