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Renatta Cooper Seat 2 PUSD BoardDuring Dr. Clark's administration, one could have made the argument that African American Administrators were over represented in leadership roles in PUSD. This is no longer the case . The over representation did not lead to a "closing of the achievement gap" or other off the charts academic gains by African American students. New superintendents are allowed to select their own leadership team, and so Mr. Diaz has reorganized the district offi ce and made his choices. As a result ,there are no African Americans in the current Leadership structure. The only senior level African American is the Communications Director and that is not a policy making position, it is a policy explaining position. As the only African American on the PUSD Board I have mentioned this to the superintendent and, intended or not, his policies have disproportionally negatively impacted African Americans, and that the situation was becoming a cause for concern. Nothing has changed since that conversation.

The educational crisis that concerns me is the number of African American students who do not take advantage of programs and opportunities that the district does offer, that would help them be more successful students. Athletes who go to tutoring only during the season of their sporting event are just the tip of the iceberg. It is easy enough to blame the schools, however, there are many things that happen outside of the classroom, to create a successful student, and as a community we are not doing enough of those things. Are the children in your family enrolled in the summer reading program at the library? Just asking. When I ran for offi ce, I thought if I told people, and made it plain, these are the problems and this is what we need to do, change would come. I am much less optimistic now. I am no longer certain how to reach the African American parents who are sending their children to PUSD schools. Many of them are not in church on Sunday, or at NAACP meetings Pasadena or Altadena Branch.

As for PCC, I think the story is a different one. For all the wonderful things about PCC, the high transfer rate and the successes of its graduates, as a community college its African American students have not shared in its success. California sends more students than any other state to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Pasadena is part of this demographic. Given the low transfer rate of African Americans from PCC into four year colleges and universities, knowledgeable parents and educators do not advise their African American students to follow this route, advising instead that any student who can, go into a four year college as a freshman. More and more of the African American seniors that I meet as a Board member, are choosing to go to other community colleges, Glendale and Mt San Antonio instead of PCC, if they are going to community college. I fear that PCC will have to earn the trust of our community, if they want to see a larger number of African American students on campus.

We are a community in crisis, no doubt about it. What do we do about it?

Renatta Cooper
Seat 2 PUSD Board

 

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