Category: Arts and Culture

Oakland Awards Nearly $1 Million in Public Arts Grants

Developers Sue City Over 1 Percent Arts Requirement


The Alice Street Mural located at 14th and Alice streets, painted by the Community Rejuvenation Project and a usual recipient of the Oakland Cultural Funding Program grant, features former Post News Group Editor Chauncey Bailey (second figure on the right). Photo courtesy of Oakland Wiki.

The Alice Street Mural located at 14th and Alice streets, painted by the Community Rejuvenation Project and a usual recipient of the Oakland Cultural Funding Program grant, features former Post News Group Editor Chauncey Bailey (second figure from right). Photo courtesy of Oakland Wiki.

By Tulio Ospina

Last week, members of the Funding Advisory Committee (FAC) voted on their recommendations for the allocation of $955,000 in city funding to provide grants for individual artists and arts organizations in Oakland.

Nearly 50 Oakland artists and organizations attended the Grant Recommendation Meeting of the FAC, a volunteer advisory board that makes funding recommendations for the Oakland Cultural Funding Program.

The nearly $1 million allocated to providing arts grants are part of the fiscal year budget that was approved by City Council in June.

In response to a growing applicant pool and in an effort to fund more artists this year, the city’s award amounts were reduced by up to 31% per applicant.

FAC recommended awards to 81 artists and organizations, including Eastside Arts Alliance, the Oakland East Bay Symphony and the Community Rejuvenation Project. The recommendations will be forwarded to the Life Enrichment Committee and then to the City Council in October for final approval.

These grants support a wide range of Oakland-based artists and nonprofit organizations that provide arts and cultural services in Oakland such as painting the city’s neighborhoods with public murals, funding music and arts festivals and supporting arts education in public schools through residency programs.

According to Denise Pate-Pearson, Cultural Funding Program coordinator, the Oakland Cultural Funding Program received the most funding this year since the recession in 2012.

Conway Jones, who served as Chairman of the Oakland Arts Council, is proud to see Oakland continuing its devotion to being a city of the arts.

“What makes Oakland special is that everywhere you look there’s some form of artistic expression,” said Jones. “Art is the indication of an active mind, but local art is a sign of an interactive community.”

Meanwhile, a group of regional developers have sued the City of Oakland over a city requirement that they must allocate 1 percent of their development project costs to public arts projects.

When Oakland passed this requirement back in December it was joining the ranks of hundreds of cities across the nation that have similar public arts requirements—including San Francisco, Napa and Emeryville.

The group of developers claims the requirement violates their First Amendment right by requiring them to fund somebody else’s expression.

Under the city’s ordinance, however, developers have full control over their selection of artist or organization that they wish to donate to.

According to Bruce Beasley, Oakland’s renowned sculpture artist and supporter of the city’s public arts grant program, the lawsuit is highly offensive to Oakland and unlikely to have much clout.

“If this (ordinance) is found unconstitutional, then there’s a whole bunch of other programs that are going to come crashing down with it,” said Beasley. “The same would happen to requiring street lighting additions and with allotments for affordable housing.”

Those already critical of gentrifying developers altering Oakland’s landscape have become angered over the developers’ unwillingness to contribute positive elements to the communities they are entering.

Yet as the Oakland Cultural Funding Program’s existence shows, the city is showing interest in supporting artists and arts organizations that will benefit residents and visitors alike.

“I’m happy to see Oakland continue having an active and viable arts community,” said Beasley. “All my life I’ve heard Oakland has the highest number of artists per capita of any city in the world and I believe that more today.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 5, 2015 (

City of Oakland Declares Humanist Hall a Neighborhood Nuisance

Gentrifying neighborhood threatens historic venue’s survival, according to staff.

Celebration at Humanist Hall. Photo courtesy of Humanist Hall.

