tv Discussion on Education Civil Rights CSPAN February 16, 2021 5:15pm-6:16pm EST
eastern, watch on the c-span.org or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> next, look at the connection it between education and civil rights, focused on public education especially in minority communities. this is an hour-long event hosted by the progressive policy institute. >> my name is kurt valentine. i am your moderator. this is sponsored by the reinventing schools project at the progressive policy institute. the project promotes a model of schools we call 21st century school systems, systems that provide parents with more choice, have more economy, and a return to more accountability. the purpose of this webinar is to discuss whether giving parents the power to choose where their children attend school as a right or a privilege. on the second day of black
history month, a month when america reflects on contributions and experiences of black americans to american history and our country, to ensure it lives up to its promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, we need to ask questions. his parent choice a civil right? is access to public education worthy of the vigor, attention and debate worthy of the attention of other rights we advocate for every day? let's get started. i will ask everyone to introduce themselves. and we are going to put up a poll. we want to know who is listening. we are going to give you an option to choose, are you a parent, educator, funder, journalist, advocate or policymaker? some fall into multiple categories as i do, but use the one you most identify with. it will give our panel guidance
in how to direct their questions. we will start with the tc young -- lit teacher jan -- leticia jan. ket -- leticia young. >> i am a mom of three. i have a daughter about to head to college. i have a high school freshman and a middle school or. >> down to florida. t willard fair. >> i am president of the urban league of miami, 82-year-old colored man concerned about education. >> my name is george parker. i am an advocate for quality
education for people of color, for all people, but specifically people of color. i am a 30-your mathematics teacher in middle school and high school in the district of columbia. i also was president of the d.c. teachers union during probably one of the greatest periods of our transition and chaos at the same time, but i thought we made some accomplishments. currently, i am a consultant with the national alliance of charter schools to advise them on support. >> javar jeffries from north new jersey. i am civil rights attorney by trade, i have litigated all types of education cases, racial profiling, economic justice for black and brown communities and am president of education reform now and democratic education reform, we are a national advocate organization that advocates educational justice
for low-income students and students of color. >> lessie who we have with us today. about 40% -- let's see who we have with us today. about 40% of those on this zoom are advocates for public education. we also have parents and educators. let's get started. in 1973 in a case called san antonio district versus rodriguez, it was established education is not a right guaranteed by the constitution. but last year, a former minnesota supreme court justice, alan page, called for constitution amendment give every child in minnesota an equal right to a quality education. the proposal came on the heels of new research by the minneapolis fed that showed in minnesota, it had some of the
worst educational disparities in the nation. i want to come to you first. in states where there is a constitutional right giving parents and students the right to quality education, do parents have legal standing to choose where their parents go to school if they can prove they are not doing that right? and if the parents came to you with this case in a state where the right to education was guaranteed, would you represent her or him, and what would be your strategy as an attorney? quacks -- >> great question. while there isn't a federal right to an education, many state constitutions, in fact a majority in the country, grant some qualitative right to any fact of education to students. states are all over the map in terms of what that quality benchmark looks like. some states say that is minimal,
to enable basic competencies in reading and writing. some have a more ambitious view, which talks about the type of education that will enable students to be competitive in the labor market and also practice responsibilities of citizenship. most courts that have determined these principles in litigation have required remedies within the traditional confines of public education, which is meant basically traditional public schools within the boundaries of what the school district is. we know the boundaries of the school gifted car connected to redlining at historical practices that lock in particularly poor people of color in urban communities that have suburbs and exurbs that are more wealthy and disproportionately white. once you connect your remedy to the district line, by definition you are or waking racial segregation. so we have seen remedies that
required more funding and absolutely no we need more funding in many schools, particularly urban schools. for too long they have been this invested in -- disinvested in. the type of curriculum, ways districts go about hiring, we have seen changes, but we haven't seen our remedies that enable parents to leave a school that isn't working based upon objective benchmarks, and go to another. that is where they have drawn the line. part of the reason is because that would mean piercing the district boundary and as much folks say they want to be progressive, they want lock and brown folk elsewhere. once you start choosing a school in my community, we don't want that. don't want that much justice.
