Let’s advance racial justice through community schools

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Let's advance racial justice through community schools AMERICANED UCLACOMM 069Credit: Allison Shelley for EDUimages

Combined second and third grade students at the UCLA Community School speak in pairs.

Marking the beginning of a new trajectory for public education, the California State Board of Education recently announced the grantees of a landmark program aimed at creating racially equitable schools by sharing decision-making power with students, families, educators, and community partners. .

We have seen many initiatives come and go in our decades of advocacy to improve schools for California’s students of color. Too often initiatives fail due to top-down implementation that is disconnected from what students and families need and want.

In response to successful organizing in 2021 by students and families of color and more than 50 organizations, state leaders approved a historic $3 billion investment for the California Community Schools Partnership Program, the largest investment of its guy in the nation. This summer, thousands of California schools will receive grants aimed at ensuring that those most affected by educational injustice join the co-design of local schools.

Community schools are sometimes described as campuses that offer additional student services, such as health care. While health care and other supports are critical, a service-oriented approach misses a tremendous opportunity to transform the entire school community and create a positive school culture by developing racially just relationships among educators, staff, students, and families. That was a top priority for the more than 600 people who came together in six regional forums to tell state leaders about their vision for community schools.

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When relationships are centered and supported by new decision-making processes that include students and families as equal partners, schools become welcoming and thriving learning environments that are built on the dreams and strengths of students. students, families, the community, and educators.

That’s what we see happening at Sacramento’s Luther Burbank High School, where students and families have been included in decision-making and the school is in constant communication with them about their children and school activities. Through volunteer home visits, teachers and families build trust, share hopes and dreams for the student and family, and teachers ask about improvements that can support student and family success.

Luther Burbank is leveraging community relations to create a safe campus without the use of school police. The school has hired people from the community to work as school monitors and contact students if tensions arise. When there are conflicts, the school brings in the whole family to better understand what is going on in the student’s life. If services are needed, the school contacts its network to provide personalized support.

While state lawmakers took a step in the right direction by listening to students and families of color in creating the California Community Schools Partnership Program and writing grant rules to distribute the funds, the real test is yet to come. is to come.

Grassroots organizations across the state will work with school districts to ensure that Community School Grant funds are spent on priorities developed by youth, their families, community members and educators, and supported from more than 57 racial justice and educational equity organizations around the world. the state.

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By focusing on the following priorities, California can achieve its vision of creating racially just schools:

  • Share decision-making power with directly affected students and families;
  • Build deeper relationships in school communities;
  • Commit to police-free schools and promote restorative school cultures;
  • Provide teaching and learning with cultural roots;
  • Partner with trusted community organizations; Y
  • Expand support for mental health and wellness for everyone in the school community.

This is an exciting time for our public schools, and the eyes of the nation will be on California once again as we break new ground and build momentum to transform every California school into a community school. Through shared power and decision-making, students, families, the community, and educators can co-create relationship-centered schools and lay the foundation for an educational system built by and for all of us.

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grind the flowers is a Sacramento-based parent and community leader with PICO California Education for Liberation and the California Partnership for the Future of Learning.

carl pinkstone is the COO of the Black Parallel School Board and the Central Valley Movement Building.

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