tv Discussion on Education Civil Rights CSPAN February 17, 2021 9:06am-10:01am EST
[inaudible conversations] >> coming up live today on the c-span networks, house armed services committee looks at the covid-19 response at 11 a.m. eastern on c-span. on c-span2 at 10 a.m., there's a hearing on slavery reparations. and a look at broadband availability during the pandemic. >> next, a look at the connection between education and civil rights. focusing on improving public education, especially in minority communities. the progressive police institute hosted this hour long
event. >> my name is curt valentine and i'm your moderator for today. today's event is sponsored by the reinventing america's schools project housed at the progressive policy institute. the project promotes a model of schools that we call 21st century school systems or systems that provide parents with more choice and had more autonomy and returned for more accountability. the purpose of this webinar is to discuss whether giving parents the power to choose where their children attend school is a right or privilege. on this day, the second day of black history month, a month when america reflects on the krbl contributions and experiences to black americans and american history and lives up to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all. we ask the question, is it a
choice, is it worth the vigor, attention, debate for other rights we advocate for every day? let's get started. i'm going to ask everybody on my panel to introduce themselves and when we're doing that we'll put up a poll. we want to know who is listening in. we are going to give you an opportunity to choose, are you a parent, an educator, a funder, a journalist, advocate or a policy maker. many of you have many as i do, but who you most identify with and give our panel guidance how to direct their questions. we are going to start with you, latisha young out on the west coast, please introduce yourself, tell us who you represent. >> latisha young, the founder and co-founder of the oakland reach, i represent black and
brown families, in oakland, california. i'm a mom of three, a daughter about to head to college and a high school freshman and then a middle schooler. >> great. take it all the way down south to florida, brother t willis fair. >> i'm t willis fair, head of-- in miami, 82-year-old concerned about children. >> and right here. >> my name is george parka for people of all color, specifically for people of color. i'm a 30-year mathematics teacher in middle school and high schools in the district of columbia. also, was president of the d.c. teacher's union during probably one of the greatest periods of transition and chaos at the same time, but i felt we made
some accomplishments. i currently now i'm a consultant with the national life for public charter schools to advise on the school support. >> and last but not least, brother jeffries. >> from the great city of north new jersey, a civil rights attorney by trade and litigated all types of education cases, racial profiling, economic justice for black and brown communities. i'm now president of education reform now and education reform. we're a national advocacy organization that advocates for educational equities and low income students and students of color as well. >> thank you. and let's get the results up and let's see who we have with us today. >> great, we have about 40% of those on this zoom that are advocates for public education and that's how they most identify and we also have parents and educators as well, but it's one to give you all a taste of where we are and what
we're going to do today so let's get started. in 1973 in a case called san antonio district versus rodriguez, it established that education is not a right guaranteed by the u.s. constitution. but last year, former minnesota supreme court justice alan page called for a constitutional amendment to get every child in minnesota an equal right to a quality education. the proposal came on the heels of new research by the minneapolis feds that showed that in minnesota, what minnesota had some of the worst educational disparities in the nation and i want to come to you first. in states where there is had a constitutional right giving parents and students the right to a quality education, do parents have legal standing to choose where their children go to school if they can prove they're not getting that right? and if a parent came to you with this case, in a state
where they were-- where the right to an education was guaranteed, would you represent her or him and what would be your strategy as an attorney? >> it's a great question. just so everyone is aware, as curtis laid out, while there isn't a federal constitutional right to an education, many state constitutions, in fact, a majority of state constitutions in the country grant some qualitative rights to an effective education for students. states are all over the map in terms of what that quality benchmark looked like and some states say that's minimal education and some say basic 8th grade education to enable basic competencies in terms of reading and writing. and some like the great state of jersey where i'm from, talks about the type of education that will enable students to be competitive in the economic labor markets and to practice the responsibilities of citizenship and most that
incorporate the principles in the context of litigation have required a variety of remedies within the traditional confines of public education which has basically met traditional public schools, we know that the bounds of the school are red line, locking in poor people and particularly people of color and than the suburbs that are wealthier and typically white. by definition you're perpetuating the practices of racial segregation. we've seen remedies that have required more funding and we absolutely know we need more funding in many of our schools, particularly our urban schools. we know too long they've been disinvested. so that's a good thing. we've seen courts with advocacy measures in types of the kir
kurricula that are used and we krnt seen remedies that leaves the school that isn't working on proficiency and graduation rates to go to another. that's where they've drawn the line. part of the reason they've drawn that line part of that would mean piercing the district boundary and inasmuch as folks say they want to be progressive and be about racial justice, but they want to keep black and brown folks elsewhere. once you talk about can you choose a school in my community, we doesn't want that. and that's the reason that the remedy stops on the district line and then furthermore for other reasons, even those of us who said you're going to put a gate around the district, some of us want to create alternative public schools within these communities that you're locking us into, they've also said, generally speaking, you can't extend to that. you have to be stuck within the traditional system where some of the schools have worked well, some have not, and so,
