Liberty Hill Foundation
L.A.'s social justice epicenter since 1976

News From the Frontlines

Brothers Sons Selves Brief Legislators

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By Karen Driscoll

On November 15, elected officials, community organizations, parents, and youth convened for the State Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color’s Briefing on school accountability measures. The panelists not only included Assemblymember Steven Bradford, chair of the Select Committee but also youth speakers from the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition managed by Liberty Hill, Superintendent Steinhauser, and Keric Ashley from California’s Department of Education.

The purpose of the briefing was to generate policy ideas for the Assembly to consider. From this briefing, community members urged Assembly members to support legislation that extends summer programs that combat the summer slump and keep students learning. Youth speaker, Walter Brown opened with remarks about his experience as a young man of color. Brown shared how he left home to serve his country at war only to return to war in his own neighborhood. Brown highlighted that children in Long Beach suffer from more Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder than those children in war-torn countries. Brown urged the elected and community to continue to make the revolutionary changes needed to improve how systems treat our boys and men of color (BMoC).

Throughout the afternoon, youth speaker after youth speaker shared similar stories of the circumstances they faced as boys and men of color as a result of living in unhealthy environments and making bad choices. This includes pressure to join gangs, succumbing to an abundance of liquor stores, and being pushed out of school due to harsh discipline policies. Yet each of these stories ended with youth expressing how they were able to change the course of their life and thrive with the help and support of mentors and community organizations.

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With each of these stories, it is clear that boys and men of color can succeed when they are given the opportunity. Keric Ashley, Analysis Director of California’s Department of Education, highlighted how the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) has added subgroup data to school accountability measures that will help to track performance gaps and better track graduation rates, dropout rates, and suspension and expulsion rates by race. This data has and will continue to shine a light on ways to improve the outcomes for BMoC and other disenfranchised groups.

Superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), Chris Steinhauser, shared that LCFF will provide Long Beach schools with $13 million more which will help the district to continue to fund interventions like the Male Academy, targeted to help young men achieve more in school. Furthermore, the resolution on school discipline passed by LBUSD in October urges schools to develop alternatives to suspensions and keep students on the path towards academic success.

Ultimately, the briefing underscored the fact that boys and men of color face unique circumstances and we must continue to find ways to improve the outcomes of these young men because every student deserves an opportunity to thrive.

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