By CBM Staff –
California Black Media (CBM) brought the issues afflicting the state’s African-American community front and center with elected officials and policy leaders on January 20.
CBM staff met with state and regional officials in Sacramento.
As discussed in meetings, the state’s financial perils had an overarching impact on all levels of issues affecting the Black community, from closing the African- American achievement gap in education to improving the soaring unemployment rate in the African-American community.
Unequivocally, resolving the state’s budget shortfalls was a top priority said Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles). Closing the state’s $25 billion budget deficit while protecting education and minimizing job losses would require tough decisions for legislators, he acknowledged.
“It is going to be ugly, but it‘s going to be ugly if we don‘t pass the tax cuts,” Perez said.
Perez said his agenda includes addressing access to healthy food for some communities due to a scarce number of grocery stores within a reasonable distance. He is working on a bill to bring grocery stores to rural and urban communities that have difficult access.
“A major focus for us is stepping up access,” he said. “There’s not one single grocery store in Watts since the riots. I was born in 1969, so in my lifetime there has not been a grocery store in Watts,” he stated as an example.
CBM met with California’s top cop, Attorney General Kamala Harris who outlined her plan to focus on crime prevention without losing sight on those victims affected by crime.
Senator Curren Price (D-Inglewood) echoed many of the same concerns as Perez. Price said his priorities emphasized job creation and economic development.
Price called on the African-American media to continue disseminating messages from elected officials that could address the issues concerning the African-American community.
“The Black media is uniquely positioned to help us get the word out to the population that we are serving,” he said.
The African-American achievement gap was a recurring topic CBM discussed with officials due to impending budget cuts and the disproportionate level of success Black students reach in education compared with other ethnic groups.
Educating the state’s 6.2 million students is difficult when billions in education funds have been lost, said Richard Zeiger, Chief Deputy Superintendent for the state Department of Education.
Cuts to education have nearly diminished his department’s ability to develop new programs, he said.
“Not all kids come in with advantages. It’s about having the resources to pay attention to them. Some kids are going to need more resources than others and some are going to need less,” he said.
Zeiger believes providing customized learning would be a step in the right direction for underachieving students.
CBM capped off its Legislative Day event with a reception honoring newly-elected African-American officials throughout the state. The reception was co-hosted by the League of California Cities African American Caucus.
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