By Tulio Ospina

Humanist Hall, a non-theistic church that has been a cultural resource for under-served communities in Oakland since 1941, has been designated a public nuisance by the City of Oakland, based on complaints of neighborhood residents.

According to the staff at the hall, located at 390 27th Street between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway, recent gentrification in the area around the venue has led to new residents repeatedly filing complaints against its hours of operation, noise levels, presence of children outdoors and patrons “loitering” outside the building.

Humanist Hall at 390 27th St. in Oakland has been in operation since 1941. Photo courtesy of the East Bay Express

Humanist Hall at 390 27th St. in Oakland has been in operation since 1941. Photo courtesy of the East Bay Express

After nuisances are reported, the city can impose penalties such as fines and evictions if the annoyances continue. Since June of this year, Humanist Hall has been fined $4,000 due to noise complaints—$1,000 per offense—a sum that could put the hall out of business.

“We host a lot of cultural events for people who otherwise couldn’t afford them,” said David Oertel, Humanist Hall president, pointing out that the church hosts community events, which include Mexican family occasions—such as quinceañeras and baptisms—transgender weddings, cultural dances, barbecues and political meetings.

Once a year, the Humanist Hall hosts a voodoo festival that brings international patrons to Oakland from as far away as Trinidad and Puerto Rico, said Oertel.

The Humanist church is not a profit-seeking entity but is dedicated to offering its space to support the political, spiritual, cultural and ethnic values of minority communities, he said.

Greg Minor, assistant to the city administrator, states the city has had issues with the venue for the past 10 years, mostly due to noise levels during the day and especially after curfew.

With regard to steps to mediate or encourage conflict resolution between the neighbors before resorting to punitive measures, Minor responded that mediation is a usual first step for the city in these situations.

Nonetheless, he was unsure what steps had been taken in this circumstance because he has only been working in his current position for a short time.

Minor said complaining residents have been unwilling to speak publically with the press for fear of retaliation.

Oertel said he has not been able to talk to those who have complaints, claiming they have been secretive and aloof and “not very interested in being in a community with the people who they are in the community with.”

Humanist Hall entered into a settlement agreement with the city last month and agreed to start complying with the city’s conditions in order to avoid paying the fines.

Oertel claims that obeying every regulation has been difficult for the church.

“One of the agreement’s conditions is that we have to report to the city the expected number of guests that will be attending each event,” said Oertel. “But a lot of these people come to family occasions and bring their extended families and we end up with a hundred people.”

Last week, the organization launched an online petition calling on Mayor Libby Schaaf to “encourage condo owners and renters to respect the social norms of the neighborhood – our neighborhood – that they have moved into.”

“Apparently, one homeowner complaining to the city is enough to shut down Humanist Hall, even though 20,000 people per year who use our hall would have to go without it,” says the petition.

Within a week, the online petition has garnered over 1,600 signers.

Oakland City Council Set to Choose Developer to Renovate Kaiser Convention Center

Rendering of proposed hotel between the Kaiser Convention Center and the Oakland Museum of California.

Rendering of CDP’s proposed hotel between the Kaiser Convention Center and the Oakland Museum of California.

By Ashley Chambers

The Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, a historic Oakland landmark that has been shuttered and vacant for a decade, will undergo a transformation as the City Council is expected to vote next week on which of two developers will restore the building.

The convention center previously housed large-scale events, concerts, and prominent speakers – Dr. Martin Luther King who spoke there in 1962, Stokely Carmichael in 1968, the Grateful Dead, James Brown, and the Oakland school district’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Fest.

The building includes a 45,000-square-foot arena that seats up to 6,000 people and the Calvin Simmons Theater that seats 1,900, two banquet rooms and a ballroom.

City staff is recommending that the city enter into a contract and long-term lease with Orton Development, Inc., which is based in Emeryville, to rehabilitate the convention center and its historic architecture.

Under the city plan, the developer would foot the bill for the entire project and would recoup its investment by using at least part of the building for profit-generating purposes.