that is part of the reason the remedy starts and stops at the district line. at if you are going to put a gate around the district, some of us want alternative public schools within these communities you are locking us into and have also said generally, you can't extend that, you have to be stuck within a traditional system where some schools work well, some have not. that is the place where courts have been. i absolutely would represent a client of the type described, to push against the assumptions of the ways in which these remedies have been drawn to either enable lower income students to get into higher performing schools, or to the degree we have was that aren't traditional, that are public charter schools in particular, have access to them any school that is working. i am a parent. i would love it if it could happen in a traditional public school.
children right now are in traditional public school. if it has to be a public charter school, that is what has to be, but whatever it has to be for young people to learn, the parent ought to have the right foot child in the environment that is going to fulfill that. >> thank you. quality education is the operative term. this term quality. 2015 required schools and states to create indicators to measure school quality. but long before, florida, your state, rated schools based on fourth-grade test scores. students were given a letter grade and students were given better choice and school options. at the time, nearly half fourth-graders in florida were severely below grade level relating. in 2016 governor scott of florida side hb 7029 creating
open enrollment, allowing parents and families to transfer from their assigned public school district to another. parents must provide transportation and a student must not be under an expulsion or detention order. the basis of the bill was to give parents more options to pick the best school. how is life different for parents of children in failing schools in florida now that it was in 1999 or 2016, before these rules were put in place in florida? >> you just outlined how the governor and others have made administrative and legislative amendments to be something new. but we still see most of the schools where children who attend our colored are still there children -- children who
attend gas who attend -- children who attend are colored and are still there. we just had an election, but those who make policy want the other person to win and they put out that the best person was anti-choice. they were able to marshal 200,000 black people who wanted a black person because the black person was not promoting what they wanted. given there is an outcry on behalf of those who have children in the schools to demand, not ask, to demand, and if they do not get a response to their demands, act accordingly. we keep having these conversations about how important it is for us to have choice.
but if education has value, then choice -- [indiscernible] >> how important was it in florida and around the country through essa, to give them a sense of how well their school is doing, so they can demand better? these report cards, this measure of quality, in many ways is the ticket parents are looking for to the able to go to government officials to demand better. can you talk about that, t. willard? t. willard: i have 13 schools in my educational village. they are all underperforming. they will continue to underperform until the attitude of the parents values education. there is no suit for can value
placed on education by the person to whom the children belong. so the choice is a choice for those who understand the value of choice. but the majority of people in my district send their children to school because the law says that they must go there, and they are in compliance with the law. so and still we were store value to education, if the parents believe no matter what the circumstances are, their life could be better, that does not exist in our city. we send that there because the buses will miss their, -- we send them there because the law says we must send them there, and we must send them there so we can get our welfare checks. >> you have made progress and oakland and los angeles parents
filed a lawsuit accusing education liters of violating the state constitution by denying traditionally underserved students equal access to educational opportunities during this covid pandemic? the group of what you are a co-founder is a party to this lawsuit. how are you and other leaders, families and organizations able to organize parents around this lawsuit, and what can organizations around the country learn from you in california? >> first, i need to pick my mouth up off the floor for a second, on what i just heard. parents do care about their kids' educations. they care about their kids' educations, especially black and brown families. because when you think about how much they overcome, given that some of us have the privilege of taking our kids to school, and
we have income coming in with no problem, but for apparent stability fighting for their kids' educations, they have to still figure when you ask the question about how we did this and organize parents, it is really how could we not? our parents are fed up. they are fed up. they are fed up with a system that continues to fail their family generation after generation. grandma went to the school, mom went to the school. both left the schools barely able -- a strong family tree. somebody says enough is enough. this baby is going to college. i'm going to do whatever i need to do. it's important to share with 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? that is why i think it is important to have parent advocacy groups like the oakland reach, because we then have the opportunity to really educate families about this system has failed them. many of them have gone through the schools. this is how it looks on this end. a lot of parents don't know. they are running like guinea pigs, but they don't have a sense of why they are not getting ahead. the reason we jumped on this lawsuit was because our parents are tired of talking about problems. we know our problems. it is all about solutions. the reason we jumped on this lawsuit is this is not a do something lawsuit, this is a -- we stepped into the gaps of what was not being taken care of by the state or local district in terms of educating our
