Black Equity Initiative of the inland empire
For Black Communities, By Black Leaders
In response to the persistently low achievement of African American students, black community members and educational leaders advocated for the passage of Board Policy 6012.1 in 2005 which established the Targeted Instructional Improvement Policy (TIIP) in San Bernardino Unified School District, one of few policies in the region charged with supporting the academic needs of African American students throughout the district.
Seeing little progress in black student achievement since the passage of TIIP in 2005, in 2014, a coalition of 10 community-based partners convened in 2014 to lobby for a Task Force on African American Student Achievement in San Bernardino City Unified School District. Under the leadership of former Superintendent Dale Marsden and guided by Dr. Kennon Mitchell, former Assistant Superintendent, the district worked with the African American Educational Coalition to develop a collective impact study to identify promising practices with a comprehensive set of recommendations later implemented in alignment with the TIIP policy. Over 100 community members, parents, students, administrators and educators participate in a series of task force activities facilitated over the 6-month study period. The coalition produced a final report in June 2014. The findings and recommendations became the basis for resourcing the Equity and Targeted Student Achievement Department and an African American Learner’s Initiative to improve academic outcomes for black students through a focus on instructional practices, culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, parent and community engagement.
Coalition Activities & Accomplishments
- October 2015: SBCUSD African American Task Force featured among California school district’s making black achievement a priority in Education Trust West Black Minds Matter Report
- October 2015: Black led organizations, in partnership with Inland Congregations United for Change, and in affiliation with Dignity in Schools California, organize to win discipline reform and efforts to decriminalize youth in schools through changes in citation and arrest practices in SBCUSD.
- November 2015: Black students from the Inland Empire partner with Education Trust West and others to organize 1000 students from high schools and colleges throughout California to participate in the Black Minds Matter Day of Student Advocacy in Sacramento.
- January 2016: Some coalitions members join California Call’s African American Civic Engagement Project (AACEP) an effort to expand civic engagement, and support movement building in black communities across California.
- August 2016: African American Education Coalition members convened local planning table with the California Endowment to host Schools Not Prison San Bernardino Tour.
- January 2017: Coalition is supported through the JIB Funded Black Equity Initiative
- April 2017: Convene 2 ½ day planning and healing retreat with black led organization and expand coalition name to Black Equity Coalition
- May 2017: Organized letters and delegation of over 50 Inland Empire students and community members to give public testimony before CDE and State Board Members for clear standards and mandates to close the achievement gap in it’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan.
- May 2017: Organized a rapid campaign, board action and subsequent meeting with the superintendent in response to a disproportionate number of non-renewals which helped to disrupt push out of black educators and administrators and set new standards for recruitment, retention, leadership development, as well community interview plans to strengthen diversity.
- July 2017: Convene nearly 50 black youth in a Youth Artivist Retreat to deepen their civic engagement to raise their awareness about social issues; inspire their creativity; and engage in discussion groups and hands-on performance pieces. The Institute for Civic Engagement is launched to develop and prepare a pipeline of black leaders for public service through various elected or appointed positions.
- April 2018: Leveraged our civic engagement power to expand awareness about the important role of the District Attorney in partnership with ACLU and through AACEP; and launched a new coalition structure, Rethink Public Safety (RTPS), an expanded coalition and platform for ongoing prosecutorial accountability and criminal justice reforms
- RTPS leads efforts to demand prosecutorial accountability and removal of a racist gang prosecutor.
- June 2018: A series of townhall meetings are convened across the Inland Empire to set priorities for a regional Black Education Agenda.
- IE black led groups join statewide opposition to proposed changes A-G criteria for concern that changes would create additional access barriers for black students and other students of color seeking CSU admission. The campaign resulted in a 2 year delay and independent committee to conduct an impact study of the proposed change.
- IE Black led groups join the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub, a network of over 30 Black-led and Black-serving organizations across the state focused on maximizing participation in the census and redistricting process among hard to count Black communities.
- Organized to win declaration to deem racism as a public health crisis in San Bernardino and to win similar racial equity resolutions in light of the George Floyd murder, in San Bernardino City Community College District, Fontana Unified School and Rialto Unified School District
Black Equity Initiative
Interested parties should contact Pastor Samuel Casey and Felicia Jones (COPE), and Dina Walker (BLU).