The status of California’s budget crisis has everyone concerned about the services provided by the state to its citizens. For the past decade, there has been a shortfall that gets kicked down the road like a kid playing kick ball. Now we are faced with a shortfall of $24.5 billion of which the democrats are suggesting we cut $12.5 billion in service and extend tax revenues that would raise $12 billion to balance our budget and limit cuts to education.
Now while I am not pleased over the choices before me, I know it will be unpleasant for all. The poor and voiceless will take the brunt of this proposal but will be in worst shape under the offer coming from the republicans across the aisle.
To use a combined quote stated by Dr. Albert Karnig, President of California State University San Bernardino, Chancellor Tim White, University of California Riverside and Bruce Baron, Chancellor of the San Bernardino Community College, “the impact on their institutions would be devastating with faculty layoffs, reduce class offerings which affect enrollment which reduce enrollment”.
If this will be the impact placed on the usual students seeking an institution of higher learning, God only knows the impact on students of color, especially African Americans and Latinos.
When you view just a couple of the key indicators of education on our students in public education, you will begin to see my concerns. The dropout rate for African American students is 36.8% and 26.7% for Latinos in California. For those students left in the system, their Academic Performance Index scores of 686 Blacks and 715 Hispanics fall way below the sought after score of 800. If our students are performing below acceptable levels in our public education system, they surely will not be able to attend our institutions of higher learning, so the few who might qualify will be impacted.
So our legislators need to seek a balanced approach to solving the budget crisis. To paraphrase Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter: “If we want our children to have the kind of opportunity and futures we have enjoyed, then we will have no trouble finding enough republicans to solve the state’s budget problem”.
When I served on the school board and an educational issue came up in Sacramento that was divided along the party lines and this issue was going to hurt students, republican members of the board would contact republicans and democrats would do likewise. Local school board members must weigh in on this issue and speak for students who can not vote or contribute to campaigns.
All of us have contributed to the problem so let’s all join in to make a sacrifice in solving it by holding our nose if necessary to do what none of us want to do.
Norris Gregory, San Bernardino's First Black City Councilman Dies
San Bernardino lost Norris Gregory last week to cancer. Norris was the first African American to grace the city council as an elected representative of our government. In order to elect a Black or Hispanic during the late sixties and early seventies, the city had to draw lines down racial neighbors because Whites would not vote for people of color. Norris often talked to his supporters about the difficulty of raising funds for his two campaigns.
I first met Norris when I held a coffee for him in our home on California Street. As a young parent the thing I was concerned with was the fast traffic that came down the street between Baseline and Highland Avenue.
Norris won the election and we got our stop sign in front of Rio Vista School. Norris’s campaign also brought attention to the city from other elected officials like then councilman of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, who came to San Bernardino for fundraisers on behalf of Norris. That single election changed the composition of every commission and board under the authority of the city. I was appointed by Norris to the Police Commission, when his original appointee moved out of the city.
Another thing Norris did was to help relocate the Kaiser Permanente Medical Clinic from 9th and “D” Street to its present location on Date Street. I got a call from a Kaiser Governmental Representative asking the question if I knew anyone on the council because they were having trouble in getting the votes. I gave them Norris Gregory’s name and how this would benefit the city. After the clinic was opened, Pam Bolton became the first African American employee to be employed at the clinic.
Because of his cutting through the racial tension that existed during that time others were able to follow like: John Hobbs, Valerie Pope-Ludlam, Dan Frazier, Betty Dean Anderson, Gordon McGinnis and now Rikke Van Johnson.