babies. we built the black panther mentality up. then, we were like, ok, wait a minute, we shouldn't have to do this. we shouldn't have to pull all these resources together. what's happening in every other city in california and across the country providing literacy and these pieces? for us, it's like we have to run parallel track. we build and we fix. we have to build our own, we are going to build our solutions, but we also want to fix the system that puts them in a position where we have to do this work and educate our own children. curtis: i'm glad you said that. it is not either or. pray while moving your feet. you demand more, but you also act as well. the next survey question. we will throw this on the screen. it's a question around this idea of adequate versus quality, and
you have 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 simply an advocate education? we will allow you to take that survey. while you are doing that, i will throw it over to 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 equal protection claim, but agreed although the united supreme court left the door open just a crack for reconsideration of this 1973 decision that i mentioned earlier around there not being a guarantee in the u.s. constitution for education, we interpreted the crack to allow the courts to consider a case in the future that alleges students
are receiving education that is totally inadequate. we use the term totally in inadequate as a means to say if you can prove this, this is worth reconsideration. so, george, totally inadequate is the term i want to talk about. how would you define inadequate? let me give you some cues. is having an unqualified teacher for 1, 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, if the parents in the schools, should those parents have greater options if their school is deemed totally inadequate? george: wow. you had a lot of questions there. let me first talk about the
inadequate versus the totally inadequate. i know earlier shavan was talking about some of the states that have civil rights clauses regarding education. that adequate could be interpreted as an eighth-grade education. today, an eighth-grade education, if adequate means eighth-grade education, it's far subpart to what is needed in today's world. in fact, kids who graduate with a 12th grade education still need more in this new, education technology, etc. in terms of defining totally inadequate, i don't think we can do it until we first can define adequate, because what we have to compared it to? a lot of the discussion 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 have a general consensus of what does a quality and successful school look like? one of the difficulties -- i heard you lakisha were you set a lot of parents don't know. one of the things we never clearly defined for parents especially in underserved communities is 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? i think until we can define what a high-quality school is -- i just think the word is adequate. the use of the word adequate sets a low bar. i don't want a doctor who is
adequate. i don't want adequate care in the hospital, i want high-quality, superb care and that is what our students deserve. back to your question about how would i define it? i don't think i can really define it except using a rubric that tells us here is what quality education is. here's what highly adequate education is. in terms of unqualified teachers, i want to make a brief distinction between an unqualified teacher and an uncertified teacher. because in the no child left behind bill, there was a lot of emphasis about uncertified teachers. unqualified teachers, period, should not be teaching anybody. that means you don't have the ability. you wouldn't want an unqualified physician. that is different than schools having uncertified teachers because there are a lot of
person to bring real life experience to the classroom who may not have a teacher's license, but they have real life experiences. they have a lot to share with kids about the real world to show them how to survive and succeed. i think unqualified, that is definitely -- a kid should never have three unqualified teachers in a row. uncertified is questionable because you could bring a knowledge base. some uncertified instruction could be acceptable because of the knowledge that is important and your ability to implement that knowledge to kids. there was one other thing you asked. failing schools. if we can ever define a failing school with a rubric that is comprehensive for children. should parents have options if a school is failing? i would even want to go farther and say parents should have options even if the school is
not failing. i taught 30 years in a public school system, traditional public school system. one of the difficulties with the traditional public school system is like trying to turn around the titanic, right? it is so large. until you've got to turn, you take more time to turn around. whereas if you have a variety of schools with opportunities for students, you can turn it around like a boat. that is one of the problems with the traditional public school system. it is a system and with any large system, there is bureaucracy. one of the most difficult things i found as a union president when we were trying to get things moving in d.c. is working through the bureaucracy is probably more frustrating than the fact goals are failing. -- schools are failing. having a clear-cut path to schools that address the needs of students -- right now, my belief is our school system, we
