School discipline forum addresses dropout crisis

By Kevin Shelton

On Sept. 5, The Pat Brown Institute held a forum in at the Fresno convention center. The topic: School Discipline and the Future. Many important names of the Central Valley attended as a audience to the event, Ceila Maldonado Arroyo [Trustee of Tulare board of education], Barbara Thomas [Fresno trustee, board of education] and Cal State Bakersfield. The audience was able to express their opinions with live polling.

The panel had four speakers expressing their knowledge from the 2011-12 records, in particular “zero-tolerance” discipline laws. The panel said willful defiance accounts for 42% of all suspensions in California, leading to more suspension, expulsion and higher dropout rates. Studies show more men of color [18-25] are more likely to graduate in prison than graduating in public schools, and African-American students are three times more likely to be suspended than white students. Fresno’s school district faces one of the highest rates of this crisis in California. Panelists in the PBI forum believe without active support in the school system, there will be no change. Now give yourself time to think, are you active?

Video by Antonio Flores and Kevin Shelton

Gregorio Montes de Oca, a fellow of The California Endowment with a focus on the Boys and Men of Color initiative, thought the forum was informative. “I think it’s important for the institute to create a public forum where the community can come and be educated on a issue and then make up their own minds.”

The goal of the Pat Brown Institute is to bring the right set of people in the room to promote dialog, debates and discuss good public policy. Every year the Pat Brown Institute conducts a California agenda series which sets out four or more meetings on critical public topics. During this series, PBI brings together some of the brightest thinkers who represent all sides of this critical issues.

The panelists at this forum were:

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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