Education Policy Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Education Justice Leaders Developed!”

The Education Equity Program of the Dolores Huerta Foundation focuses on youth, parent and community empowerment through grassroots organizing, training and school district budget advocacy to achieve equitable education in the communities we serve.
In pursuit of restorative justice programs that will improve school climates lower suspensions and expulsion rates and to create more support for at risk students (low-income, English learners, and students with disabilities), the Dolores Huerta Foundation joined the Kern Justice Education Collaborative (KEJC) as lead organization. The KEJC is a network of Kern partners supported by Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Kern , working collaboratively to address educational disparities in Kern through community forums, collective campaigns, and organizing.

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What We Do

The Dolores Huerta Foundation addresses educational disparities through the following efforts:

Grassroots Mobilization and Advocacy – the DHF in collaboration with local partners has mobilized dozens of parents to attend public hearings held by the State Board of Education and ensured consistent parent representation at all KHSD Board meetings, through calls to action, phonebanking, canvassing, and civic education.

Parent Trainings – The DHF has empowered hundreds of parents to become effective advocates for children in schools through intermittent parent training. Some of these trainings have been in partnership with local schools. The training’s curriculum is comprehensive and includes workshops on the rights of parents and students in the disciplinary process, the institutional structure of the local school district, and basic information about how schools are funded under the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Consistent with the Foundation’s mission, we always train parents with an eye to transforming them into natural leaders in the community with agency and autonomy so that they might remain involved and continue transforming their environments into healthy communities.

LCAP Advocacy – The LCFF legally requires all schools to collaborate with community stakeholders in the process of producing an annual budget for supplemental and concentration grant funds schools receive to meet the additional needs of students who are English language learners, foster youth, or low income (ELL, FY, LI). This budget, and its process, is known as the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). It requires all schools to seek input and engagement from parents. This new opportunity for parent engagement within the LCAP process has become one of the major areas of focus for DHF. Schools’ requirement to seek parent engagement in the LCAP process has created an opportunity for us to:

A. Integrate our traditional and systematic organization of parents with the LCAP process

B. Organize students and parents to advance educational justice reforms in their communities.

C. Build a bridge of communication between youth, parents, and school districts.

Communications Strategy –Countering the establishment’s narratives through the strategic use of media is another plank in our efforts to bring about the adoption of alternative disciplinary practices. Fostering community support requires the strategic use of media—TV, radio, Internet, and newspapers—to educate the public about the concrete experiences of students, the outcomes of exclusionary discipline practices, different disciplinary alternatives, policy decisions of trustees and administrators, and current research.

History

In Dec. 2011, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Kern County schools had the most student expulsions in all of California. Schools in Kern County reported 2,578 expulsions among a student population of 173,365. Astonishingly, in terms of raw numbers this was even more expulsions than Los Angeles County which had a student population nine times larger. (L.A. schools had 1,773 expulsions among a student population of 1,574,119.)
Data exposed White folks were 32% of enrollment and 22% of expulsions. Latinos were 55% of enrollment but 60% of expulsions. Blacks were 8% of enrollment but 15% of expulsions.
When asked to explain the inordinate expulsions, administrators responded by claiming it was done in the name of safety. Christina Frazier, Kern County’s Superintendent of Schools, said that students are “not being expelled for pushing and shoving . . . . it is really hard to look away when they’re bringing a gun or a knife or selling drugs.”
They also claimed that no one was complaining about the situation. “There has been no call for a change from students’ parents or the community,” said Brian Batey, Kern High School District Trustee. “No one is running for the board on a platform of keeping obscenity-spewing or drug-selling kids in school.”
In fact, serious violations requiring mandatory expulsion, such as, brandishing a knife or bringing a gun to school, constituted a minority of the offenses. The majority of expulsions were for offenses in which administrators had discretion to recommend a punishment other than expulsion, such as fighting, being intoxicated, or engaging in “willful defiance,” a highly subjective, catch-all, category that is so vaguely defined as to include any form of disobedience such as classroom disruptions, cursing, etc. Safety, therefore, was not the primary factor in such high expulsion rates. Rather, it is a zero-tolerance, law-enforcement-first mentality attitude to school discipline applied by administrators within school communities.
Kern County schools were clearly doing a disservice to a substantial percentage of their students by removing them from a path to graduate on time and to begin college or a career. Recent research shows that students who are expelled or suspended are more likely to drop out and/or go to prison. With an expulsion rate of 15 per 100, Kern schools funneled thousands of its students into the school-to-prison pipeline and made them more likely to end up in prison or on some kind of public assistance.

