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Black Minds Matter Briefing Addresses State of California’s Black Students

PASADENA, CA – 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, and 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 districts 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.

Afrowear Launches First Annual Urban Fashion Show in Sunny Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA- It’s Spring time and we’re that much closer to summer, and the go-getters are already amping for the start of fall. In preparation for the next season, Afrowear founder Latanya Alexander will be launching the label’s first annual End of the Summer Fashion Show and Expo, which kicks off on September 3 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Reef LA located at 1933 S Broadway in Sunny Los Angeles.

Afrowear was established in 2011 as an urban apparel line that provides quality tees, hats, and accessories that empower the community to triumph through daily obstacles, become resilient, and inspired to reach new heights.

“I’m very excited to put on this wonderful fashion show. My goal is bring communities together to an event that celebrates small business, entertainment, and fashion as they brand their businesses.”

In addition to the message behind the brand, the ultimate purpose of the event is to serve as a platform in bringing together entrepreneurs of the community to celebrate fashion, culture, and music while building new connections in expansion of their own brands. For those that would love to be involved, vendor booths and sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Latanya Alexander at (323) 842-0549 orafrowear.byladyt@gmail.com; or Shanelle Williams at Shanellebwilliams@gmail.com. For fashion show inquires contact Edna at (909) 586-0079 oreventswithedna@gmail.com. Additional information on Afrowear can be found by visiting www.afrowearapparel.com.

 

Fontana Unified Graduates Nearly 3,200 Students

FONTANA, CA- Close to 3,200 students from Fontana Unified School District’s five comprehensive high schools, two continuation schools and adult school capped their high school careers with graduation ceremonies last week at the Citizens Bank Arena. Among the Class of 2016 graduates, two are headed to Stanford University and several others bound for UCs, CSUs and universities across the nation.

Summit High School and Birch and Citrus continuations schools held their ceremonies on May 23. Fontana and Kaiser high schools held their ceremonies May 24. A.B. Miller and Jurupa Hills high schools held their ceremonies May 25. The Fontana Adult School held its event on May 27.

Fontana Unified Board President Lorena Corona congratulated members of the Class of 2016 for their academic and personal achievements and encouraged students to pursue post-secondary dreams.

 “Words cannot express how proud I am of everything these students have accomplished and that they have demonstrated their ability to reach a high level of academic success,” Corona said. “I wish all of them the best of luck in whatever endeavors they choose to pursue after high school.”

Carlos Ciudad-Real is one of two Kaiser High School valedictorians headed to Stanford University, where he will major in environmental systems engineering. Joining him at the prestigious university will be Jaime Hurtado-Lopez, who will study bioengineering/environmental engineering.

Hurtado-Lopez, a Gates Millennium Scholar and QuestBridge scholarship winner, has advice for the next generation of students: “Don’t lose track of what is important. Enjoy your time here, but stay focused.”

Fontana Unified’s graduates will attend state and national universities, including UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Cal Poly Pomona as well as many other campuses in the University of California and California State University systems.

“The fact that we have students moving onto some of the most prestigious universities in the country shows that our schools are engaging students in way that prepares them for college and careers,” Fontana Unified Superintendent Dr. Leslie Boozer said. “Fontana Unified strives to empower all students to be successful. The caliber of universities and colleges they attend demonstrates our ability to live up to that mission.”

For more information on this year’s valedictorians and salutatorians, visit www.fusd.net/announcements2/2015-16/vals_and_sals.stm.