In April, The Journal published what we called, "The State of Black Pasadena 2009". In the article we addressed Education, Economics, Safety and Security. The response has been an outpouring of quiet discussions and proposals to resolve some of the problems in order for Black Pasadena to move forward. In recent days, the changing landscape has caused increasing request for a community forum on the issues and plans are being made to move ahead.
A few things can be discussed here about the changing landscape. In the area of education, the anticipated departure of the president of Pasadena City College, Paulette Profumo, may open up an opportunity to have a Black president at the college which has abandoned the Black community. Also, more and more people are questioning what is happening at the PUSD. There seems to be a purging of Black administrators in favor of White and Armenian administrators from Glendale and Diaz's hometown of Gilroy, CA. Like the fruit of Gilroy - garlic. This whole thing is starting to stink. Black students plus non Black administrators is a recipe for Black student failure. Sound familiar? Kind of like the Boys and Girls Club on North Fair Oaks nearly getting shut down because, even though they serve mostly Black and Brown, the administrators are all White. Hopefully, the ongoing discrimination lawsuit against them will cause some changes.
An article in the August 21, 2009 Star News indicated that the interim president of Pasadena City College, Lisa Sugimoto, is retiring. The article went on to say that "one other vice president is considering retirement. The only other vice president at PCC is Dr. Jackie Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs, also one of the Journal's 2008 Women of the Year, is not considering retirement. She is a giant in the education field having served as a member of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education for years and having served this community as a member of the Martin Luther King Coalition for many more years.
More about Dr. Jacobs: She has served as an administrator and professor at PCC for nearly twenty years. Before that she served as a Director and Associate Vice President at California State University at Northridge for nine years. She is supremely qualified to serve as President of PCC. While this endorsement is probably premature, I think that sometimes we need to be more pro active in letting our wishes be known.
Dr. Jacobs is a knowledgeable administrator and a mover and shaker that makes things happen. When the recent economic condition caused the college to announce that they would not be having a winter session, it was Dr. Jacobs who in her quiet way found the money. She was just doing what she has always done, using her knowledge to make things happen. While at Northridge, she managed an $8 million dollar budget along with State Lottery funds and funds from various trust funds. No fanfare sought or needed; however, it is deserved.
When she was a member of the Pasadena Unified School District Board and there was a crisis at schools in the district such as no books for some of the schools, she sacrificed what some might call her dignity and was on the picket line fighting for the children to get the books. They got the books. For her it was commitment that put her on the picket line for the students. She fights for the students and we need to fight for her.
It is unfortunate that there is a rumor that she is retiring to move to another state. This is not true. It was a tragedy when she applied before for the presidency of the college, a particular influential member of the selection committee provided another untrue rumor about Dr. Jacobs. This was done by someone in the community who had a personal motive against Dr. Jacobs. I feel that by not having her as president, the college has suffered as a consequence in the meantime. This time, the college has an opportunity to do it right by picking the right person. Guess who?
Back to the original purpose of this column about education in Pasadena, as I indicated, there has been much discussion about what is going on in the education community. The PUSD system keeps grinding out dropouts and serving as a feeder system for the prison system rather that the college and university systems.
Someone recently called me and asked, "Do you think we need to SHUT DOWN John Muir High School and turn it into an Academy, or just close it up and ship the students out to other schools where they can achieve? The person said they were sick and tired of people, mostly Muir alumni, defending Muir while not lifting a finger or giving a minute to help improve the situation that is going on there. White folks are constantly working to make the schools where their children go, better. Black folks don't say anything until their kid drops out or is kicked out. Lots of folks need to read PUSC School Board member Renatta Copper's article in the Journal [August 20, 2009].
I suggest we keep moving forward as we look for someone to join Ms. Cooper on the School Board. Why should we have to have a School Board that is mostly white when the students are mostly not? Is it any wonder that the Black and Brown dropout rate is much higher than that of whites? But if we don't do our part in finding and funding candidates, then the white folks will do it for us, like the 50/50 by 2020 group did to guarantee there would not be another Black member.
As for the other topics regarding the State of Black Pasadena, I will deal with those later, however, as a preview of a few, I will say that the police chief has been busy getting rid of some of the Department's most respected Black officers and destroying their 20 or 30 year careers and their earned retirements, as he tries to find a job in other cities. Economically, there is much that can and should be done. I addressed some of those issues in my column last week on Opportunities [August 20, 2009].
My favorite example, of course, is that we keep patronizing businesses that won't give back to our community. I know they still won't advertise in this newspaper. Paper and ink aren't free yet. Our readers can help this Black business by asking these businesses why they want their dollars but they don't reciprocate in their community by even spending with the Black newspaper? However, we have witnessed this pattern for the last 20 years, and it's still the same. In upcoming issues, look for plans to move ahead.