Accomplishments have included advocacy to bring in over $600,000 in dedicated revenue to support free after school programs and establishment of the first co-located behavioral health program for high school students and their families in San Benito County. Participation in regional and statewide boards, collaboratives, and advocacy groups such as California Equity Leaders Network joins providers and systems leaders to connect local issues with statewide initiatives.
Stop the Pandemic’s School Pushout - Parent Racial Justice Demands for Emergency Schooling During COVID19
The YA Parent Alliance thanks our local school districts for working tirelessly to ensure that students are fed and families are supported during this crisis. In spite of these heroic efforts, there are deep inequities that remain and parents across the state are demanding change. Youth Alliance stands with the parents of the statewide Dignity in Schools California coalition. YA is committed to working alongside parents, students, and education allies to transform our communities and schools.
“DSC Parents reject all attempts to call what schools are now providing to our children as anything but emergency education. To call it “distance learning” or “remote learning” only hides how completely inadequate and discriminatory it is.” From cities to rural areas, students and families are left in confusion, waiting and shut out. Whether it’s how to get laptops and high-speed internet access for online classrooms or how to continue IEPs and mental health services during the pandemic, or how to support students who are homeless or in foster care.
Shelter in Place began in March and thousands of children across the state were required to stay home to be safe and begin what has been called “distance learning”. The sad truth is that distance learning is a myth except for those students who are independent learners, have access to technology and the internet, a quiet place to study, or access to adults who can help them with their learning. Parents have shared the stress that they and their children have experienced especially for those who have special learning needs, anxiety or other mental health issues, don’t have access to technology or the internet, or who are unable to help their child with their homework.
Instead, what has transpired has been what the parent members of the Dignity in Schools California coalition are calling the reality of “emergency education”. This emergency education has essentially resulted in education ending for thousands of students when schools closed in March. The valiant efforts of educators to shift to remote learning has still resulted in students they cannot locate or who are disengaged and thousands across the state who are without access to computers or internet. Locally, the lack of investment in rural infrastructure has had a crippling effect on our educator’s ability to educate students under this new “distance learning” paradigm with Wifi HotSpots on back order until July and with that, unreliable connectivity even for those with access. Perpetual underfunding of the systems that impact children have handicapped our best leaders into creating patchwork solutions to make do as they all figure it out. Acknowledging this reality is required if we are really going to lay down a path that can create an equitable recovery for all of our people.
Parent members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign from across California crafted a list of demands for education including the call for an Education Emergency Relief Package. This coordinated and strategic investment is needed to deal with the dismal economic projections released from Gov. Newsom forecasting a $54 billion deficit by June 2021. That could translate to a record $18 billion revenue shortfall for California K-12 schools and community colleges. Families on the fringes are even more vulnerable of being locked out of the recovery as our teachers, counselors, after school staff and career technical education programs are slated to be cut.
See HERE for the list of urgent and key demands.
Dignity in Schools California Week of Action
Youth Alliance, proudly partnered with Dignity in Schools California, challenges the systemic problem of pushout in our community’s schools and works to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. The Dignity in Schools Campaign builds power amongst parents, youth, organizers, advocates and educators to transform their own communities, support alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization and the dismantling of public schools, and fight racism and all forms of oppression. As a champion for youth, Youth Alliance brings together local advocates, parents, youth, and stakeholders to challenge these systems and bring about equity and positive change.
Breaking Down Barriers for Pregnant & Parenting Students
Youth Alliance has supported teen mothers and fathers with a comprehensive program since 2008. With funding support from First 5 San Benito, Latino Community Foundation, and The California Wellness Foundation, the FAMiLiA (Fathers and Mothers Learning & Achieving) program has worked with 123 teen parents to connect them and their child/ren to health care, housing, daycare, and transportation services, a network of support, educational advocacy and connection to legal assistance for issues related to custody, emancipation, immigration, relationship violence, counseling, and child support. Over 80% of teens participating in the FAMiLiA program are on track to or have graduated from high school. Over the years, there have been a total 8 repeat pregnancies (7% of total served). These amazing outcomes assist young mothers and fathers in obtaining economic and personal stability. Additionally, FAMiLiA peer led pregnancy prevention education reached 326 high risk youth last year. Trained peer advocates attend community outreach events to educate youth and reduce misinformation, stigma, and change social norms.
While these results have shown tremendous impact, there are still extreme systemic barriers for young parents to complete their high school education or have equal access to higher education pathways that will help propel them out of poverty and enhance their young family’s life prospects
To Learn more about the challenges facing pregnant & parenting teens, read the full ACLU Report HERE
2012 California Youth Bill of Rights
ACR 162, as amended, V. Manuel Pérez. Pupil rights: Student and Youth Bill of Rights.
This measure would declare that the Legislature recognizes the importance of engaging with young people to influence decisions that affect their quality of life and well-being, and that the Student and Youth Bill of Rights serves as a framework to guide and inform the youth of the state in organizing and advocating policy issues on their own behalf. Read the 2012 California Youth Bill of Rights HERE.