The city’s RFP requires restoration of the Calvin Simmons Theater as a performance space and for the entire project to include “as many community benefits as possible,” including “local and small business participation, commitment to living and prevailing wages, commitment to labor peace and opportunities for job training and mentoring, a high number of jobs created for a range of training and education levels, and provision of high quality public facilities and amenities,” according to the city report.

Orton’s proposal, which is in accord with the city RFP, includes restoration of the Calvin Simmons Theater as an event space, and use of the arena as a “multi-floor rehab combining office, flex, public access, and food uses.”

The plan also proposes to use the surrounding outdoor space for community gardens, barbeque areas, public art and entertainment.

A coalition of community members and arts enthusiasts is opposing to the Orton proposal, saying the project would transform the arena – which is the majority of the interior of the building – into offices for private businesses.

The city’s RFP has suggested that the building could be used for offices, technology, design and private commercial use as well as entertainment, conference and event space, retail uses, performance space, and light industrial uses such as a brewery, maker spaces, and artist studios.

The alternative proposal came from Creative Development Partners (CDP), based in Oakland. It includes restoration of the Calvin Simmons Theater as a world-class performing arts center and use of the arena for sporting and other large events, and paying for the project by building a 15-story hotel adjacent to the Convention Center.

The hotel would be nestled in between the Oakland Museum and the convention center on park land that is presently a parking lot, incorporating a green design.

The CDP proposal is built around community benefits, including: creating more than 1,700 jobs and a career training program in partnership with Laney and Merritt Colleges for jobs in hospitality, culinary arts, creative arts, and landscaping, as well as a partnership with the Oakland Unified School District’s Linked Learning program.

The CDP proposal, called “One Lake Merritt,” envisions the building as a hub for local music, cultural and performing arts companies to use as rehearsal and performance space.

The proposal has garnered significant support from the local arts community. But while city staff found the CDP proposal “compelling,” they are recommending that the city go with the Orton plan and look for other potential sites for a hotel.

The City Council is expected to vote on the issue on Tuesday, July 7.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, July 5, 2015 (


Oakland Club Owner Geoffrey Pete Wins Oakland “Pillar” Indie Award

By Post Staff

Entrepreneur Geoffrey Pete, owner of the well-known nightspot Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, was recognized as a “Pillar” of the community at the recent 9th Annual Oakland Indie Awards.

Geoffrey Pete. Courtesy of

Geoffrey Pete. Courtesy of

“An Oakland cornerstone, Geoffrey’s has opened its doors for parties, political events, press conferences, fundraisers and public gatherings for five decades,” according to the Indie Award website.

 “(Geoffrey’s) has remained strong through unstable times and has been an advocate in the African American business community,” the website said.

The award ceremony, held on May 29 at Jack London Square’s Market Building, honored some of the city’s most influential local businesses and artists who benefit the local economy.

According to Indie Award website, the Pillar award goes each year to a “long-established Oakland business or artist with deep roots in the community and long-standing ties to the people, culture and history of the town.”

“This person or business mentors newbies and is renowned for their contributions to Oakland’s living history.”

The nine inners were selected based on their community leadership, being environmentally responsible and creating innovative projects.

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle is located at 410 14th Oakland.

For more information on the wards, go to

Screening of Cuban Film on Assata Shakur

Gloria Rolando at work. Photo courtesy of Tarnel Abbott.

Filmmaker Gloria Rolando at work. Photo courtesy of Tarnel Abbott.

The Richmond, California, Regla Cuba Friendship Committee will present two feature films, including one on former Black Panther Assata Shakur, by prize-winning Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando, Saturday, June 13, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, 339 11th St. in, Richmond.

Walter Turner, KPFA host of Africa Today, will present a Cuba update.

Assata Shakur

Assata Shakur

Rolando’s film “Eyes of the Rainbow,” deals with the life of Assata Shakur, the Black Panther and Black Liberation Army leader who escaped from prison and was given political asylum in Cuba, where she has lived since 1984.

