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The Future Is Male: Why California Needs More Male Teachers Of Color And More Local News

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Having a non-white male teacher can make a huge difference in California classrooms. Hear how a new program is helping to get more men of color into teaching. Plus, in a two-part series, KPBS highlights a group of moms helping a San Diego pastor prepare high-risk offenders to re-enter society. And starting Wednesday, minimum wage workers in California will see a hike in their paycheck. But what impact will it have on local businesses? Owners weigh in.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Tuesday, December 31st I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. The future could be male in California classrooms and a group of moms is helping a local pastor change the hearts and lines of convicted killers.

Speaker 2: 00:17 And that's my job is to get these guys prepared to come out. And so I need the right tools to accomplish this. So I'm going to, I need to shotgun blasts and the mothers where the message is my shotgun.

Speaker 1: 00:28 That more right after the break in just hours, millions of San Diego will be ringing in the new year and transit officials want to make sure people have a safe ride home. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says both MTS and in CTD are offering free rides

Speaker 3: 00:47 for the first time. The metropolitan transit district is offering free rides on all trolleys and buses for new year's Eve. So will the North County transit district, which does this promotion annually. All this in an effort to encourage people to use transit and also make sure people are getting home safely for new years. Nathan Fletcher is chair of the MTS board.

Speaker 4: 01:05 New year's Eve can be one of the deadliest days on the road due to the intoxicated people getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. You don't want to begin a promising new year behind bars for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Speaker 3: 01:16 There will also be late night trolley service today. The green line from downtown to San Diego state will run past 2:00 AM and so will the UC San Diego blue line from America Plaza to San Ysidro and the orange line from courthouse station to El Cahone. No pass or promotion code is needed to catch these free rides. Just hop on a bus or train after 6:00 PM Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 01:36 Starting Wednesday, minimum wage workers in California will see a hike in their paycheck. KPBS reporter Priya Sri there spoke to some San Diego businesses about the impact. This statewide law increases the minimum wage rate for businesses with fewer than 25 employees from 11 to $12 an hour. Bigger businesses will see the rate increase from 12 to $13 an hour. It's part of an effort to raise the minimum wage in California to $15 an hour. By 2023 Mikey NAB runs two locations of Ponce's Mexican restaurant.

Speaker 5: 02:10 It's going to mean that our employees who make minimum wage get an extra dollar an hour, which is nice because the cost of living in San Diego is really, really high. A lot of folks who work for minimum wage cannot afford to live near where they work and unfortunately that includes where I run my restaurants.

Speaker 1: 02:25 But many business owners say that increased labor costs will cause them to raise prices and potentially hurt their profits. Prius Sri, their K PBS news as soon as should be easier and cheaper for Californians to build a second smaller housing unit on their property. Capitol public radio is Chris Nichols reports as part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2020

Speaker 5: 02:49 Sacramento resident Dov Kayden says he's always valued, efficient, how's that? 40 feet by 150 feet long. So when he bought a home on a long, skinny lot in the city's Oak park neighborhood, he decided to build a second smaller unit. And rent it out. It was for us about both making that good financial investment while also doing something that we felt was helping the community. Kayden is one of many Californians building accessory dwelling units or U use also called granny flats or Casita's. Lawmakers have passed several measures in recent years to encourage them starting in January, several more new laws are expected to help. One reduces fees, local governments charge to build these units. Another speeds up the approval process. Matthew Lewis is with California UMB which advocates for more housing. As you start to sprinkle these things throughout neighborhoods, you can start to put a pretty big dent in uh, the housing shortage, at least at the local level. Governor Gavin Newsome has pledged to boost California's housing supply. Researchers say the state needs more than 3 million more units to meet demand in Sacramento. I'm Chris Nichols.

Speaker 3: 04:02 The need for blood is extremely high in San Diego right now. The holidays are a time when blood donations drop off and KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says the blood bank is asking for help right now. The San Diego blood bank is running dangerously low. On the most common type of blood O positive and negative. Richard Barker from spring Valley has been giving blood since the mid 1980s. He's donated 54 gallons since then.

Speaker 5: 04:25 You might be surprised. Uh, it's very, very quick. I, it's not painful at all.

Speaker 3: 04:31 Others say the same thing. Giving blood is easy and it makes them proud. Knowing they're helping save lives.

Speaker 6: 04:35 I leave here feeling better about myself. I don't know how else to say it, but you know, just knowing that you could have helped save somebody's life. There's, I can't really imagine doing anything better in your day than that.

