Current Affairs

Coalition of Florida Organizations Urge Need for Equity in Accountability Policy

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Joint Press Release on behalf of 20 Florida organizations on the urgent need for equity in accountability policy

 

All children, including Florida’s quarter-million English learners, deserve schools with policies that help them to achieve their highest potential. Forcing children to experience repeated failure on high-stakes tests in a language they don’t understand causes students to feel incompetent and less likely to try. It robs them of their hope, steals their opportunity to achieve the American dream, and drives children away from school. Policymakers, teacher preparation institutions, and instructional leaders are left with inaccurate test results as the only data to guide their planning.

 

We are disappointed that the 2020 Florida Legislature did not heed the requests of the public or the leadership of the bipartisan and diverse group of sponsors and cosponsors of native language assessment bills. These bills would have required the Florida Department of Education to provide state content assessments in languages that students understand. We request that all newspapers and other organizations conducting interviews for this fall’s elections ask candidates for state office to declare their position on this issue. Voters deserve to know what to expect from those who seek their support.  

 

We are confident state policymakers will not continue to block schools from doing right by 10 percent of our students. We will be back in 2021 to ask the governor and legislators to give them tests in a language they can understand. Our students deserve legislative outcomes that advance equity and policies that produce improved outcomes for ALL students. Anything short of this fails our students.

 

Save their hope, help them dream, let them show what they can do.

 

Mari Corugedo

LULAC Florida State Director

mcorugedo@lulacflorida.org

 

Zelalem Adefris

VP of Policy & Advocacy

Catalyst Miami

 

Juana Brown
RCMA Director of Charter Schools
RCMA – Redlands Christian Migrant Association

 

Arlene Costello, Ed.D.

President

Sunshine State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (SSTESOL) of Florida

 

Maria R. Coady, Ph.D.

President

Florida Association for Bilingual Education (FABE, fabefl.org)

 

Neyissa Desir

Outreach Paralegal

Southern Poverty Law Center

 

Manuel Hartman

President

South Florida LCLAA Chapter.

 

Carla Huck, Ed.M.

President

SWFL TESOL

 

Linda Kearschner

President

Florida Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

 

Sadaf Knight

CEO

Florida Policy Institute

 

James Lopez

Executive Director

Power U Center for Social Change, Miami

 

Gepsie M. Metellus

Executive Director

Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center, Inc.

 

President Adora Obi Nweze

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 

NAACP FL State Conference

 

Kathleen Oropeza

Founder

Fund Education Now https://fundeducationnow.org/  

 

Carmen R. Pedrogo

President

The National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW)-Miami Chapter

 

Maria Rodriguez

Executive Director 

Florida Immigrant Coalition 


Kira Romero-Craft

Managing Attorney

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

 

Debbie Soto

President of the Board

Organize Florida 

 

Marcos Vilar

Executive Director

Alianza for Progress

 

Marisol Zenteno

President

League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County 

 


The ‘Tammy Jackson Act’ One Step Closer to Becoming Law

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The bill ensures protections for pregnant incarcerated women and their babies 

 

Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (SB 852, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) by Senator Jason Pizzo (D-West Park) passed the Florida Senate. With newly amended language, the bill now needs one final House vote before being sent to the Governor’s desk. On the House side, HB 1259 was co-introduced by Representatives Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) and the bill has passed unanimously in all committees and both chambers.  

The Tammy Jackson Act ensures that pregnant incarcerated women are transported to an appropriate medical facility without delay, given proper medical care, and not placed in restrictive housing involuntarily while in labor. The legislation also sets critical standards for the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women by aiming to create a safer, more respectful environment for women behind bars. 

The Dignity Coalition, a grassroots effort led by formerly incarcerated women and supported by several community organizations in Florida, works to advance the rights of incarcerated women and girls in Florida. Just last year, the Coalition won the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, a bill to ensure that incarcerated women have access to hygiene products. Passing the Tammy Jackson Act was a team effort, led in large part by Valencia Gunder, a community activist and formerly incarcerated woman herself who also serves as Campaign Manager for Dignity Florida.

“We now need the Florida House to act one more time with a final vote, to send this bill to the Governor’s desk and do right by our incarcerated women and babies,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director for Dignity Florida and the New Florida Majority. “Our women are more than prisoners; they are mothers, nurturers, and caregivers and it is time they are treated as such, with dignity, respect, and humanity. The future is female, she’s strong, she’s Black, she’s Brown and she will not be incarcerated.”

