*The school to prison pipeline starts as early as preschool for our youngest Black learners.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2016-2017), Black children face issues with preschool access and exclusion, and are prone to receive harsher discipline than non-Black students who display the same behavior.
Statistics show that Black children are 15% of the K-12th grade student population; however, they are 36% of students suspended at least once. Too many Black early learners are bounced around between multiple preschools or childcare programs like urban nomads.
During the height of the George Floyd protests, a group of African American men with professional experience in education, policy, research and social work formed Black Men for Educational Equity (BMEE) to address implicit bias in early education. Over the last five months, BMEE examined the disparities and inequalities that exist in the system for young Black children and have created a plan of action for addressing these systemic issues.
To combat this problem, BMEE is calling on the California Legislature to ensure that Black preschoolers are not excluded from important educational components and success through implicit bias and structural racism. Having access to quality preschool, fair treatment in the classroom, and equal opportunity for success are all crucial components in helping our Black preschool students succeed now, and for generations to come.
Too often, the three “B’s” predict a preschooler’s risk of expulsion: “big, Black and boy.” Black children are expelled at twice the rate of white children, particularly if they are bigger or taller than their peers. Research reveals this is less about the physical characteristics of the child and more about what is going on in the teacher’s mind, than what the child is doing. Although there is great need in California for preschool and childcare services, preschool is not compulsory.
Preschools in California currently can exclude students prior to even attempting to teach them based on subjective behavioral expectations. These unfounded behavioral expectations are often fraught with implicit bias and hidden from research as providers are not required to track or report reasons for exclusion, expulsion, or suspension. It is tantamount to expulsion without any process or notice of rights, and contrary to long term public policy.
Young Black children, particularly Black boys, are too often victims of an education system that fails them and stifles their potential to succeed. When Black children are held to different standards for learning and behavior and even worse, higher standards are seen for them in preschool, it furthers the systematic racial divide.
“It is important early education staff shift from destructive approaches to discipline and towards research-informed best practices,” commented Dr. Judy D. White, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools. “The Research is clear that when teachers are supported with resources and evidence-based training, preschool can help young children build crucial social-emotional and pre academic skills. A child’s ability to successfully navigate social and emotional learning at a young age is a major factor in educational success. Exclusionary discipline such as suspension isolates the children most in need of social-emotional development, and results in poor educational outcomes. We want all preschoolers to experience an inclusive and welcoming learning environment.”
While legislators have made efforts to address preschool accountability, such as AB 752 by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) which proposes a series of interventions and referrals before expelling a child, there remains a hole the size of Mount Everest in California’s early learning accountability and teacher training system.
California should establish developmentally appropriate policies and structures to provide support to preschool providers by clarifying definitions for suspension and expulsion in preschool and providing due process. Due process should come before any sort of expulsion to help ensure disciplinary practices are not abused. It is long past time for California to take measurable action to eliminate exclusionary practices that contribute to the preschool to prison pipeline.
Preschool providers should collect and track data on rates of expulsion and suspension in early learning and preschool settings. At a minimum, four dominant categories should disaggregate the data. They are: sex, race, ethnicity, and disability status. Information could be housed locally and by the state. Preschool providers should also be required to provide due process before kicking a student out.
“California’s early learning and care system continues to suffer from historic and structural racism and sexism,” according to Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of schools. ”Policies and procedures such as incentivizing providers to expel children who are deemed ‘problematic’, paying a higher reimbursement for part-day preschool than full-day preschool and directing CalWORKS recipients to lower-quality childcare programs serves to perpetuate the inequities caused by structural racism and sexism. Now that we know better, it’s time to do better.”
“BMEE is here to shake up the system and not maintain the status quo,” said Khaim Morton, owner KRM Strategies and BMME Member. KRM strategies specializes in the advancement and application of comprehensive legislation and government affairs strategies. “All Black children deserve an opportunity to succeed. Research shows that implicit bias demonizes Black children before they get to kindergarten. BMEE’s vision is to remove stigmas that Black preschoolers are subjected to and support policy solutions.”
About the Authors:
BMEE is a group of African American men with professional experience in education, policy, research and social work.
Actors Dexter Darden and Belmont Cameli Talk About Their Roles in The New Saved By The Bell
*The 90s sitcom “Saved by the Bell” is returning to TV. The revised Saturday morning favorite will be airing on NBC’s new streaming service Peacock.
The show will focus on a new generation of Bayside High students along with some old favorites. Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is now the governor of California and come under heat as he is blamed for the closing of many low-income schools. To rectify the situation he proposes those students attend Bayside High.
The transferred students find themselves adjusting to being out of their element, while the Bayside students try to play nice and make room for the new kids. We spoke with Dexter Darden and Belmont Cameli about their characters.
“It really is important to show that just where you are doesn’t necessarily have to be where you’re going to go. For Devante to come to Bayside and meet Jamie Spano and Mac Morris and have the opportunity to interact with all these kids who aren’t like him and not what he’s used to, it’s really special,” is what Dexter had to say about his character Devante.
Belmont Camelin plays Jamie who is the son of Jessie Spano, played by Elizabeth Berkley. As a true fan of the original, you have to wonder if the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree? Is Jessie’s son a passionate outspoken book worm kind of kid? Well only somewhat according to Belmont:
“I don’t think he’s as strong about his academics but he’s certainly passionate and he’s a very expressive person. His mom has made him very aware of his feelings and relationships,” says Belmont.
Not only was Jessie a straight-A student she was also vocal about anything she felt wasn’t right, so it’ll be interesting to see her son be just as vocal as the show covers topics that the 90’s version didn’t cover.
Check out the new generation of “Saved By The Bell” November 25 on Peacock.
TRAILER DEBUT: ‘MLK/FBI’ | Directed By Emmy Award-Winner Sam Pollard | Opens January 15
*SYNOPSIS: MLK/FBI is an essential expose of the surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (labeled by the FBI as the “most dangerous” Black person in America), undertaken by J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. government.
Based on newly discovered and declassified files, as well as revelatory restored footage, the documentary explores the government’s history of targeting Black activists.
Directed by Emmy® Award-winner and Oscar®-nominee Sam Pollard, MLK/FBI recounts a tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment.
DIRECTOR: Sam Pollard is an Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated director and producer. His films for HBO,PBS, and the Discovery Channel include the documentaries Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, Slavery by Another Name, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I Gotta Be Me, ACORN and the Firestorm, Why We Hate, and Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. Pollard also directed two episodes of the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize II. Since 1994 Pollard has served on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and lives in New York City.
RIVETING. A timely reminder that King’s struggle for racial justice wasn’t straightforward, nor is it close to complete.” – THE ATLANTIC, David Sims
“An engrossing, unsettling documentary. Rigorously focused on the facts of the past, the movie is also as timely as an alarm clock.”- THE NEW YORK TIMES, A.O. Scott
“SEARING. Serves as a chilling reminder that white supremacy is not solely a partisan problem; it’s a cruelty baked into the fabric of our political system, poisoning it at every level. Change comes when we allow ourselves to challenge the stories we have been told about our history.” – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Jourdain Searles
Director: Sam Pollard
Producer: Benjamin Hedin
Executive Producers: David Friend, Charlotte Cook, Jeffrey Lurie, Marie Therese Guirgis, Kate Hurwitz, Dana O’Keefe, and Steven Farneth
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.
The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.
“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”
Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”
The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.
“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”
Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”
In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.
“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”
Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.
“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”
Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”
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