that's-- says i would absolutely represent a client of this type you described, curtis, and frankly push again the way the remedies have been drawn to either to enable low income students to get into the high performing schools or aren't within the traditional public schools, but in the charter schools in particular and have access to any school, i'm a parent as well, a parent of two. i need my babies educated. i would love a traditional public school. my children right now are in traditional public schools. if it has to be a public charter school, that's what it has to be. for the children to learn, the parent has the right to put them in the environment to fulfill their potential. >> thank you very much. i want to come to you, quality education of the operative term
this term quality. the every student succeeds act, a report card of sorts for the schools quality. long before, florida, your state, traded the a-plus plan, which rated schools based on fourth grade test schools. schools were given letter grades and students at d or f grades had had greater choice of options. nearly half of fourth graders in florida were reading severely below grade level and you're a school founder as well. in 2016 governor scott behind sb7029 creating an open enroll option. by open enrollment allowing parents and families to transfer from their assigned school district to another. the parent must provide transportation and a student under a suspension option.
and how is life different for parents of students in failing schools in florida now than it was in 1999 or 2016 before these were put in place in the state of florida? >> life is still the same. you just out lined how the governor and others have made the administrators and legislative mandates to be something new, but life is still the same. you still see most of the schools where the children who attend are of color are still there. and the state, however, has changed. we just came out of an election where a black person was running against another person. it appeared that the black person was going to win, but those who make the policy wanted the other person to win and they pointed out that the
black person was anti-choice. therefore, they were able to marshal 200,000 black people to vote against the black person because the black person was not promoting what they wanted. so it's about attitude of the masses. until there's an outcry on behalf of those who have the children in the schools to demand, not act, but to demand and then if he they do not get a response to demands act accordingly, they will keep having the conversations how important it is for us to have choice, but until education has value then choice is really insignificant. >> how important was it in florida and around the country through essa, for parents to give the report card a sense of how well their school is doing so they could demand better? i think these report cards,
these measure of quality is the ticket that parent are looking to go to government officials to demand better. can you talk about that, t. willard? >> i've got 13 schools in my educational village. all of those are underperformed schools. they've underperformed since i was the chairman of state education. they will continue to underperform until the parents of the children value education. there's no significant value placed on education by the parents the children belong to. so it's choice for those who understand choice. but the majority of of the people in my district send their children to school because the law says they must go there. and they have completed or are
in compliance with the law. until we restore value to education until the parents believe no matter what the circumstances are, their life can be better. that attitude does not extend in mississippi and we send them because the law says, if we do not send them there, we may not get our welfare check. >> let's get a parents' perspective on this. >> you've made a lot recently, oakland and los angeles parents and students filed a lawsuit accusing california and its top education leaders of violating the state constitution by denying traditionally underserved students equal access the educational opportunity during this pandemic. and you're along with the could he list were party to this lawsuit how are you and other
leaders, other families and organizations able to surround people around the lawsuit and what can other organizations learn from you in california? >> first, i need to pick my mouth up off the floor for a second five seconds on that. what i just heard. i do have to start off by saying parents do care about their kids' education. they care about their kids' education especially black and brown families because some of what they've coming out. and for the parents to be fighting to are figure out the education and trying to fill
the-- our parents are fed up. they're fed up. they're fed up with the system that tints to fail their family generation after generation. grandma went to the school, mama went to the school, folks have left those schools, barely able to sort of build a strong, just like a strong family tree so somebody says enough is enough. these babies, this baby is going to college and i'm going to do whatever i need to do and i think what's important to share, even with some of the panelists, when you know better often times you can do better. so many folks just don't know what they can do to fight the system, right. and that's why i think it is important to have-- like the reach because we have the opportunity to education families how the system failed them and oh, this is why this
strike happened and this is how it looks on this end, right. a lot of parents don't know. they're kind of running like guinea pigs, but don't have a sense why we're not getting ahead. the reason we jumped on this lawsuit is because our parents are tired of talking about problems, right. we know our problems. it's all about solutions. so the reason why why jumped on this lawsuit this wasn't a do something lawsuit, this is a do this lawsuit. we expect the gap not taken by the state or local district in terms of educating our babies, and built that black panther up and results of our own and then we're like wait a minute, we shouldn't have to do this, we shouldn't have to pull these resources together. what's happening in every other city in california and across this country that doesn't have a virtual hub providing literacy and the pieces so for
