The Unity Coalition is a group of African-American and Latino parents, students and community residents who have come together to model behavior of unity for our youth and to provide solutions to address the root cause of the disconnection that leads to poor academic performance and youth violence. Through shared accountability and community and parent participation we will ensure that the solutions that have been laid out are implemented. Instead of allowing our youth to be used as scapegoats, let us call to the table those who are responsible for the environment, educational system and overall welfare of our children.
1. The Board of Education must hold itself and the administration of Santa Monica High accountable for failing to address the persistent patterns of institutionalized racism in our district. Years of meetings, committees, task forces, strategic planning reports etc. have produced many bold ideas for change but we find ourselves fighting for the same issues that were fought for in the 1960’s.
2. Ensure that administration, staff and faculty hiring practices reflect the diversity of the student body. Increase outreach and recruitment of faculty of color who can relate to students’ background and life experience. Develop a plan to support faculty of color, especially in their first year of teaching.
3. Develop a restorative justice approach to student discipline so that we focus less on punishment and more on transformation. In-house suspensions should be the norm and mediation, workshops, community service and non-violence training should constitute the curriculum of in-house suspensions.
4. Increase student and community engagement by celebrating the culture, history and accomplishments of African Americans and Latinos through assemblies, student theatre, murals, cultural celebrations, and events that teach the common social struggle of both Latino and African American communities. Declare Unity Day and support MEChA and the Black Student Union in their efforts to bring both cultures together.
5. De-colonize the curriculum and integrate culturally relevant teaching practices in every course. Create a new course that teaches the history of social struggle of both Latino and African American people. Ensure that every student who graduates from Santa Monica High takes a course that addresses racism, bias and expands their knowledge of the various cultures that make up our society.
6. Develop a new protocol on addressing intercultural conflict that includes parental and community involvement, mediation, teaching on the practice of non-violence and cultural awareness.
7. Ensure that all of these reforms are coordinated with every middle school reform effort.
8. Direct district staff to review every document and strategic plan that has been developed to prioritize an action plan that will serve as a “master plan” for African American and Latino student achievement. District staff should solicit community input in developing this “master plan” and the superintendent should provide an annual report to assess implementation and effectiveness.
9. Contract RAND Corporation to conduct a study of the residency patterns of youth who experience academic failure and assess if these neighborhoods suffer increased levels of unemployment, crime and violence.
10. Develop an administrator, teacher, staff and parent-training model with community input to train school staff and parents on how to create an empowering learning environment for students. We will not tolerate bias or racism in our schools and we should educate every parent to follow the same practices in their homes.We offer this l0-point plan to guide the school district’s efforts in making the education process relevant and empowering for our students. We stand ready to work with the leadership of the school district to implement the plan we set forth today. Our support of the school district with our tax dollars, and volunteer time should not be taken for granted.