No pregnant woman should ever be put in solitary confinement; it is inhumane, unsafe and cruel, both for the mother and her child. Currently, Florida has the second-highest incarceration rate for women in the United States, and yet, women’s basic needs and rights are not being met or respected. Ensuring that incarcerated people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.


‘Tammy Jackson Act’ Unanimously Passes the Florida State House

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The bill ensures protections for pregnant incarcerated women and their babies 

 

Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (HB 1259, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) by Representatives Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) was unanimously approved by the Florida House of Representatives. On the Senate side, companion bill SB 852 filed by Senator Jason Pizzo (D-Miami) is ready to be heard on the Senate floor. Though the House’s approval is a critical step forward, SB 852 provides stronger protections for incarcerated pregnant women by comparison. 

 

The Tammy Jackson Act ensures that pregnant incarcerated women are transported to an appropriate medical facility without delay, given proper medical care, and not placed in restrictive housing involuntarily while in labor. The legislation also sets critical standards for the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women by aiming to create a safer, more respectful environment for women behind bars.

 

“Just the news of this bill passing starts to restore the dignity and hope for women and girls -   including juveniles - incarcerated in Florida. Today's action of our state legislators is an example of us moving towards a more equitable Florida,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director for Dignity Florida and the New Florida Majority. “Our women are more than prisoners; they are mothers, nurturers, and caregivers and it is time they are treated as such, with dignity, respect, and humanity. The future is female, she’s strong, she’s Black, she’s Brown and she will not be incarcerated.”

 

No pregnant woman should ever be put in solitary confinement; it is inhumane, unsafe and cruel, both for the mother and her child. Currently, Florida has the second-highest incarceration rate for women in the United States, and yet, women’s basic needs and rights are not being met or respected. 

 

Ensuring that incarcerated people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.


Early voting has begun in Florida’s 2020 Presidential Preference Primary

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Early voting starts today and goes through Sunday, March 15, in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary. Florida is a closed primary state so only Democrats can vote for Democrats and only Republicans can vote for Republicans.

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At stake are the state’s 248 Democratic delegates, of which 29 are superdelegates. Donald Trump has opposition but none of them is a threat to him being the Republican nominee. 

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Voting actually began weeks ago with the mailing of vote-by-mail ballots. Since that time, many of the Democratic candidates have dropped out of the race. Uninformed voters are likely to waste their vote if they are not aware of each candidate’s status. 

 

UPDATE 1: Here is a markup of an actual Democratic ballot. These are the active Democratic candidates as of the posting of this article. Amy Klobuchar is suspending her campaign. More candidates are likely to drop out after tomorrow’s Super Tuesday contests. Be informed. Share this information with your family and friends. 

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CALL TO ACTION: Turning Around Public Schools or Taking Away Public Schools?


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Turning Around Public Schools or Taking Away Public Schools?
 
The public school Turn Around bill (SB 1498), which would push privatization to new levels, advanced out of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education meeting today. As written, this bill would:
 
  • Throw a school district into instant turnaround status upon earning its first D or F grade (currently, a school would not face a turnaround model unless it receives two consecutive D’s or one F grade).
  • If a D or F turnaround school does not earn a C or better within one year, the Commissioner of Education may recommend closing the school, re-purpose it as a charter school, or assign it to an external operator.
  • Allows state universities or colleges to be considered as external operators, therefore bypassing school board authority.
  • Makes no provision to restore “turnaround” schools to the district.
  • Shortens the time allowed for school districts to help struggling schools.
  • Accelerates path to privatize or close low performing schools.
  • Robs districts of their constitutional authority to oversee their own schools.
  • Grants the Commissioner of Education new powers to deny district requests by closing schools.
 
In the words of a fifth grade public school student who testified in the committee meeting today, “My school grade doesn’t tell you the best parts about my school. My school has helped me grow as a student and as a person. If the state forces her school to close, her family will lose its education choice and her neighborhood will lose a place that brings people together.” We couldn’t agree more.
 
We need to unite our voices to save our public schools! Please contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee (the next and final committee stop) and tell them to amend Senate Bill 1498 by leaving school districts, particularly those that are “A” and “B” rated with a proven track record of improving schools, the full flexibility to improve school performance locally.
 
