S.B. Schools Host Black Family Summit
By Dianne Anderson
Not a barbecued hotlink, hotdog or meatless alternative should be left on the table at the upcoming Black Family Summit.
Altogether, there are about 4,500 African American students in the San Bernardino City Unified School District, and all of their parents are invited out to checkout the resources, and have an important conversation.
On Saturday, July 20, event organizers will serve up good eats while they listen to parents, and provide a safe space for real talk about what their students need to succeed. The event, hosted by SBCUSD and the District African American Advisory Council, will be held at San Gorgonio High School from 9:30 a.m. to 4pm, located at 2299 Pacific Street.
Dr. Charles Brown, who helped initiate the vision for the summit, said Black parents are not only invited to the event, but are needed to raise their voice and make decisions about education programs for their kids.
The summit is the place to do it.
He said the inspiration came by way of a similar event years ago, a model of parent engagement conceptualized by Dr. Judy White, then superintendent with Moreno Valley Unified School District.
In the past few years, local outreach has grown to support the vision for the Black Family Summit. Now with everyone on board, he said there is momentum toward fulfilling the African American Advisory Council’s strategic plan, and developing the improvement plan for Black students.
“The summit is what we thought was the very next best step in terms of making sure that parents understand the link that their voice has to move the dial with these different initiatives, and that their voice matters,” he said.
Under the theme, “Rebuilding Trust in the Village,” the summit also wants to establish a new foundation of support.
“This is how you can become active and supportive of your scholar to be successful in the educational system. This is how to better advocate for your student,” he said.
Gwen Dowdy-Rodgers, vice president of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, said the goal is to get parents out, but keep them coming back to access support through their African American Parent Advisory Council.
If students have slipped behind in grades, she said sometimes parents feel alone, but they can receive free help and resources that they need. The event also serves to reset the community connection for Black parents, helping them to get linked up with board members, teachers, and to know their representatives.
Keeping students on track through the major milestones of school life is a big concern. The event will focus on those entering kindergarten, the transition to middle school and critical that transition is to high school when some kids fall off the radar.
Another area of concern, particularly for Black students, is accessing extra help in math, even as expectations aim higher as technology speeds up. These days, legislators are pushing to increase math classes.
Robots seem to be getting all the good jobs lately, and kids need math skills like never before. She said resources are available, all free, and all parents have to do is show up.
She knows that parents want the best for their students.
“Every time you ask a parent, they want their kids to go to college, but we have to ensure that they know those options are there for them. You can’t avoid math, you can’t avoid English. They have to be in those classes,” she said.
At the event, Black honor roll students will be recognized for their hard work, which also offers a way for other students to get inspired by their successful peers.
At this point, she said that every school should have an African American Advisory Council Leader, which is totally parent-run and driven. They are always looking for Black parents that want to get involved.
“We also want to encourage parents to be parent group leaders on campuses, and advisory council leaders, it’s perfect because we get them in the role and they create networks that will support themselves, parents and the kids,” she said.
The upcoming summit comes by way of LCAP funding support, which requires authentic parent engagement, meaning that it’s all about the focus on the parent needs, to hear their concerns, to empower them.
“No concern or suggestion is going to go by the wayside. We want to hear from you because you the parent know what your child is struggling with, we want to fill those gaps.”