take our students and adapted them to our traditional public school system, as opposed to taking schools and adapt the schools to the needs of the students. curtis: thank you. let's talk 2021. we're under a pandemic, a large number of our school district are either virtual or hybrid. we just had an election where the united states elected a democratic president and a democratic senate and control of the house. a lot of that support and vigor from the election came from the support of places like the teachers union, as you mentioned earlier, george, you are a leader of the local affiliate. let's talk about this idea of the democratic party and this idea of education and civil rights. making a case for education and civil rights is not a new concept. in 2008, leaders from the democratic party like al sharpton, roger wilkins, cory
booker met at the democratic convention to announce the education equality project. the project challenged officials, union leaders and others to view as the foremost of a rights issue of the 21st century. 13 years later, shavar, the democratic party leaders see access to quality public education as a right for all or a privilege reserved only for some? shavar: absolutely. i will say quickly, too, because i have to stand up for black parents. black people from the time of the slave code when it was illegal for black people to access education -- black parents are more engaged, more involved in their kids' education than other communities. as a former school board member, i cannot count the number of meetings that i went through
where hundreds of black parents are cussing me out every month about what was not happening in the schools. how many churches you would go to, parents lined up to cuss me out about what happened with school street i have to speak to s. i have to speak to that. by large, our black parents are doing everything they can to make sure their child has more opportunities than they do. in terms of the democratic party, no question. the democratic party is very strong in terms of educational equity. particulate on funding, the democratic party has led in terms of greater investments in public education throughout this country. linda baines johnson was behind title i. the great expansion we have seen in public funding over the last 30, 40, 50 years. we have seen democrats at the forefront of that. even in a lot of our cities where we had significant reform activities, democrat mayors, democrat school board members, state legislators are driving
that. even now with president biden, he wants to make college debt-free for families that make less than $125,000. that would be historic. he wants to fully fund the iadea. that would be powerful in terms of what we need to do for young people. democrats have really been strong and leaving on the funding issue. i'm a very strong democrat, 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? we have to have a focus on equity, even free college. that is great but that is part of the conversation. what about the legacy preference? i'm a proud graduate of duke university. duke did not allow black folks to attend until 1963. early decision, you've got to agree to go to the school before you know the financial aid package. if you are family living check to check, you cannot agree until you know what the financial aid
package is. we have colleges where the completion rates are below 20%. we have to have a can ability there -- accountability there. we have to oftentimes push democrats on equity and accountability. after the check is written, after support to the system, now you have to perform for the child, the student. the results have to be there . we understand educators have a very difficult job. we love our educators. i believe they are the most aboard professionals in this country. we need people to do hard things. we have to hold the accountable providing education opportunities our students deserve and have a focus on equity. there's conversations now on capitol hill about increasing teacher pay. totally support that. we also support saying we have to get our highest performing teachers and even pay teachers more who teach in the most high poverty schools. we cannot just have a one-size-fits-all approach. we have to allocate our
resources in those ways to bring a greater return for our students, but ultimately, we have to demand the return. we started talking about the legal mandate, whether it is adequacy or higher quality. at the end of the day, the legal principle is a fantasy if there's not actually accountability to make sure it is being delivered to our students every day. curtis: before we come to you, george, i want to touch on the point of adequacy versus quality. 98% of those who voted say every state should -- state constitution should include a guarantee of quality education. that should be the promise and it should be up to us to go back and demand that promise. george, do teachers unions see access to quality public education as a right or privilege? george: i think overall -- let
me say this, i don't speak on behalf of of the nea, although i am a union member. i'm a former union president. i want to make it clear, i am not speaking for the nea. um, i think that unions -- i believe unions are serious in terms of wanting to see kids educated, but nothing unions to some degree have conflicting views. for example -- i heard shavar talk about the democratic party needs to be pushed on some issues. the other thing the democrat party has the push unions on is more accountability. as the union president, and i will be very honest, up until i had this this a-ha moment of quality education for kids, i didn't have a teacher that was a