us, i've shared with you, curtis, we've got to run parallel tracks. we're going to build our own, our own solutions and we want a system where we have to do this work and educate our own children. >> i'm glad you said that. i mean, again it's not either/or. it's sort of in the black church we say pray while moving your feet, right? and actually, you demand more, but you also act as well. so, here is our next survey question and we're going to throw this on the screen and this is a question around this idea of adequate versus quality and you've got to choose one. every state constitution should include a quality or adequate education. which one do you believe every state constitution should guarantee? is it a quality education or is it simply an adequate education. we're going to allow you to take that survey and while you're doing that i'm going to
throw it over to good brother george parker. in 2008 parents and students in rhode island brought a class action suit claiming they didn't have access to civics education. the judge dismissed the case and rejected that equality protection claim, but agreed that although the united states supreme court left the door open just a crack for the reconsideration for this, not being a guarantee in the confusion for education. he interpreted that crack to allow the court to consider a case in the future that alleges that students are receiving education that is totally inadequate. so he used the term totally inadequate as a means to say, if you can prove this, then this is worth reconsideration. so, george, totally and adequate are terms i want to talk about.
how would you want to define adequate-- inadequate, sorry. let me give you some cues. is having an unqualified teacher for one, two, three years in a row being totally inadequate? what about being in a failing school based on these ratings? is that considered totally inadequate? if so, should the parents who are in schools -- should there be options if that school is totally inadequate? >> wow, you have a lot of questions. let me first start talking about the inadequate versus the totally inadequate. i know that earlier shavar was speaking about some of the states that have civil rights clauses regarding education, that adequate could be interpreted as an 8th grade education. today an 8th grade education of
adequate 8th grade education is far subpar what is needed in this world. kid who graduate with a 12th grade education still need more in this new education technology and et cetera. so, but in terms of defining totally inadequate, i don't think we can do it until we first can define adequate because what do we have to compare it to? i think a lot of the discussions, even for those who may remember, no child left behind, a lot of the problems in implementing no child left behind is that it was implemented based on failing schools as opposed to successful schools. so we pretty much used test scores to decide whether or not a school was successful. so, what we never did was had a general concensus of what does a quality and successful school look like? well, one of the difficulties,
and i heard you talked about parents don't know and especially in underserved communities, what does a quality, high quality school look like? what are the ingredients? how do you know whether or not your school is of high quality. so, i think until we can define what a high quality school is, and i'm using the word quality because i think the word inadequate, first of all, the use of the word adequate sets a low bar, period. i look at it as in terms of a doctor. i don't want a doctor that is adequate. i don't want adequate care, i want high quality, superb care and that's why our students deserve so i think -- but back to your question how would i define it, it would be i don't think i could really key fine it except using to tell us what is quality education is, here
is what highly adequate education is and measure it against that. in terms of unqualified teacher. i want to make a brief distinction between an unqualified teacher and an uncertified teacher. under no child left behind there was talk about uncertified. unqualified teacher shouldn't be teaching anybody because that doesn't mean you have the ability. you wouldn't want an unqualified physician, but that's different than schools having uncertified teachers because there are a lot of persons who bring real life experience to the classroom who may not have a teacher's license, but their real life experience they've got a lot to share with kid about real world, how to survive accounting and other kinds of things. so i think unqualified, that's definitely, a kid should never
have three unqualified teachers in a row, but uncertified is questionable because you can bring a knowledge base. so some uncertified instruction could be acceptable because it's the knowledge that's important and your ability to implement that knowledge to kids. there was one other thing that you asked, failing schools. yeah, i mean, if we ever could define a failing school with the rubric with one that's comprehensive for children. should parents have option if a school is failing? i believe, i would even want to go farther to say parents should have options even if a school is not failing. because i taught 30 years in a public school system, right, traditional public school system and one of the difficulties with the traditional public school system is like trying to turn around the titanic. it's so large, you take time to
turn it around, but if you have a variety of opportunities for students, you can turn it around like a boat. with any large system there's bureaucracy and one of the most difficult things i found even as a union president when we would try to get things moving in d.c. is working through the bureaucracy is probably more frustrating than the fact that schools are failing. so having had a clear-cut path in schools that address the needs of students, right now my belief is that our school system we take our students and adjust them and them to the public school system as opposed to taking schools and adapt the schools to the needs of the students. >> thank you. let's talk 2021. we're under a pandemic. a large number of our school districts are either virtual or hybrid, and i thought we just
had an election where the united states elected a democratic president and democratic senate and controlled house. a lot of that support and vigor for the election came from the support of-- this is like the teachers union which, as you mentioned earlier, george, you're a leader of a local affiliate. let's talk about the idea of the democratic party and this issue of education and civil rights. making the case for education as a civil right is not a new concept. in 2008, al sharpton, joe klein, cory booker met at the democratic convention to announce the education equality project. the project challenged officials, union leaders and others, to view fixing public schools as a foremost civil rights issue of the 21st century. we're 13 years later.
