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California Black Media Political Playback: News You Might Have Missed

Joe W. Bowers Jr. and Edward Henderson | California Black Media

Your roundup of stories you might have missed last week.

Poll: Black Voters’ Are Concerned About the Quality of K-12 Education in California

Last week, the Black in School Coalition released the results of its comprehensive survey titled “California Black Voters Perspectives on the Quality of Education for Black Students.”

The coalition commissioned this statewide survey of 1,200 Black voters for the third consecutive year to assess their viewpoints on education funding, school performance, and the biggest challenges facing Black students today.

The Black in School Coalition is a statewide organization that works to improve academic and social outcomes for Black students in California.

The data gathered from the poll is intended to offer policymakers, educators, and other relevant stakeholders insights into the education related concerns of Black voters. These insights can be used to help them develop more effective policies and programs to improve the quality of education that Black students receive.

Currently, 70% of Black students are not meeting English language arts standards and 84% are not meeting math standards.

The survey found that 84% of Black voters want education funding to target the lowest performing schools.

Additionally, 71% of Black voters believe that allocating additional money based on student performance would improve education for Black students.

79% of respondents support a legislative proposal to change the way that LCFF is funded by creating a new grant for California’s lowest performing subgroups, including Black students.

50% of respondents do not think that schools in their area are providing quality education for Black students. This finding suggests that Black students are not receiving the same quality of education as their White peers.

93% of respondents think that chronic absenteeism is an urgent problem. This is a major issue for Black students because it can have a devastating impact on their academic achievement.

48% of Black voters disagree that the California legislature is working hard to improve education for Black students. Only 27% of respondents agree that Gov. Newsom is doing enough to improve educational outcomes for Black students.

All of these findings suggest that Black voters in California are deeply concerned about the state of education for Black students.

Dr. Margaret Fortune, President and CEO of Fortune School of Education said during the release of the poll, “I think that the point of this work is to improve the academic performance of all of our students including those that are the lowest performers.”

Brian Rivas with The Education Trust-West and a Black in School Coalition member said in the Coalition’s press release, “Almost half of those surveyed do not believe the California Legislature is working hard to improve education for Black students, and that is a problem. We must do better.”

Clarence Avant, “The Black Godfather,” Dies at 92 in Los Angeles

Clarence Avant, known for his exceptional ability as a “kingmaker” and deal closer in power circles from Hollywood to Washington died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Avant, born in Greensboro, N.C., was 92.

“Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as ‘The Black Godfather’ in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports,” read a statement released by his children Alex and Nicole Avant and his son-in-law Ted Sarandos.

“Clarence leaves behind a loving family and a sea of friends and associates that have changed the world and will continue to change the world for generations to come. The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss,” the statement continued.

In December of 2021, Avant’s wife, Jacqueline Avant, was shot during a home invasion at the family’s Beverly Hills mansion.

A close friend of Quincy Jones, Avant’s influence impacted the careers of a many celebrities and politicians, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; Michael Jackson; Jimmy Jam; Snoop Dogg; Terry Lewis; Whitney Houston; Jay-Z, among others.

Mark Ridley-Thomas’ Attorneys: “No Need to Incarcerate”

On Aug. 7, prosecutors asked a federal judge to sentence former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas to six years in prison. Ridley-Thomas was convicted on federal corruption charges in March.

In a memo, prosecutors stated that Ridley-Thomas “made his self-interested demands known” to a University of Southern California (USC) dean and sought favors from the university for his son in exchange for county business.

In response to the prosecutor’s memo, Ridley-Thomas’ attorneys asked the judge to consider a range of 21 to 27 months in prison. They also requested a downward variance featuring no time in prison and a period of probation with home confinement, community service and a monetary penalty.

“There is no need to incarcerate Dr. Ridley-Thomas to protect the community,” his lawyers wrote in the memo. “The shame of his convictions is punishment and provides ample specific deterrence.” 

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer is scheduled to hand down her sentence Aug. 21.

It is uncertain how Judge Fischer will rule in the case, however, former USC dean Marilyn Flynn, who was charged along with Ridley-Thomas received a three-year probation sentence.

California Officials Travel to Kenya to Get Insights on Universal Basic Income

Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and state Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) recently traveled to Kenya to study a universal income program the country utilizes to support one of its most impoverished regions. The goal is to see if a similar program could benefit California residents as well.

In the towns of Kisumu County, Kenya that they visited, residents have received $25 a month for the past five years as part of the world’s largest guaranteed income project. GiveDirectly, the non-profit funding the $30M initiative, disburses millions of dollars to 20,000 individuals residing in 295 villages across the Western and Rift Valley regions of Kenya.

While a similar program in California would look vastly different due to the wide-ranging incomes found in the state, Mitchell and Haney were inspired by aspects of the project. The mobile money distribution system that villagers use allows individuals to receive cash transfers via mobile phone apps without being connected to a bank.

“Cash performs better than some of the other critical services that we in government prioritize,” Mitchell told the LA Times. “We create this cliff effect: if people do what we ask them to do like go to school or get a raise, then we drop them from the social safety net. My dream is for us to rethink the way we administer these programs and create a culture shift and cut some of the red tape.”

Existing programs in California are limited and in early development stages but have been met with support from the Legislature.

Gene Hale Foundation Donates $25,000 to Support College-Bound Los Angeles County Students

Last week, the Gene Hale Foundation, a non-profit based in Los Angeles County, donated $25,000 to the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC) Education Scholarship Foundation to support a program designed to assist college-bound students.

The recipients of these scholarships are students all from Los Angeles-area high schools, including Susan Miller Dorsey Dorsey High School, Crenshaw High School, Washington Prep High School, Jordan High School and Hamilton High School.

Hale and his wife, Crystal Hale, are dedicated philanthropists who support numerous charitable causes.

Crystal Hale and Gene Hale are holding the check in the center. Scholars L-R behind the check – Leah Sheffield, Hendra Benson, Hunter Langley, Jovon Reed-Brown, Chris Kariuki, Apriltroy Coleman, Heaven Watson, M’Kayla Weatherspoon, Neena Harris, and Aammarah Gage (courtesy photo) 

Hale is currently chair of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce and the Gardena Police Foundation. He also serves on the Los Angeles County Small Business Commission.


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