bad teacher. that's ridiculous because we've got bad folks in every profession. i'm just saying, the democratic party has the push unions more on accountability and quality instruction. that is one of the things that i think is going to be important. i do believe unions from a philosophical standpoint would support quality education as a civil right. again, i am not speaking on behalf of of the decision-makers. i'd be very surprised if unions wouldn't get behind any type of legal action that would guarantee kids a quality education. regarding how unions view other schools outside the traditional public school, this is where i think the democratic party has the 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. this is about education, a quality education. and any system or any school that can provide a quality education to an african american kid, kids of color, they should be attending, it should be qualified. curtis: as a follow-up -- i asked you if unions should seek access to quality education as a privilege. what about access to a school that provides quality education versus one that is not providing them that quality education? do you think they support access to a quality schools for those students not receiving quality education where they are? george: i cannot speak from the hearts of what the union leaders feel at this point. but i can say from my experience, and even sometimes as a 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. exclusively. i think that is one of the problems we have in terms of why democrats have to push unions because there is friction between traditional public schools and public charter schools. both are public schools, but i think traditional public schools see charter schools as kind of stepping it on their exclusivity with teachers at the traditional public schools. i think democrats have to push that. i do believe union leaders definitely want to see kids in high quality schools, but they will have to be pushed on understanding high-quality schools cannot be limited to traditional public schools who are not doing a very good job at this point educating black and brown children. curtis: we have one last poll question.
this is the idea of right versus privilege. this last question for those in the audience. the question is should choosing where their child attends school be a right or a privilege of every parent? 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 the are some that are already doing that now. as we are moving again forward to what this looks like actually in practice, not just theory, and those listening saying that all sounds great. every child should have a quality education, but there are not enough options. so, in theory, making school choice a right rather than a privilege sounds fair, but how can we ensure there are enough spaces at so-called quality
schools for all who parents decide they want to get their child? t. willard, what is your response to those who say try to give every kid in america access to quality education is just not feasible? t. willard: it is feasible. we simply must have the will to make it happen. dade county public school is getting ready to write next five-year plan. the 13 public schools in the city can be just as right as the non-public schools. it can be done. the fact it is not being done. the school system has to make it happen. if they don't make it happen, those who are already privileged will continue to be privileged. curtis: lakisha, again, soun
ds really promising in theory, in practice. you are in california, oakland, you are on the ground. you will leave this meeting and continue to do the work. what are the barriers to making every school a quality one? lakisha: the people have to know. the people who are responsible for making sure. their kids are not in the schools they teach in. they have picked the best for themselves. there is no personal skin in it, right? so, a huge issue with that is also the fact 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 are talking about right now, unions and this or that -- they
are not thinking about that on a day-to-day basis. they are dropping the kids off and trying to figure out if their kids are going to be able to read. i have to give a shout out to because i am looking and seeing our cousins in memphis -- sarah. i put this out there because until you really, really start educating families about the way the system circulates above them, right, there is no way we can get quality. then, when our parents understand -- here's the trick. as soon as our parents understand what quality is, then we realize we don't have access to it. even in the system where you can choose, then everybody is clamoring to get into those few schools that i feel like a performing better. that's why i go back again to the fact when you are on the ground and you are really trying to change this systemic issue, you have to run parallel track. for us, it was like an opportunity for policy that would give our families
preference in high-performing schools against what? we also launched literacy campaigns to make sure the school down the street was doing better than having 5% of kids reading at grade level. you have to pull every single lever you can. i hate to say this because i think we put too much on black folks, black and brown folks. i'm saying black folks because it is black history month, but our organization represents african-american and latino families. that is a big burden to put on families. when you have privilege, you look at the data and make a left turn. this system just falls on -- like, every bit of revenue are school district gets, the get it off the back of black and brown families who they never bring to the table. if all of our families left our school district, it would collapse. we are what's holding it up, but our voices have been sort of dismissed.
