By Chaché Wright
There is a misconception that runs rampant throughout our school halls across California, Black students have little to no desire to do well and be challenged in the classroom. Having grown up in the San Bernardino City Unified School District and actively involved in civil rights work since a young age, I can firmly say that is far from the truth. The reality is Black students haven’t been provided the resources and support needed to do well and thrive alongside their peers of other backgrounds.
We can no longer standby and continue to let this misconception be whispered any longer. I am calling on Governor Newsom to join us and support AB 2774 (Weber) that will provide education equity. Because while Black students want to thrive and do better in school, the reality is the achievement gap for African American students is pervasive regardless of income. African American students are the lowest performing student subgroup with 67% not meeting the English Language Arts Standards and 79% not meeting Math Standards.
AB 2774 will benefit African American students by creating a new supplemental grant for the lowest performing subgroup of students not currently receiving LCFF funds. Here in San Bernardino County, it will provide an estimated $42 million to support our youth. Those are funds that should have been distributed here decades ago to support our youth.
When I was a student coming up, I was supported by a village because that’s what it takes. Since then, I have paid that service forward and tutored a student in math who attended San Bernardino Valley College. I recently ran into that young man who was working as a poll worker and still working his way through college. However, he has the potential skill set to have been further down his path to thrive if he had only been equipped with the resources to do better.
There are critics who think why single Black students out? And my answer to them is that this doesn’t just benefit Black students. This would benefit all students because when the lowest performing demographic of students starts to achieve more it pushes the students above them to do better.
This bill will provide more financial resources, but it also holds our schools accountable. AB 2774 will increase accountability by requiring that school districts and charter schools describe how they address high needs students in their annual Local Control Accountability Plan.
Black students want to be held to higher standards. Students who have received LCFF funding have shown progress and improved outcomes due to concentrated resources aimed at their improvement. For far too long Black students have not received the additional support afforded to other populations. The only way to address this problem is through sustainable and longstanding funding and not another temporary funding substitution.
As an advocate for our youth and their future, I can no longer stand by and watch the achievement gap get larger. The plan to help fix this has been created. We must demand that Black students are given the resources and Governor Newsom joins us in creating education equity now and supports AB 2774.
Chaché Wright, NAACP San Bernardino President, has served in this role for three years and lives in San Bernardino.