I’d like to begin by expressing my condolences to all of the families who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19 and remind everyone that “safer at home” means the same as having no visitors while at home. In the shadow of this virus, the Pasadena Unifi ed School District is on the verge of potentially losing $15,000,000 in State funding based on the Governor’s May revise, for the 20-21 school year as public schools are projected to lose some $18 billion in Prop. 98 funds, (guaranteed public school funding for K-14). According to the California School Board Association, (CSBA), about half of the 13,000 school districts throughout the U.S. may be forced to make the deepest cuts to education spending in a generation. The districts most at risk share demographic profi les of student populations that are Black, Latino and low-income, sadly, that is not surprising. The school community must again, brace itself for the possibility of more cuts within PUSD.
As a PUSD School Board member in District 3, Northwest Pasadena, I am privileged to also represent every student in PUSD however, as I stated in a speech written to the Pasadena Alliance of African American School Educators (PAAASE), last year, due to the culture of our school community and the biases that exist towards students of color and those with socio-economic challenges I must be bold, courageous, intentional and steadfast in my advocacy on their behalf. Most recently, I successfully advocated for the choir and band rooms at John Muir High School to remain available for our students as part of the lease agreement with Pasadena City College.
An issue plaguing PUSD African American families, faculty and staff is the lack of affordable housing stock in Pasadena. Rents have risen to rates unattainable by working families with an annual household income less than $76k. Another issue impacting our students is the increase in homelessness. According to the. PUSD, 2019- 20 – Fall Norm/Census Day report, out of the 10,818 SocioEconomically, Disadvantage students in the district 75.6% or 1,339 are African American, 5.4% or 96 African American students are homeless. While in the 2018-19 school year out of 10,059, socially economically disadvantaged students, 66.8% or 1,277 were African American and 3.3% or 64 African American students were homeless.
PUSD can begin to address the housing issue plaguing the school community by providing workforce housing for its’ employees and affordable housing for its’ families. The Teacher Housing Act of 2016 affords school districts the ability to provide affordable housing specifi cally for school district employees and their families. This would enable PUSD to attract and retain seasoned faculty and staff and retain families. Further investigation into the legality and benefi ts of school district housing is underway.
There are many areas that could be explored that highlight the state of African Americans in PUSD however, one cannot ignore that the housing issue is a major contributor to the exodus of African American families from our community which has greatly impacted their enrollment in our school district.
If you have been trying to decide on ways to support our students and their families, some excellent options would be to fi rst, complete the Census then, if you are a parent, consider joining the African American Parent Council (AAPC), the School Site Council (SSC), and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). If you are or have ever been an educator, school district employee in any classifi cation, or a business owner or professional in Pasadena, consider joining the Pasadena Alliance of African American School Educators, (PAAASE). For more information on any of these options, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.