shavar, dos the democrat leader seeing access to quality education as a right for all or as a privilege reserved only for some. >> absolutely. i want to say quickly because i couldn't-- i've got to stand up for black parents, you know, black people from the time of the slave codes when it was illegal for black people to try to access education to today. you watch and show that black parents are more engaged, more involved in their kids education than other communities and just as myself as a former school board member i can't count the number of meetings that i went to where hundreds of black parents are cussing me out every month about what wasn't happening in the schools. and how many churches you would go to, parent lined up through the pews to cuss me out about what wasn't happening in the schools and i just had to speak to that, you know, are there some that got to do more? absolutely, but by and large our black parents are doing everything they can to make sure that their child has more opportunity than they did. i want to say that.
in terms of the democratic party no question, the democratic party is very strong in terms of educational equity. i'm going to talk about in a second the issue to push the party. and democratic party has led in terms of greater public education through this country. lydon baines johnson behind title one and the great expanse in funding last 40, 50, years, democrats at the forefront of that and even in our cities, democratic mayors, democrat school board members and democratic legislators driving that and with president biden, president biden wants to triple title one which would be historic. he wants to make college debt-free for families under $125,000. so democrats have been strong and leading on the funding issue. now, we're-- i'm a very strong democrat and
very proud democrat. where i have to push some of my colleagues in the party is after we write the check what else do we have to do? one we have to focus on equity, even free college, debt-free college we hear about, that's great, but that's part of the conversation. what about the legacy? i'm a proud graduate of duke university. i love duke university. duke didn't allow black folks to attend until 1963. who is going to benefit. early decision you've got to agree to go to school before you know what the financial aid package is, and if you're a family living check to check, you can't go until you know. and so in addition to writing the check we've got to sometimes, often times push democrats on equity and on accountability and absolutely on k-12. so after the check is written, after we put support to the system now you've got to perform for the child, for the
student. the result has to be there and we understand that educators have a very difficult job. we love our educators and i believe they're the most important professionals in the country and they have a hard job and we need people to do hard things so we have to hold the system accountable providing the type of educational students our students deserve and make sure we have a focus on equity. there are conversations now about democrats on capitol hill about increasing teacher pay and totally support that and we also supported saying we've got to get our highest performing teachers and even pay teachers more to teach in the most high poverty schools. we can't have a one size fits all approach we have a greater return for students and ultimately we have to demand the children. i mean, we started curtis talking about the legal mandate adequacy or higher quality. at the end of the day the legal principal is illusory, it's a fantasy if there isn't accountability to make sure it's delivered to the lives of
students each and every day. >> before we come to you, i want to look at the point adequately versus equality. our poll. 98% of those who voted said every state-- every state constitution should have a guarantee of quality education. that should be the promise and that it should be up to us to go back and make sure the promise is met. so, george, i want to come to you. do teachers unions have access to quality education pass a right or a privilege? >> i think overall, and let me say this, i don't speak on behalf of the afp or nea, so i'm a union member, a former union president, i want to make sure i'm not speaking for becky in nea--
i think that unions, i believe that unions are serious in terms of wanting to see kid educated. and conflicting views and i hear about shavar talk about the democrat party and pushed on issues. and i think the others have to push union laws as more accountability. as a union president and i'll be very honest, right, up until i had this as as oprah called an a-ha moment for quality education about kids, i didn't have a teacher that was a bad teacher. and that's ridiculous. because we've got bad folks in every profession, but i'm just saying that democratic party has to push unions more on accountability and structure. you think r i believe that unions from a philosophical
