By Cheryl Brown –
San Bernardino City Unified School District heard from parents, to teachers, to community members at its regular board meeting earlier this week. Parents wanted students to graduate and teachers were there to stay in the classrooms to fulfill that goal.
Others were there to support the naming of a school after the late W.R. Bob Holcomb, former mayor. In a 6- 1 vote the naming passed. Judy Penman was the dissenting vote.
Four speakers addressed what Holcomb had done to deserve the naming and still Judy Pennman said he didn’t have too much interaction with students. Each of the presenters disagreed.
Linda Hart talked about how he took the guns off of the fire trucks when she was a youth Rabbi Hillel Cohn said we would not have Cal State University if it were not for him Lorraine Valarde urged them to go out of their system and select the name. Mayor Pat Morris said, “this is an opportune time to name a school for Holcomb he was very involved with education for years, siting many of the city’s school structures. Naming a school after him would be an appropriate way to say thank you.”
In a press conference held before Tuesday’s board meeting, a coalition of grassroots community groups requested the board take specific steps to intervene in the dropout crises, asking for a partnership between them and the district to address the issue.
Rev. Samuel J. Casey, Executive Director of Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) said, “It was an awesome engagement of faith and community as we came together to address the alarming and staggering statistics of the dropout rate of African American and Latino students.
This was the first of its kind between COPE who has partnered with BLU Ed. Foundation to collaborate to create Parents & Communities Engaged in Education (PCEE), and ICUC who worked together to make the Press Conference/ Board Action a success. While at the board meeting ICUC Youth leaders addressed, Felicia Jones, and Pastor Benjamin Briggs addressed the board and presented the list of demands that are to be followed up on in the next 60 days with our leaders.”
Understanding there is strength in coming together, ICUC, Inland Congregations United for Change, COPE, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, and BLU Educational Foundation and Parents Engaged in Education has come together to affect change. They said they want results not just lip service.
The group had three main demands.
A. Double the number and percentage of students who complete the A-G course requirements. To achieve this goal, the group demands expanding the course offering also providing a flexible scheduling to recovery credits with emphasis on Algebra and foreign language.
B. Increase monitoring for on-time credit completion and early intervention for 9th grade students. To achieve this the coalition demands full implementation of the district’s web based system (AERIES) that provides parents with access to real-time information on student’s credit, grades, assignments and absenteeism. They demand that the district ensures that guidance counselors track the number and percentage of students who successfully complete first semester credits vs the students who have not.
C. Provide clear pathways for students to access vocational opportunities and career training. The group demands that the group establish articulation agreement with community colleges to link high school students to career/technical courses; And to develop a partnership with business and industries and leverage state resources to advance vocational/career opportunities for students.