The documentary is in English.

The second feature, “Reembarque,” Reshipment, is Rolando’s latest film, portraying a forgotten chapter in Cuban history. The movie tells the story of the forced repatriation of Haitian immigrants in the early 20th century.

The film has received international praise for historical research and brilliant portrayal of Cuban/Creole culture. The film has English subtitles.

The suggested donations $15, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Priority Africa Network will co-sponsor the program.

Courtesy of the Post News Group, May 30, 2015 (

Commentary: Oakland Hip Hop Artist Young Gully Speaks to Youth Experiences

Young Gully. Photo Courtesy of the Eastbay Express.

Young Gully. Photo Courtesy of the Eastbay Express.

By Jaron K. Epstein

Jaron K. Epstein

Jaron K. Epstein

Oakland is internationally recognized for supporting humanitarian causes and opposing police brutality. The city continues to be on the forefront through hip hop artists who are influenced by the area’s rich political history and the often conflicted relationship between young people and Oakland Police Department.

Going back to the period when African Americans began the great migration from the South, Oakland was known as a city that went out of its way to recruit white police officers from southern state, which seemed to ensure that OPD would have a hostile attitude toward the communities they policed.

Young Gully is one rapper who speaks to these issues. After the killing of Oscar Grant by BART police, he began working on an album called The Oscar Grant Project.

This album was collaboration between Young Gully and journalist/photographer Pendarvis Harshaw, who mc’s the album, providing commentary and insight into the conversations taking place on the album for the listeners

This album manages to cut through the obstacles that can make people hesitate to open up to what may be considered a political message. It really poses the question of what makes one political?

Is it your opposition to attacks on your community and loved ones?

One of the songs on the album titled Stereotype deals a heavy question about the created images in American society of Blacks people.

“They tell us that we the ones not using our conscience,” he sings. “They views are preposterous. I guess every Black man fits the shoes of a convict. We all ignorant with nothing to say. I guess I’m just another outspoken brotha up in the way.”

Dr. Amos Wilson wrote and lectured about the created personalities within this society meant to mentally control and condition Black people to being submissive and accepting of being trapped within a caste system in this country.

One aspect of this is that more Black men are in prison or under police supervision today than were enslaved in 1850, according to Michelle Alexander. In her book, “The New Jim Crow,” she details the point made by Dr. Wilson about how Black people are living in a created caste system in this country.

Young Gully, playing the devil’s advocate, pushes the listener to question the presumptions often made about Black people spread through television and the media.

“Black people won’t make it they can’t survive,” he says. “They treat us like animals. If another one of us drop, what would it matter for? They playing tricks on our mind like it’s a magic show. And the media love to carry the hype. I’m a dumb brotha – I guess I fit the stereotype.”

The young generations coming up are fed up with the status quo and are refusing to be complicit in the oppression of Blacks through economic exploitation and the use of police intimidation and violence.

Hip-hop today has been corporatized, and the goal of much of it is to spread ideas of hate and violence to youth today. Deviating from this particular agenda is viewed as a threat.

This may be a reason why a number of people involved in music believe that the police, based in New York City, allegedly have a hip hop police task force that monitors hip hop artists for their political work and ideas.

Courtesy of the Post News Group, May 17, 2015 (

Hundreds Defend ‘Afrika Town’ Community Garden

The Afrika Town community garden and mural are located at 23rd Street and San Pablo Avenue in West Oakland. Photo by Rasheed Shabazz.

The Afrika Town community garden and mural are located at 23rd Street and San Pablo Avenue in West Oakland. Photo by Rasheed Shabazz.

By Rasheed Shabazz

rasheed-headshotOver 300 community members in support of a community garden in West Oakland recently participated in a performance event to protect the garden from destruction.