 
Chair Sen. Rob Bradley - 850.487.5055 - @Rob_Bradley - bradley.rob@flsenate.gov
 
V. Chair Sen. Wilton Simpson - 850.487.5010 - @WiltonSimpson - simpson.wilton@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Aaron Bean - 850.487-5004 - @AaronPBean - bean.aaron@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto - 850.487.5027 - @lizbethkb - benacquisto.lizbeth@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Lauren Book - 850.487.5032 - @Book4Senate - book.lauren@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Jeff Brandes - 850.487.5024 - @JeffreyBrandes - brandes.jeff@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Oscar Braynon, III - 850.487.5035 - @OscarJB2 - braynon.oscar@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Anitere Flores - 850.487.5039 - @anitere_flores - flores.anitere@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. George Gainer - 850.487.5002 - @senatorgainer - gainer.george@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Audrey Gibson - 850.487.5006 - @SenAudrey2eet - gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Travis Hutson - 850.487.5007 - @TravisJHutson - hutson.travis@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Tom Lee - 850.487.5020 - @TomLeeFL - lee.tom@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Debbie Mayfield - 850.487.5017 - @debbie_mayfield - mayfield.debbie@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Bill Montford - 850.487.5003 - @BillMontford - montford.bill@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo - 850.487.5028 - @kathleen4swfl - passidomo.kathleen@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Bobby Powell - 850.487.5030 - @BobbyPowellJr - powell.bobby@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Darryl Rouson - 850.487.5019 - @darrylrouson - rouson.darryl@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. David Simmons - 850.487.5009 - @DSimmonsFL - simmons.david@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Kelli Stargel - 850.487.5022 - @kellistargel - stargel.kelli@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Linda Stewart - 850.487.5013 - @LindaStewartFL - stewart.linda@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Perry Thurston, Jr. - 850.487.5033 - @SenatorThurston - thurston.perry@flsenate.gov
 
Please share this Alert!
 

NAACP CALLS OUT FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND POLK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

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~NAACP says statements by Florida Department of Education and Polk County School District leadership is deeply concerning and they are watching developments closely statewide. ~

 

 “Polk County Public Schools proudly display a statement across their website that reads “PCPS 2020: Focused on Excellence”. While these words are advertised prominently, we are increasingly frustrated to find that the solutions presented by Commissioner Richard Corcoran are contradictory to this vision. His attempt to intimidate, discourage, and discount the significance of thousands of teachers across the state of Florida is vile.  For far too long, Florida educators have demanded adequate public funding, resources, and staffing for the betterment of their students and have received nothing but empty promises and fleeting appeasements. Without equivocation, the NAACP stands firmly with those protesting and commanding that their voices are heard throughout this process. These teachers who have toiled tirelessly to foster a generation of forward-thinking students deserve better than bad policies and low salaries. It is high time Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Governor Ron DeSantis recognize and rectify the egregious behavior of the Florida Department of Education. We can no longer teach our Florida students about our history as a nation and our rights under our democracy, while their teachers are being marginalized, mistreated, and misused. The NAACP will continue to advocate and fight for the rights of these teachers, as they are indispensable to education and the state of Florida,” says Adora Obi Nweze, President of NAACP Florida State Conference and member of the National Board of Directors.

 


NABJ to Host 'Breathing While Black' Town Hall Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019

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Miami, FL –  The South Florida Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ-South Florida) is hosting a Town Hall meeting entitled "Breathing While Black." This public event precedes NABJ's Convention and Career Fair, Aug. 7-11 at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry.  The town hall will be hosted by Jawan Strader and Trina Robinson of NBC 6. It will be live-streamed on www.nbc6.com during a special edition of “Voices with Jawan Strader.” The event will take place on Tuesday, August 6, at Florida Memorial University. 
 
“We’re proud supporters of NABJ,” said Larry Olevitch, President and General Manager at NBC 6.  “Voices with Jawan Strader gives a platform to South Florida’s diverse community every week, talking about real issues and highlighting true difference makers, so it made perfect sense for us to be partners in bringing this town hall to life.”
 
Confirmed panelists for the event include FIU Police Captain Delrish Moss, Miami Civilian Investigative Panel’s Rodney Jacobs, Jr., BSO Deputies Association President Jeff Bell, activist Phillip Agnew, Dyma Loving and her attorney Justin Moore.
 