so, i think what's keeping -- i know you will have another question on this -- i want to say this to folks out there, especially parents. i don't want to come here talk about parent issues and whatever. we as parent leaders and movement builders, we have to build the solutions that we know work for our communities and force this system at the local and state level two adopt it. we keep saying we are not going to wait on superman. we can say no one is coming to save us. what are we doing to save ourselves? we will talk more hopefully in the latter part of this about what we put into place. so much of what is building our power in oakland is the ability to build what we know our community needs and hold local and state systems accountable for replicating it. keep banging on your door to
keep doing better by me 50 years later after my grandmother already graduated from high school and couldn't read. i have to put something in front of you to tell you we can take care of our own and you better replicate it. that is what i want to bring to the table. we know the problems. some of us have language around those problems but ultimately, our parents know they have been screwed. they are asking how do we fix this? so i'm not running in that hamster wheel all the time. again, when we get to that part, we will talk more about what we created and what we built that has actually seen her kids reading that were not reading in remote learning. we are not here to play no games when it comes to our kids. and we are not going to be waiting for a system that we claim has failed us for decades until they get their act together during a pandemic. we're looking for the system that was telling us before the
pandemic to all of a sudden serve us better during the pandemic. no. that is when you really pick up community. that is when you really pick up muscle and you build your own. especially as parents, because guess who has access to the parents? groups like the oakland reach, right? that's what's key. i look forward for we close this out talking exactly what those solutions should look like. curtis: we will get there, but i want to go to this final poll. the people have spoken. we asked those in our audience whether choosing where your child could attend school should be a right or a privilege. 93% said it should be a right. there's clearly energy behind this. there's clearly a demand for better. obviously, parents are more educated and understanding about what they are getting 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. how do i make the two come together? as we're moving towards the closing out or our conversation about what's next, i definitely appreciate your point around how a lot of these conversations devolve into here are a list of instructions for black parents to go out to do and fall on their shoulders. we have seen every day on social media, on television, people on 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 conversations? how do we get people who may not have children in public schools, who may not be directly affected -- who are the allies?
this will come to everyone and i want you all to speak freely. some believe it is time for a movement to make quality education a right in every state through amendments of the state constitution. if need be, 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 for their children, as florida and other states have tried to do. do you all agree that it's time that we do this? if so, what should leaders around the country -- 40% of those on this call are advocates. they are saying george, shavar, lakisha, t. willard, ok, you got me. what's next?
anyone can jump in. lakisha: i can jump in. go ahead. shavar: i thought george was jumping in, but if you are going to jump in. curtis: go ahead, lakisha. lakisha: mine won't be that long, so go ahead. curtis: all right, shavar, go ahead. shavar: it is 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 is some litigation in detroit and other places 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
limitation. that's not to say we don't do it but we should be intentional about how many resources we place in that basket versus have any resources we place -- my argument is empower black people. my argument is we know how to treat our community better than anyone else. when we empower black people, that holds everybody accountable. black people have more choices that will hold a public charter schools accountable, it will hold the traditional schools accountable. parents aren't thinking about traditional public schools, they are thinking about teaching my child. if you do that well, they will do that for you. my view is we need to have more focused and attention on the execution side, creating a movement around what empowering 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 states constitutions.