The “Afrika Town” Garden sits on a lot on San Pablo Ave., at 23rd and Brush streets in West Oakland, just blocks from the “Uptown” district in downtown Oakland.

A year ago, the vacant lot reeked of urine and was littered with trash and syringes. Today, more than a dozen garden beds filled with fruits and vegetables provide fresh food to anyone who asks within an impoverished food desert.

On April 3, a day billed as ‘Liberation Day,’ the Afrika Town garden lot featured live poetry and musical performances, a “Know Your Rights” workshop by Oakland’s Copwatch, and a children’s jumper. Hundreds attended throughout the day in solidarity with the vision for an Afrika Town in Oakland.

Last fall, volunteers at Qilombo–a social center adjacent to the lot–cleaned up the lot and collaborated with Planting Justice and college students to plant vegetables to feed the community.

Back in February, organizers painted blocks on the sidewalk red, black and green, and hoisted banners on San Pablo Ave. that read, “Karibu, Afrika Town,” Swahili for welcome. Afrika, spelled with a k, is also a Swahili term.

On March 7, hundreds came to the garden and painted a large “Afrika Town” mural on the side of Qilombo’s building. It features Black Panthers, Kwame Nkrumah, and other artwork inspired by the liberation movement. The colorful mural not only attracted the approving eye of residents, activists say, but also the attention of developers.

On March 26, the current property owner, Noel Yi, along with his realtor Gary Robinson, came with Oakland Police and demolition equipment with an intent to destroy the garden. Afrika Town volunteers stood between bulldozers and the lot’s fence to prevent the uprooting of the garden.

After negotiations, the owner agreed to give volunteers one week to dig up the beds before the bulldozers would return.

Instead of removing the fruits and vegetables, lead volunteer Linda Grant and others organized to defend the garden.

“We want this to be a resource for the community,” said Danae Martinez, a community college professor of African American Studies at Laney and Merritt Colleges. Her students helped plant the garden and paint the mural. “We want it to be for Black people and about Black people.”

The garden is just a seed for Afrika Town, envisioned as an autonomous zone for Black people.

“A lot of other races and cultures have a designated space, like Chinatown, or Fruitvale, or Hills for the White folks,” said Emani Alyce, a volunteer at Qilombo. “Afrika Town is a space where Black folks can come and feel comfortable with.”

After lobbying from activists and supporters, and a call from Oakland City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson, Yi and Robinson agreed to work with Afrika Town’s gardeners.

Despite the small victory, volunteers are still concerned with gentrification, particularly the West Oakland Specific Plan. Abiola said, “We had a small victory today. It’s nowhere near over.”

Courtesy of the Post News Group, April 16, 2015 (

Three Generations of a Family Continue the Fight for Voting Rights

By Tasha Ellis

Have you ever believed that you can change the world? Have you believed that you could help to eradicate injustice?

Thomas Chatmon

Thomas Chatmon

Growing up in a family that was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement, I learned that we win as we unite with a common purpose to support the evolution of humanity.

My grandfather Thomas C. Chatmon Sr. was one of my greatest examples of someone who was an agent of change. In 1961, he and eight others founded the Albany Movement because they were weary of blatant injustices in Albany, Georgia.

When white-owned banks would not approve funding for his business, the Black community supported his endeavors by purchasing his products, and eventually he was able to franchise in three different states.

In December 1961, about 700 demonstrators were jailed for staging sit-ins and freedom rides. My family used money from their business, Chatmon’s Beauty Supply, to help finance the Albany Movement.

My grandfather often emphasized the importance of voter registration. And so voting, for me, became a sacred act.

In the meantime, my father Fred Ellis moved to Oakland and carried out another sort of civil rights effort. He started a successful program to help more African-Americans become teachers, and he used his own voting rights to campaign for candidates who supported this mission.

