Local Project Educates and Enriches Black Parents, Students

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Alkebulan Educational Institute to launch Black History enrichment program in Summer 2022

By A.L. Haynes, Contributing Writer, The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint

Education rights are imperative for equity. September 25th was the first in a series of information sessions hosted by the Alkebulan Educational Institute focused on questions parents or guardians should ask to ensure their children are receiving equitable treatment, assistance, and access in their education.

A new project by the San Diego Chapter of The Association of Black Psychologists, the Alkebulan Educational Institute was born in 2020 to help the educational and mental development of local Black youth. Beginning in Summer of 2022, the Institute will offer Saturday enrichment programs focused on everything from in-depth Black history to Common Core catch-up classes. For the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, the Alkebulan Educational Institute is offering training and informational sessions to parents, guardians, caretakers, and other education stakeholders. The goal is to help the community understand and activate their rights for educational equity.

Martin Milton, an SDUSD education administrator, presented information for parents at the “Asking The Right Questions To Get The Right Answers” forum on September 25, 2021. The forum was hosted by the Alkebulan Educational Institute. Photo Courtesy of Alkebulan Educational Institute

The first session was moderated by Dr. Monica Hinton, Behavioral Health Therapist and President of the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists. The presenter was Martin Milton, a San Diego native and Education Administrator with the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). He has also served as a teacher and vice-principal in the district. The focus was on parent and student rights in California.

Martin began by stressing how important it is for parents and guardians to know their rights. He noted they will be found in parent handbooks, school discipline policies, district discipline policies, CA AB-130, and the CA Labor Code Section 230.8. Basic rights include:

    • 8 Hours a month off for school involvement (if the employer has 25 or more employees)
    • Contact information for teachers, principals and counselors
    • Classroom observations (may require pre-arrangement with the school)
    • Clearly defined grading criteria
    • Independent study contracts for any absence over three days
    • Live online sessions with their teacher after 15 or more cumulative days of absence
    • Investigations for disciplinary actions, especially suspensions
    • A 10-day window to appeal suspensions
    • Assistance for students who are falling behind

The importance of asking the right questions during Parent/Teacher meetings was also emphasized. If a teacher cannot or will not answer these questions, matters may need to be escalated to the school administration. Important questions that can be used at the elementary, middle, and high school levels are:

    • Is my struggling student receiving small group and/or individual instruction?
    • How often are they receiving the focused small group or individual instruction?
    • How did you determine their reading (or other subject) level?
    • Is there a rubric or scale used to measure that my child is meeting the standards?
    • What supports are there for a student who is struggling?
    • What can I do at home to best support my child?
Dr. Monica Hinton, President of the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, moderated the September 25, 2021 forum. Photo: Courtesy of Sharp

Education goes beyond what students know or their chances of entering university. According to the National Academy of Sciences, schools play a large part in educating people about health conditions and how to care for themselves. Care for common conditions such as asthma, as well as the need for vaccines and checkups, are usually learned in school rather than in the home, where history may color the facts. The Academy also notes that, “Each additional year of education leads to 11 percent more income annually, helping to secure safer working environments as well as benefits like health insurance”.

Martin warned that some teachers may try to use Union contracts, or even blatant lies, to get out of offering independent study, online hours, or remedial assistance. The key is to remain persistent and be willing to escalate. Regulations require that parents try to get assistance directly from teachers first. Keep a record of interactions so there is proof of inequities or inaction. The next step is to approach school administration, including the principal. This is often enough to get things done, but if not, matters can be escalated to the school district. In SDUSD, escalations should be sent to the Quality Assurance Office (QAO).

Even following these steps, it is up to parents or guardians to hold both the school and district accountable for proper investigations and reporting prior to rulings being issued. Some may recall that SDUSD’s QAO has already faced several lawsuits and a federal investigation. Knowing the school’s and district’s policies regarding discipline, harassment, suspensions, and other matters is key to mounting a proper defense and offense, and lawsuit if necessary, to defend educational equity and rights.

The San Diego Voice &Viewpoint’s coverage of local news in San Diego County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Enthnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California

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