ultimately, the railway sustainably in this context will be we have to overtake the political process. the judicial process is a very long process. even when you think you've won, you've got to go back to court. even when we get that win, the judge says right to education, all the schools will keep doing the same thing they've been doing which means we have to keep going back to the court to say these district are not doing what you said. you will be on that merry-go-round for decades. we saw this post-brown. we saw that in 1954. we thought that would be a breakthrough in terms of desegregating public education. that was not necessarily about quality. that is a whole other conversation that is really about desegregation. that didn't happen. american public schools are more segregated now than they were at the time of brown. i would caution putting too many resources around let's file more
lawsuits, let's get another piece of paper that says we have a right. more resources on the political organizing, organizing a family and parents that would let mayors, governors and school board president say if you don't empower more options, we will get you out. we will elect lakisha young and other leaders like lakisha, they will be making the decisions because they are more in line with our value. lakisha: you have to let me go. shavar just opened up the door. go ahead, george. i didn't know shavar was going to do that. george: i think there's probably some type of federal legislation in terms of having a quality education nationally which can help set the tone of focus. one of the difficulties we are going to have and i think there is a legal process and is long.
politically, we have to set a tone. i think some type of national legislation that can help to focus us on quality and a right. i agree, having the right does not necessarily mean it is enforced but it can help psychologically to get people to focus on this. one of the bigger problems is going to be all of us having to look introspectively. even within the educational community, there's a lot of devices in terms of what we should do in terms of where we are heading. it is one thing to have a right, but it's another thing to now define how to we assess what that right is an implement that right? coming to a consensus among all of the groups, what does quality look like? what does a quality school look like. even as a democratic party,
those of us who support democrats, we've got to do some internal searching to decide what do we mean by a quality education? what do we mean by racial equity? we use words but it does not mean we are all on the same page. i think having some national dialogue about it helps get us on the same page about how do we measure this. curtis: lakisha? lakisha: george, that sounded -- a philosophical perspective, we ain't got that kind of time. ok? [laughter] we don't. i think we know. every time we turn around, everybody is like we need to step back. george: we can walk two lines at the same time. lakisha: you can, but you know what happens -- i will walk you
through the whole idea. we do need to walk two lines but we end up not walking that second line. we talk a lot and we have a lot of dialogue. i will piggyback -- piggyback which of our is saying. this lawsuit is for us to push the system to do the things we already created. this lawsuit is not one lawsuit because people forget about lawsuits next week. it is really about how do we leverage this lawsuit to make sure what we built in oakland -- i want to talk about what we built because i think there are people on this webinar who are like what are the solutions? let me walk you through something this didn't just happen in oakland, it happened across the country. covid hit. kids are out of school, parents lost connection to teachers. kids and parents have lost connections with teachers. they are not in class, they have
not heard or talked to their teachers. let me add another piece, parents don't have technology infrastructure in their home. they may have an ipad or computer and may not have good internet access. we are about to go into a pandemic where we have kids in communities that have already been behind. they have no connection with the teacher. there waiting for the teachers union to negotiate how many hours per day. nobody's got the parents' phone numbers because we don't often build elation ships with our community. we are so busy working on, let's get the kid right. we don't oftentimes respect black and brown families and how critical parents are being at the table. but in matters now that the pandemic it. guess who has the phone number? we have the phone number. do we want to try to turn our families in this pandemic back into a system that's been
failing them for generations? or i we going to listen to our families and build what we've been wanting this whole time? do you know how little progress we make banging on doors? do you know what little progress we've made even in so much of the work that i believe the oakland reach has done? it has never been to me impactful as to what we've done during this pandemic. why? because we have the opportunity to build the solutions that our families needed. what we do is what we call the virtual family hub. that virtual family hub hired te achers, good teachers, quality teachers to teach our babies how to read, ok? every family had a family liaison. our families need support. we provided a system for families. if you have to figure out how to keep the lights on and make sure your child is educated, that is too much. let's help out with that little bit. we also provided our families