standpoint would support quality education as a civil right, but again, i'm not speaking on behalf of the decision makers, but i think, i'd be very surprised if unions wouldn't get behind any type of legal action that would guarantee kids right to a quality education. there are some issues regarding how unions view other schools outside of traditional public schools and this is why i think democratic party has to push unions on to say this is not about whether a kid goes to a traditional public school or a charter school, or some other form of getting an education, that this is about education and quality education, and any system or any school that can provide a quality education to african-american kids and kids of color, it should be attending. it should be qualified. >> and as a follow-up, and again, i asked you whether the
teachers union is a quality education as a right or a privilege, what about access to a school that provides that quality education versus one that they may be attending that's not providing the quality education? do you think that they support access to a quality school for those students who are not receiving a quality education where they are? >> well, i can't speak to the heart-- from the heart before the union leaders feel at this point. what i can say from my experience and even sometimes as union president myself, i definitely wanted kids to have access to a high quality school. the problem was i wanted kids to have access to high quality traditional public schools. and with the-- exclusively and i think that's one of the problems that we have in terms of why democrats have to push unions because there's friction between public--
traditional public schools and public charter schools. both are public schools, but i think traditional public schools see charter schools as kind of stepping in on their exclusivity with teachers in a traditional public school and i think that democrats have to push that. union leaders definitely want to see kids in high quality schools, but they're going to have to be pushed to understand how they can't be limited to just traditional public schools who are not doing a very good job at this point educating black and brown children. thank you. we have one last poll question and this is the idea of right versus privilege. and this is the last question for those in the audience and the question is, should choosing where their child attends school be a right or a privilege of every parent? choose one. is it a right to send your child to a school in your district or outside of your district or is it a privilege
for some because we also know there are those who are already doing that right now? and so, here is -- as we're moving again forward to what this looks like actually in practice, not just theory and those who are listening in saying, you know, curtis, that all sounds great. every child should have a quality education, but there are just not enough options. and so, in theory, making school choice a right rather than a privilege sounds fair, but in practice how can we ensure there are enough spaces at so-called quality schools for all with students who flee or whose parents decide they want to get their children out of a failing one. so, t. willard what is your response to those saying trying to give every kid in america access to a quality education is just not feasible. >> it is feasible. we simply have to have the will to make it happen.
dade county public schools is getting ready to write its next five-year plan. what we're seeing is the-- can be just as right as the quote, unquote not schools in coral gables or-- what can be done the fact that it's not being done. the school system has to be quote, unquote to make it happen and if they don't make it happen, then those who are already privileged will continue to be privileged. >> lakisha, again, sound really, you know, promising in theory, in practice, you know, you're in california. you're in oakland, you're on the ground. you're going to leave this meeting and hit, you know, hit the pavement and continue to do the work. what are the barriers to making every school a quality one? >> because people have a--
the people who are responsible for making sure our kids have an out. their kids are not in the schools they teach in. they have picked the best for themselves, there's no personal skin in it, right, so, a huge issue with that on not just the out, it's also the fact that lower income black and brown families have not been at the table. they have not been at the table to be able to define what they want and what they need for their students. and they haven't even-- what we're talking about right now, unions and this and that, our families are not thinking about that on a day-to-day basis. they're dropping their kids off trying to figure out their kids are going to be able to read and that's why it's so important-- and i'm looking and seeing our cousins-- i'm not sure who else, sarah. i put this out until you really, really start educating families about the way this system kind of circulates above
