Dr. Earl R. Perkins (right) of the Los Angeles Unified School District sits on a panel with Dr. Ramona E. Bishop, Vallejo City Unified School District and Alex M. Johnson, Children’s Defense Fund- California./Photo by Jason Lewis (213309)

The Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys & Men of Color in California met recently at the California African American Museum (CAAM) for a panel discussion titled, “Is the Education System Addressing the Needs of Boys and Men of Color in California?”

The committee, co-chaired by Assemblymembers Reginald Jones-Sawyer Sr, (D-Los Angeles) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), was established in 2011 to engage more than 2,000 youth, community members, and system leaders in an 18-month process that culminated in the development of an ambitious Policy Platform for State Action (2012-2018). Since then, the presence and the influence of the committee has grown, resulting in the unprecedented participation of 22 assemblymembers starting in 2015, representing diverse districts across the state.

“We’re not addressing the mental needs of our young boys and men of color,” Jones-Sawyer said. “I can remember a time when we had trades in our schools. If you didn’t want to go to college, you could go to auto shop, carpentry shop, metal shop. And once you got out, you could get a job. And you could sustain a middle-class family. And if you had the energy that you wanted to go to college, there were avenues for that.”

The meeting at CAAM featured panel discussions addressing the achievement gap, K-12, post-secondary education, and community based programs.

“I appreciate this panel, when we talk about connecting our education system to a goal,” Jones-Sawyer said. “These kids are missing the ultimate goal, so that’s why they take the easy way out, and not do the work that they need to be able to sustain themselves for the rest of their lives.”

The committee will solicit new research, best practices, and policy and systems solutions for emerging issues not covered under the preceding committee.

The committees next meeting will be on August 8 at the State Capitol Building in Sacramento. The focus of this meeting will be to end mass incarceration, increase equity in education, police accountability, integrating undocumented boys and men of color, and improving school climates.