Our response
When the Dolores Huerta Foundation became aware of these numbers, we sprang into action. We partnered with “Families in Schools” to build the capacity of like-minded organizations through funding and technical support in order to engage parents, families and the public in the decision-making process.
In 2012, the Dolores Huerta Foundation partnered with Building Healthy Communities – South Kern (BHC-SK) to convene the Kern Education Justice Collaborative (KEJC), whose members include the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF), Faith in the Valley – Kern ,, California Rural Legal Assistance, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, All of Us or None Bakersfield Chapter, and the Jakara Movement. With community and youth input, the KEJC developed a set of recommendations for the KHSD LCAP focused on ending the “school-to-prison pipeline” by improving school climate. The recommendations included:
1. Implementing Positive Behavior Intervention and (PBIS) and Restorative Justice practices
2. Creating parent centers with bilingual and culturally competent staff
3. Eliminating the use of supplement and concentration grants to fund “security personnel,” i.e., campus police

Our Impact

Through our advocacy efforts in education, the Dolores Huerta Foundation has had an impact. Here are some of our victories:

  1. A lawsuit was filed in 2014 against KHSD to eliminate the discriminatory suspension and exclusionary policies. The lawsuit was filed by CRLA, GBLA, and Equal Justice Society on behalf of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Faith in the Valley – Kern, National Brotherhood Association and individual students and families. The lawsuit showed that students of color were being suspended and expelled at an alarming rate compared to their white peers and that KHSD’s 2014 LCAP didn’t include a plan to support the implementation of PBIS and Restorative Justice. Although the lawsuit is still pending it has pressured KHSD to make significant reforms for the 2015-16 school year.
  2. As a result of our advocacy, KSHD’s 2015-16 LCAP includes $2.59 million for school climate and $1.18 million for parent engagement. In the 2014-15 LCAP, KHSD used $2.4 million of supplemental and concentration grant dollars to fund their police department. Due in no small measure to our spotlighting this misappropriation, in the 2015-2016 LCAP no s/c grant funds are being used for the police department. Rather, $2.59 million is being used to implement PBIS and Restorative Justice and hire 4 regional PBIS intervention specialists. Additionally, $1.18 million is being used for 8 new parent centers and parent workshops and programs.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation continues to empower parents by offering online training and workshops. The most recent is a 6 part series of Parent Power Analysis focused on emergency learning in the time of COVID-19 empowering parents created the Power Analysis Series, 6 sessions and a bonus session 7.  We got to know one another and build our solidarity; learned the history of Black and Brown struggle, highlighted the demands, learned about racial capitalism and power analysis.  Power analysis enabled parents to go back locally and  start to move the bar on their issues.  Our education curriculum is comprehensive and includes sections on parent rights, school resources and programs available, English language learners and the reclassification process, the structure of the school district, responsible leadership, basic information about how schools are funded through the LCFF, and the LCAP Process.

Parent Student Rights Handbook

The Dolores Huerta Foundation has partnered with The California Endowment to create the “School Discipline Handbook for Parents and Students”. Downloadable PDF version of the handbook (En inglés y español) are available below.

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What is PBIS and Restorative Justice?

PBIS is a system of discipline which aims to change disciplinary attitudes and approaches in teachers and administrators. The system is based on (a) a clear definition of behavioral expectations valued by the school community, (b) continually teaching students what the behaviors look like through concrete examples, (c) a reward system for students in compliance, and (d) a 3-tiered continuum of consequences for behavioral violations.

https://www.pbis.org/ – PBIS OSEP Technical Assistance Center

Restorative Justice, on the other hand, is a disciplinary method which focuses on changing the mindset of the offender by initiating a dialogue between the victim(s) and the offender. The offender is also required to confront the harms that are done to the larger community. During this process, the restorative justice circle, as it is called, is where all the parties come together to discuss the situation and attempt to redress the harms. Central to the idea of restorative justice is the idea of restoring balance in the community by redressing the harm done by the offender

https://www.rpiassn.org/ – Restorative Practices International Association

Education Resources and Websites

http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/https://csgjusticecenter.org/http://www.cadre-la.org/http://fixschooldiscipline.org/https://www.myschoolmyrights.com/http://kids-alliance.org/http://fosteryoutheducationkit.com/

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