them, right, there's no way that we're going to get quality. and then when our parents understand, oh, here is the trick, trick, even as soon as our parents understand what quality is, our parents don't have access to it. as soon as you can choice, everybody is clamoring to get into the few schools they feel are performing better. that's why i go back to the fact when you're on the ground and really trying to change this systemic issue you've got 0 to run parallel tracks, right. fors it was women and student policy, that would give our families preference in higher performing schools, guess what? we want a literacy campaign so that the school down the street is better than the 5 or 6% reading level. you can do everything you can possibly can and i hate to say this because i think we put too much on black folks, and black and brown folks, and i'm saying
black folks because it's black history month, but our records show black and latino families. and-- this system because falls on like every bit of revenue that our district gets, they get it off the backs of black and brown families, if every familiar one left it was collapse. our voices have been dismissed. so, i think-- -- i know you're going to have another question around this, curtis, is that i want to say this to folks out there, especially thinking about parents because i don't want to just talk about parent power and parent issues and whatever. we as parent leaders and movement builders, we have to
build the solutions we know work for our communities, enforce this system on a local and state level to adopt it. right, not going to wait on superman, right. we keep saying no one is come to go save us. so what are we doing to save ourselves. right? and we'll talk more hopefully in the latter part of this about what we've put into place, but so much of what's building our power in oakland is the ability to build what we know our community needs and hold hour local and state systems accountable for replicating it. i can't just be banging on your door telling me to do better 50 years later after my grandmother graduated from high school and couldn't read. i have to put something in front of you to tell we can take care of our own and you better replicate it. and that defines what is keen that i want to bring to this table from a parental perspective, we have the problems and some of us have
language around the problems, but ultimately our parents know we've been screwedment they've been asking how do we fix this and make it better so i'm not running in the hamster wheel all the. when we get to that part, cur tis, we'll talk about what is working for kids reading. we're not here to play no games. not here to play no games and not waiting for no system that failed us and through the pandemic. we're looking for the system that was failing us before the pandemic to all of a sudden serve us better during the pandemic. no, no, no, no, that's when you really pick up community and pick up muscle and you build your own, that's when you build your own, especially parents, guess have to access to the parents, groups like the oakland reach, groups like the memphis-- and that's what's key so i look forward to, before we close this out talking exactly about
what those solutions should look like. >> we're going to get there, but i want to come up with the final poll. people have spoken. when we asked those in our audience whether choosing where your child should attend schools should be a right or a privilege, 93% said it should be a right. and so, this is-- there's clearly energy behind this. there's clearly a demand for better. obviously, parents are more educated and understanding about what they're cutting from their local school and are saying, this is what i'm getting, this is what you told me i was promised, but there's a disconnect here. and so, how do i make this-- make the two come together. so as we're sort of moving towards, you know, the closing out or just sort of our conversation about what is next, and i definitely appreciate your point, lakisha, around how a lot of the conversations devolve into here
are a list of instructions for black parents to go out, to do and call on their shoulders, but we're seeing every day on social media, on television, people in the streets, marching, black lives matter, demanding equal rights, equal treatment under the law, on a variety of issues. the question is, how do we get public education into those? how do we get people who may not have children in public schools who may not directly-- be affected by this? where are the allies of the conversation? so i want to ask this question. this is going to come to everyone and i want you all to speak freely. some believe it's time for a movement to make quality education a right in every state through amendments, the state constitutions and if need be, and an amendment to the u.s. constitution. the consequence of failure would be giving the families of choice, giving families of
choice the right to other public schools or charter schools for their children, as florida and other states have tried to do. so do you all agree that, you know, it's time that we do this and if so, what should leaders around the country, listening in, 40% of those who are on this call are advocates. they're saying george, shavar, lakisha, t. willard. okay, you've got me on board, what's next. anyone can jump in. >> let's see. i'll jump in, go ahead, shavar. >> i thought george was jumping in. >> i'll jump in in a moment.