stipends at the end of our first phase. at the end of the first phase, this is what i'm telling you about what parents can do. 60% of our k-2 students went up two or more reading levels on the districtwide assessment, reading assessment, and 30% went up three or more. we have kids that were reading at the end of five weeks over remote learning. please, i don't want to hear anybody telling us what can and can't happen, how underfunded we are, how much money we don't have. california used to be much better funded. anything you want to do right, you can do right. that is why it is important for us as parent leaders and parent movement builders to make sure we are forcing these systems to adopt it. this was an amazing opportunity for us to step over the systems that have been failing us and
saying if you are going to give us money and resources to do it, we will build our own. we have been running that hub. we have seen kids reading better, families feeling more supported and empowered. parents created that. the system did not create that. but, we don't have time to wait, you guys. we don't have time to wait. i am looking around on the panel and saying, one, please don't ever say parents don't ever care about their kids because i've never seen parents like our parents care more about their kids and deal with some of the issues they dealt with. i went to college. i'm a first generation college grad and not trying to be the last. i don't have a legacy so we have to work hard. we could go sideways at any moment. there's a lot of folks trying to have their first lakishas, right? you're trying to have the first kid go to college. the child is in the fifth grade and you get a pandemic, what do you do? what do you do? and you lost your job, and
you've got a family member in your house with a pre-existing condition. it goes on and on. i just want to really put out there that what we are saying to california, what we are saying to oakland is do this. we're not waiting on you, we're not asking for you to come up with the solutions. now we are holding you accountable. curtis: we are at time. t. willard, i want to give you the final word. you been doing this a long time. you been in the trenches. what is your final word on how we move forward? t. willard: the public school system is now in the process of drafting this next five-year plan. i think it is our responsibility to make sure that plan incorporates all the things we talked about today. we have a golden opportunity to
influence what's going to go into the plan. we plan to do that. we plan to make sure that as they define this five-year plan for the fourth largest pool district in the u.s., that we take into consideration all the things we talked about today. the process normally happens is we have a great discussion and we go back to church and designed the plan that perpetuates how they do it. we talked about the democratic party and what it is doing. jim clyburn's position on all this stuff that we are talking about. he's probably one of the most powerful people of color that we know in this whole process. i've got two school board members who supposedly referenced all the things that we talked about. allow people to run because of
our conditions and behave like they don't know what our conditions are. so, part of our discussion is making sure we look at the condition of those running for public office that will be in the position to talk about these policy needs we have. also, make sure if they don't do what they are supposed to do, we punish them. i think the pandemic, as the keisha pointed out, provided us with an awesome opportunity to be involved going forward. we were the only ones who did not support going back to school. i refuse sending children that was murdering before the pandemic. we came up with an arrangement. at the end of the day, we have an obligation to take full advantage of this opportunity.
curtis: i believe dr. king was right. it is up to us, all of us for every generation to hold our government accountable to its promise. to cash in that promise of equality -- a quality public education wherever it may be. we agreed on that today. the question is what do we do with that? i want to thank my panelists for joining me today, everyone who login, everyone watching on c-span. thank you for engaging with us on this conversation during this black history month as we discussed and chart a path to ensure that public education, that quality public education, that parent choice is a civil right. thank you all so much. now let's get back to work. >> bye, everybody. >> with the biden administration now leading the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, follow the latest on c-span.org/coronavirus. search c-span's coverage of news
conferences as well as remarks from members of congress, use the interactive gallery of maps to follow the cases in the u.s. and worldwide. go to c-span.org/coronavirus. on thursday, the house financial services committee hearing on the recent volatility in the stock price of gamestop and decisions by some companies to restrict trading of the stock. witnesses include robin hood ceo, citadel ceo, melvin capital management ceo, reddit ceo and financial analyst keith gill. watch live thursday on c-span, online, or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> during their winter meeting, mayors from across the united states talked about gun violence
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