Commentary
Faith In The Valley Family

April 20, 2021

The guilty verdict in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd was just announced. We want to send you this brief email to first communicate our love and solidarity with each one of you as we strive to create a country that does not have the idolatry of white supremacy at its core. We must stand with one another in friendship and love to draw from one another’s strength during troubling times.

We think it is also important to name this reality: Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd is not the essence of the justice that we seek. Derek Chauvin being held accountable for murder is the bare minimum. We are not asking for bare minimums. We are demanding and fighting for a fundamental shift in how we see one another as expressed in our public policies. It has been stated time and time again that our public policies are the moral documents of our cities, states, and of our nation. Let us not settle for low hanging fruit, but let us continue to work towards a larger transformation of both our individual selves and our public life together.

We will continue to declare with one another, that white supremacy will not have the final word over the lives of those of us that have experienced it's violent bottom, nor will white supremacy have the last word for those of us who have experienced it’s violent privileges.

Let us continue hold the family of George Floyd in prayer, who still must do their best to make a life in the wake of the traumatic loss of their loved one, for the rest of their natural lives.

Let us hold one another in prayer, as we strengthen our collective bonds with one another. Let us hold our country in prayer and work while it is light to create a new day.

Faith in the Valley 

Urgent steps are necessary to address implicit bias in Early Education  

Black Men for Educational Equity | Special to California Black Media Partners

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 BMEE 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. Staying Connected with Social Media Coronavirus Information Census2020 CURRENT ISSUE Connect With Us... Tweets by @cvvoicenews Sign up for updates! Get news from Central Valley Voice in your inbox. ∗Email