>> go ahead, will. akisha. >> i'm going to be long so everybody else go ahead, and i'll be quick. >> all right, shavar, go ahead. >> i would say it's a good thing to have a legal right. most states have some version of a legal right already. i think there should be a federal right. i know there's some litigation in detroit and other places to try to reverse the san antonio decision. my caution would be this, i don't know if we need another piece of paper articulating a right that in many places already exists. we need execution and implementation, right. it's not to say we don't do it, but i think that we should be intentional about how many resources we place in that basket, versus how many resources we place in at least my argument is, empower black people. right? my argument is we know how to educate our young people in our community better than anyone else and when we empower black people that holds everybody
accountable. right? so if black people have more choices to make that's going to hold the public charter schools accountable, the traditional public schools accountable, to lakisha's point, they're not thinking about public and-- i want an education for my child, if you're doing that well. if you're not doing that well they're coming for-- and empowering what black families look like, the litigation and the right conversation to be a part of that. most of this we can already do in most state constitutions and ultimately the real way things will change we've got to overtake the political process. the judicial process is a very long process, and even when you think you've won-- i'm a civil rights lawyer myself and you have to go back to court. and we get this right, the court says yes, rights to
education, and the schools are going to do the same things they're doing and lawyers have to keep coming back and saying, these 50,000 districts can't aren't doing what you said we'll be on the merry-go-round. in the 1960's we thought-- some people thought it couldn't be quality unless white peopled were there, too, and a conversation about desegregation. that didn't happen. america's public schools are more segregated now than at the time of brown. i would caution putting too many resources around let's get more lawsuits and another piece of paper that says we have a right and more on the political organizing, the organizing of families and parents, mayors, governors, school board members, if you don't have more option, we'll get you out and have lakish and more parents
like that-- . i'm going to jump. you've got to let me go after shavar because he opened up the door to the parents. >> okay, go ahead, george. i didn't know shavar was going to do that. >> and i think it's probably federal, type of federal legislation in terms of having quality education defined nationally and to help set the tone, focus, because i think one of the difficulties we're going to have, and i think there is a legal process and i agree that it's long, but politically we have to set a tone. i think that national, some type of national education to help us focus on quality and a right. and i agree that having the right, it can help psychologically to help people to get to focus on this.
i think one of the bigger problems and challenges is going to be all of us having to look introspectively because even within the educational community there's a lot of divisiveness in terms of what we've done and where we're headed. so it's one thing to have a right, but it's another thing to now define how do we assess what that right and implement that right as shavar said. to coming to a concensus among all of the groups, what does quality look like, right? what does a quality school like like? i think even as a democratic party, those of us who support democrats, right, we've got to do some internal searching to decide how, what do we mean by quality education? what do we mean by racial equity. we use words, but it doesn't mean we're all on the same page in interpreting what it means. so, i think that having some national dialog about it to help us all get on the same
page of how we pressure this would be important. >> lakisha. >> george, from a philosophical perspective we ain't got that kind of time. [laughter]. we ain't got that kind of time. so, we don't because i think we know. you know, every time we turn around somebody's like, we need to step back, we need to define quality. >> well, we can do it, like-- >> we can walk two lines at the same time. we don't have to do a lot at the same time. >> and what happens, and that's why i am going to walk through the whole idea of like, you know, trying to tell you who you to piece it together. we need to walk two lines, but we end up not walking the second line and we talk a lot and we have a lot of dialog and nothing gets executed and piggyback on what shavar is saying, this lawsuit is for us to push the system to do the things that we've already created.
right. this lawsuit isn't just some kind of lawsuit. people forget about lawsuits next week, right, it's really how do we leverage this lawsuit to make sure that what we build in oakland and i want to talk about what we built in oakland because i think there are people on this webinar who are what are the solutions, right? let me quickly walk you through something. so, because this didn't just happen in oakland, it had to happen across the country. covid hits, right. kids are out of school, parents want connection with teachers kids and parents have lost connection with teachers. they're not in class, they haven't heard or talked to their teacher, and oh, let me add another little piece to this, parents don't have technology infrastructure in their homes, right. they may have an ipad, they may have a computer that they use every so often and may not have good internet access so we're about to go into a pandemic where we have kids and communities that have already been behind, and they have no connection with the teacher. they're waiting for the teachers union in the district
to negotiate how many hours per day so we've lost three weeks, okay, nobody's got the parents' phone numbers, right, because we don't really build relationships often times like that with our communities. we're so busy focusing on let's get the kid right. we don't respect, we don't often times respect black and brown families and how critical parents are being at the table, but it matters now when the pandemic hits who has the phone numbers. guess who has the phone numbers, we had the phone numbers and we sat and thought do we want to try to turn our families in this pandemic back into a system that has been failing them for generations or are we going to listen to our families and build what we've been wanting this whole time? do you know how little process we make banging on doors? do you know what little progress we made, even if so much of the work that the oakland reach has done, it's never been to me as impactful as in this pandemic, why?
because we have the opportunity to build the students that are parents needed. what we built was what we called the virtual family hub. okay. na virtual family hub hired teachers. we hired 14 teachers over the summer, good teachers, quality teachers to teach our babies how to read. ... 60% of our students went up to a a more reading levels from the districtwide assessment, reading assessment, and 30% with of three or more.