Speaker 3: 04:48 Marsha stub doesn't have the type O blood in short supply right now, but her daughter does.

Speaker 6: 04:52 She made an appointment. She's coming in Saturday, so I'm trying to round up all the O positive so that I can

Speaker 3: 04:57 to donate. You must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 114 pounds. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 05:03 California has started slashing Medi-Cal benefits such as eye glasses, speech therapy, and incontinence treatments as a cost saver during the recession, but new funding and the latest budget will bring those benefits back. This January Capitol public radio is healthcare reporter Sammy K Ola has more. The federal government doesn't require States to cover these benefits for adults on Medicaid, so they were the first to go when California needed to shrink the medical budget in 2009 a trailer bill following the latest state budget, allocate 17 point $4 million to restore these benefits next year. It follows a recent push to restore dental coverage, which was also cut. The need for eyeglasses and podiatry services is likely to continue as people age and diabetes cases rise. Some other services were slashed a decade ago and still haven't come back like chiropractic care in Sacramento. I'm Sammy Kayla. Fewer than 10% of California's teachers are nonwhite men, and that's a problem because they could play a significant role in helping to close the achievement gap for black and Brown boys as part of our California dream collaboration. K QEDs. Vanessa Rancano reports

Speaker 7: 06:14 today in third period English teacher. Darryl McKellar has a writing assignment for his ninth grade students.

Speaker 8: 06:20 So this is what I'm asking you guys to do. What does racism mean to you? How was racism related to uh, the apartheid that's discussed in the text?

Speaker 7: 06:27 They seemed sorta kind of interested but some phones are out.

Speaker 8: 06:31 How many people have experienced, let's do it this way. You've experienced something because you black or Brown, you've experienced something

Speaker 7: 06:36 hands go up around the room. All the students in this veteran teacher's classroom in South central LA are black or Latino. Jay Kwan says two days ago he was at a store in Santa Monica that was just following me around, like keeping a close eye on me, seeing if I was going to steal something. McKellar tells the students about a time in college when a classmate made a racist comment about him.

Speaker 8: 06:57 I have flipped out before it. Cause if I, if I flip out then what? I get kicked out. The class can't graduate then you would never have me in front of you.

Speaker 7: 07:05 He gets a smile out of the students. They keep their eyes on him

Speaker 8: 07:09 and I don't want you guys to be, to be part of that. Oh well you know I'm black, I'm Brown, I ain't going to make it. I go to school in the hood, I call BS on that.

Speaker 7: 07:20 That make your life hard. Keller's ability to connect with his students to relate to and understand their experiences makes a difference. When students of color have teachers of color in classrooms like this one, there's strong evidence, they learn more finished high school at higher rates and are more likely to aspire to college.

Speaker 8: 07:39 When you see someone in front of you that looks like you and you can relate to what they're talking about and they can code switch and come, come to where you're at and then come back out and say like, see, I just jumped somewhere else but I was just there with you. So what does that mean that you need to do? And I think I had a jump with you. So

Speaker 7: 07:58 for almost my whole school year, life only had like woman teachers, student Elijah foster says having a teacher like McKellar is still a pretty new experience. His classmate Tyler banner says it's just different. It feels like the man expect more out of you see him as like the homie, like a close friend, like as in Mike, trustable McKellar knows he can play a critical role for his students. That's why he sharing his 20 years experience in the classroom with aspiring male teachers of color. He's part of a program at a handful of California state university teachers colleges. That could be a model for getting more men of color into teaching because sometimes we could sit in a classroom and it's 25 young ladies and it's only like three of us. 28 year old Fabienne floras is in the future minority male teachers of California program. He says he almost quit early on after a veteran teacher warned away from the profession saying it's underpaid, undervalued.

Speaker 9: 08:58 I was kind of like on the ropes like, yeah, should I continue? Yes, no bad. I don't really belong. Even

Speaker 7: 09:04 he says, having McKellar as guidance and a support group of other men of color gave him the confidence to believe that not only does he belong, he's really needed, but he had another problem. He was scrambling to pay for school and that's not unusual, especially for students of color who are disproportionately burdened by debt. The program offered Florida is a $5,000 scholarship.

Speaker 9: 09:27 I would not be here if it wasn't for that extra money.