Fred Ellis

Fred Ellis

In 2014, I personally discovered, like those before me, that we still have to help people carry out the right to vote., and I became committed to voter registration.   Personally, I found great inspiration in my pastor, Dr. Raphael Warnock of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. He passionately advocates against society’s injustices, and he was a spokesperson for the New Georgia Project.

The New Georgia Project works to decrease the number of unregistered voters in the state of Georgia. In 2014, Georgia had approximately 800,000 unregistered voters.

The group collected more than 87,000 voter registration forms. Other groups working in conjunction with the New Georgia Project collected as many as 20,000 more voter registration forms.

Challenges occurred and nearly 40,000 of the registered applicants did not show up on the registrar’s roll.

New Georgia Project filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Date Brian Kemp in October 2014 alleging that the “missing” voters were being ignored.

Tasha Ellis

Tasha Ellis

The judge dismissed the case that the New Georgia Project filed. Kemp said that the case was “frivolous.”

Fifty years after my grandfather’s involvement in the struggle, voter suppression is still alive and well. In spite of this inequity, progress is essential.

The New Georgia Project will continue to build upon the work from 2014 and looks forward to registering and engaging even more Georgians in 2015.

For additional information about the New Georgia Project visit

 Tasha Ellis is a voting rights activist and graduate student.


Courtesy of the Oakland Post, March 22, 2015 (


Oakland Celebrates African Americans Who Have Made the Community Strong

Councilmember Desley Brooks (right) honored (L to R)  community leaders and activists Cat Brooks and Carroll Fife (with their daughters) and singer Jennifer Johns. Photo by Ken Epstein

Councilmember Desley Brooks (right) honored (L to R) community leaders and activists Cat Brooks and Carroll Fife (with their daughters) and singer Jennifer Johns. Photo by Ken Epstein


By Post Staff

Recognizing Black History Month, city councilmembers and Mayor Libby Schaaf honored a group of African American unsung heroes who have been dedicated their energies to better the Oakland community.

Councilmember Abel Guillen recognized Dr. William Love, professor at Peralta Community Colleges. Photo by Ken Epstein

Councilmember Abel Guillen recognized Dr. William Love, professor at Peralta Community Colleges. Photo by Ken Epstein

In at an event at Oakland City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 17, led by Council President Lynette McElhaney councilmembers recognized African American organizations and leaders who has promoted positive changes in the city and demonstrated leadership in arts and culture, religion, community development, athletics, volunteerism and business.

“Black History and Heritage Month is an important opportunity to celebrate the achievements of African Americans who have made our City a better place for all Oaklanders,” said McElhaney.

Councilmember Dan Kalb recognized poet and author Tennessee Reed; Councilmember Abel Guillen recognized Dr. William Love, professor at Peralta Community Colleges; Council President McElhaney recognized Arnold Perkins, former director of Alameda County Health Department.

Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington recognized Rev. Harry Louis Williams of Allen Temple Baptist Church;

Councilmember Noel Gallo recognized owners of King’s Boxing Gym, Charles and Celeste King. Photo by Ken Epstein

Councilmember Noel Gallo recognized owners of King’s Boxing Gym, Charles and Celeste King. Photo by Ken Epstein

; Councilmember Desley Brooks recognized community leaders Carroll Fife and Cat Brooks, and artists Jennifer Johns and Kev Choice.

District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid recognized Gladys Green, a lifetime community safety leader; Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan recognized Robbie Clark and Causa Justa, a community organizer for housing rights.

Mayor Schaaf recognized educator and former Black Panther Party leader Ericka Huggins.







Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan recognized Robbie Clark of Causa Justa, a community organization that works for housing rights and against gentrification. Photo by Ken Epstein

Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan (second from right) recognized Robbie Clark (third from right) of Causa Justa, a community organization that works for housing rights and against gentrification. Photo by Ken Epstein



Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney recognized Arnold Perkins. Photo by Ken Epstein

Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney recognized Arnold Perkins. Photo by Ken Epstein


District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid recognized Gladys Green, a lifelong community safety leader. Photo by Ken Epstein

District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid recognized Gladys Green, a lifelong community safety leader. Photo by Ken Epstein



Councilmember Dan Kalb recognized poet and author Tennessee Reed. Photo by Ken Epstein.