“We think it’s important that we have these inclusive conversations impacting the community, particularly, the black community,” said Russell Motley, president of NABJ-South Florida. “We appreciate NBC 6 and NBC 6 Voices for guiding this discussion to help work toward solutions.”
 
For more information, visit NABJ’s Convention site here.
 

 


The School-to-Prison Pipeline is Real: School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III Calls for Review of M-DCPS Student Arrest Data

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At today’s regular monthly meeting of the Miami-Dade County School Board, District 1 School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III will proffer Agenda Item H-11 on the Review of Student Arrest Data. The item is crucial to the Black community due to the disproportionate number of Black students impacted.

The issue of school safety and security has been elevated since the tragic event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School on February 14, 2018. That tragedy lead to numerous state legislative and local policy reforms and provisions, including resources and requirements for school police and/or armed staff on school campuses throughout the state. Although the presence of increased police officers on school campuses appears to be a noble strategy, the unintended consequence of engaging police officers in school-related matters often results in referring students for school discipline related issues to law enforcement.

As Miami-Dade County Public Schools remains committed to both a spirit and practice of fairness, equality, and equity in the education of its students and administration and operation of its schools and departments, a review of data, policies, and practices relating to student arrests is prudent.

From the Miami New Times,

According to a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, only 20 percent of Miami-Dade students are black, but black students account for more than half of all arrests within the district.

"Black kids are more likely to be suspended even in preschool," says Michelle Morton, the juvenile justice policy coordinator at the ACLU Foundation of Florida and author of the study. "The same behavior from a white child versus a black child will be viewed completely differently."

The school-to-prison pipeline is real.

"This issue of student arrests is one that perplexes school districts across the nation. The unfortunate criminalization of school related disciplinary issues needs to end. It is incumbent that we not only talk about data, but lean strongly into real, frank and open discussions about race and racism and the implicit biases that lead to these disparities among black student arrests as compared to their white counterparts and other groups within our system, in our collective efforts to find meaningful, sustainable and genuine solutions," said District 1 School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III.

The agenda item was supported and co-sponsored by School Board Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman, Vice Chair Dr. Martin Karp, Susie Castillo, Dr. Lawrence Feldman, Mari Tere Rojas and Dr. Marta Perez at the School Board Committee Meeting held Monday, July 22.

To view the full item, go to:

http://www.dadeschools.net/schoolboard/agenda/h11.pdf.


South Dade Alphas and County and State Agencies Collaborate to Provide Rights Restoration Resources to Local Residents [VIDEO]

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On Saturday, July 20, 2019, the Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity collaborated with Miami-Dade Pubic Defender Carlos J. Martinez and Omega Psi Phi member Florida Democratic House Leader State Representative Kionne McGhee to host a restorative rights resource clinic in Florida City, FL.  Legal experts, and representatives from local and state administrative offices, provided their services at no cost to attendees. 
 
Event attendees were treated to light refreshments and a range of restorative rights resources. Other community partners of the expungement clinic included the Miami-Dade State Attorney Office, Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections, Miami-Dade County Police Department, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Career Source Florida, Haitian Lawyers Association and Florida New Majority.

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South Dade Alphas with Omega Psi Phi member Florida Democratic House Leader State Rep. Kionne McGhee (wearing black hat) and Miami-Dade County Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez.
 

Dr. Steve Gallon III Announces 2019 CUBE Annual Conference in Miami, September 26-28

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M-DCPS School Board Member and Vice Chair of CUBE National Steering Committee Dr. Steve Gallon III announces 2019 CUBE Annual Conference in Miami September 26-28, 2019.

The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) will hold its Annual Conference in Miami, September 26-28, 2019 at the InterContinental Miami. The CUBE Conference is designed to foster effective school district leadership through practical clinic sessions and peer-led district workshops. CUBE has convened school board members from across the nation for the past 51 years to network and share the continually evolving strategies they are using to address the unique educational challenges that exist in our nation's urban centers.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III serves as Vice Chair of the CUBE National Steering Committee. He is thrilled to host the event and showcase M-DCPS, an A-rated district for the second year in a row. Conference participants will tour and attend site visits to a few of our schools that display our ingenuity, diversity, inclusion and safety.

Join CUBE in Miami for the premier annual event, curated specially to provide participants the tools and support needed to effect change and become an empowered, impactful urban school board member.

To register and for more information, please visit:

 

Highlights of CUBE's 50th Annual Conference in New Orleans, October 2017.