Speaker 7: 09:31 Now for him, it's a matter of overcoming his own doubts about what comes next. What scares me is

Speaker 9: 09:39 getting a job at an elementary school where I don't have a mentor that shows me the ropes.

Speaker 7: 09:46 Domingas Hills is trying to make sure students like Florida stay on track to finish and move into classrooms as full fledged teachers. The next challenge is actually keeping them there. In Los Angeles, I'm Vanessa [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 09:59 When a life is vitally taken, the person most deeply impacted is typically the mother who gave it. That's why a local victims impact group called mothers with a message vast to break the cycle of violence by rehabilitating offenders from the inside out. KPBS as Maya troubles. He first brought you this story earlier this year. Here's the first of her two part series.

Speaker 10: 10:23 It's a busy morning at Mount hope cemetery in San Diego. A freshly dug grave awaits its new resident while others are being prepared for theirs. It's a familiar place to bevel and Bravo.

Speaker 6: 10:36 This is where my, my son is buried.

Speaker 10: 10:38 Seven years ago, her 21 year old son Heimaey jr was stabbed and left to die as he walked out of a friend's house in city Heights,

Speaker 6: 10:46 my son. But I believe that day was a some sort of gang day.

Speaker 10: 10:51 Her pain as raw now as it was then. And during the five years she spent in court until two men were finally convicted of Jaime's murder.

Speaker 6: 10:59 And I went into court crying for the son that I have lost and I left that courtroom crying for these young people that decided to take my son's life.

Speaker 10: 11:10 She decided to use her own tragic story to effect change together with other moms of murdered sons and daughters. She formed a group called mothers with a message.

Speaker 6: 11:21 So it's a mother's pain. We carry our child for nine months and when that child is taken at whatever age that may be, something inside of you dies.

Speaker 10: 11:33 The women took their grief into the community hoping to divert youth before more murders took place. But also after, within the correctional system itself. Look how many people that you've hurt because of your choice. And that is exactly where Dennis Martinez knew their message would be taken most to heart. When I heard that

Speaker 2: 11:54 story, when she shared that time for the first time, you could hear a pin drop and I knew that this was gonna be be a success. Hi, I'm former world and us skateboard champion, Dennis Martinez. I lost everything, my titles, my sponsors, and my life to drug, but he turned a life [inaudible]

Speaker 10: 12:13 diction fueled crime into prison ministry.

Speaker 2: 12:16 I don't care if they're blasted with tattoos or whatever crime they've committed, if they're willing to change, I was willing to work with them.

Speaker 10: 12:22 He now runs a faith based residential treatment center in spring Valley for offenders entering back into society.

Speaker 2: 12:30 When you go to prison, your family goes to prison, your wife goes to prison, your kids go to prison.

Speaker 10: 12:35 Training center is a state licensed facility designed to help transition men back to life on the outside

Speaker 2: 12:41 and that's my job is to get these guys prepared to come out and so I need the right tools to accomplish this. I need the shotgun blessed and the mothers where the message is my shotgun blast

Speaker 10: 12:51 together Martinez and mothers with a message created a curriculum of rehabilitation, which they then brought inside the walls of California prison

Speaker 2: 13:00 and you would see hundreds of inmates come. They would stop what they're doing and they would listen to what the moms had to say. And then they talked about, I forgave that person who killed my kid. They hear forgiveness, they hear redemption.

Speaker 10: 13:16 For many offenders, it would be years, even decades in prison before they can humanize their victim.

Speaker 2: 13:24 Hey, Mike Todd together who went through a struggle.

Speaker 10: 13:30 Matthew Konan was 19 when he entered the prison system.

Speaker 2: 13:34 I shot and killed somebody. I was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison on a 20 life sentence.

Speaker 10: 13:42 He served 25 years, mostly in maximum security facilities before finally earning parole. But he says it took most of that time and a long list of behavioral and fractions before he would change his mentality. He says the mothers and their message finally gave him a vicarious look at his own victims family.

Speaker 2: 14:03 You hear their story. You can't help but realize what you did and and despise what you did, and it just changes your Remos, your thinking. So the class is priceless and put myself in this position where I'm locked in this cage

Speaker 10: 14:16 now as a free man. Conant also known by the rapper name MC joins Martinez and mothers with a message inside the prisons and at training center testifying how he was rehabilitated from the inside before he was let out. Maya treble, C KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 14:39 That's it for San Diego news matters today. Consider supporting this podcast by becoming a KPBS member today. Just go to kpbs.org/membership.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.