Councilmember Dan Kalb recognized poet and author Tennessee Reed. Photo by Ken Epstein.


Councilmember Annie Cambell Washington honored Rev. Harry Louis Williams of Allen Temple Baptist Church. Photo by Ken Epstein

Councilmember Annie Cambell Washington honored Rev. Harry Louis Williams of Allen Temple Baptist Church. Photo by Ken Epstein

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, February 20, 2015 (

Our Schools Need Latino Teachers

Latino students two


By Francisco Ortiz, Kimberly Mayfield Lynch and Kitty Kelly Epstein

Marisol, a very effective Bay Area high school teacher, says that she never had a Latino teacher until she was in the 10th grade.

“Having a Latino teacher made me much more positive about education and caused me to think about teaching,” she said.

Latino students threeMarisol’s experience is not unusual.   Fifty-three percent of students and only 18 percent percent of teachers in California public schools are Latino. There are schools in the Bay Area that have hundreds of Latino children and not a single Latino teacher.

Currently, one of the authors of this article, Mr. Ortiz, is the only Spanish-speaking Latino teacher for the entire upper-elementary grades (4-6) at his school.

He says, “I am able to effectively communicate with the newcomer students in my classroom, as well as other newcomer students in grades 4-6, something which may not always be possible for monolingual English speaking teachers.”

“Although I teach sixth grade,” he continues, “parents from other classrooms say they hope that their children will be my students in the future. Kids from grades 2-5 often see me in the halls and express their excitement to be in my classroom.”

Latino students 1Latino students want to succeed. Whether it’s cultural capital, linguistic

Francisco Ortiz

Francisco Ortiz

capital or a combination of both that allow Latino students to feel more empowered and confident through having Latino teachers, this ever growing and crucially important resource should not be ignored, especially since the Latino population is the fastest growing ethnic group in California’s schools, he said.

Dr. Kimberly Mayfiled Lynch

Dr. Kimberly Mayfiled-Lynch

Asian, white and Black students also need Latino teachers to share their language, along with their cultural and global wisdom.

Some authors treat the lack of Latino teachers as a problem of recruitment, and some have even argued that Latinos are not interested in becoming teachers.

In reality there are many barriers that stand in the way of Latinos earning the teaching credential.   Standardized tests continue to be a significant barrier for Latinos entering the teaching profession.

Due to the racial wealth gap, many Latino families are challenged by the high fees for the assessments and by the requirement of many programs that candidates work for free as a student teacher.

Another barrier for Latinos who have English as a second language is the writing section of the standardized assessment. Test takers are required to write all responses in English.

Dr. Kitty Kelly Epstein

Dr. Kitty Kelly Epstein

Although Spanish is the first language for 40 percent of California students, there is absolutely no credit given for Spanish fluency in fulfilling the requirements for credentialing.

Additionally, traditional recruitment strategies are often not effective for recruiting Latinos. Recruitment of college graduates and career-changers through community-based organizations is more effective than the traditional bureaucratic routes.

In our view the recruitment of teachers of color is a far better way to improve American schools and stabilize the teaching force than the over-testing of everybody, which is currently the favorite project of many policy-makers.

Kimberly Mayfield-Lynch is chair of Black Women Organized for Political Action and chair of the Education Department at Holy Names University.

Francisco Ortiz is a Bay Area teacher and a graduate student researching issues of Latino teacher recruitment.

Kitty Kelly Epstein hosts Education Today on KPFA – FM and writes on issues involving education and urban policy. (A Different View of Urban Schools (2012) Peter Lang).

Courtey of the Post News Group, February 27, 2015 (