The African American Success Framework (AASF) is a project adopted by the BUSD Board in 2022. The framework is described on the Berkeley Schools website as “a written document that expresses the district’s and community’s view of the strengths, opportunities, and challenges present for African American students,” and aims to create a plan to dismantle barriers towards success for Black BUSD students.
On February 14th, Berkeley High’s Principal Juan Raygoza reached out to the student body via email with an application form, encouraging students to consider applying to be student representatives for next year’s African American Success Advisory Committee (AASAC). The committee advocates and advises the Superintendent, Board Directors, and other staff while they create the framework. By now, two BHS students have been selected for the committee, Yemarej Alexander and Haleemah Mujahid.
“The Superintendent’s AASAC was identified as a key element in making sure the AASF was implemented and effective,” said Matthew Espinosa, one of the facilitators for the committee. “The voices of our community, especially our Black/African American community, were critical in the development of the AASF initiative, and we knew there would be a need for ongoing input from our students, families, and other community partners as we implemented the actions in the framework.”
According to Espinosa, the primary goals of the framework are to improve academic performance, provide high-quality, differentiated professional learning, create a safe and inclusive climate and culture, and engage with families and communities.
“The framework itself is saying, how do we begin to change institutional and organizational culture so that it aligns to a framework, so that we can do our best work on behalf of students,” said BUSD African American Success Manager Kamar O’Guinn, who created the program.
O’Guinn also shared that from the start, the framework has addressed this lack of resources for many students by working with programs such as College Bound, Stepup Academy, or Young Gifted and Black as those three programs help provide direct services to students.
Members of the committee will consist of students, family members, and community members whose organizations work with African-American success.
“I joined the AASAC because I wanted to try something new and discuss the many problems that many African American students in our communities go through and face,” said Haleemah Mujahid, a current junior who will serve as one of the student representatives for the committee next year. “I would like to see improved outcomes for African American students and families in my community.”
Yemarej Alexander, a junior who will also serve as a student representative for the committee next year, stressed the importance of having Black students’ voices represented in these types of conversations.
“In a large school such as Berkeley High with a large, often disproportionate, percentage of non-black students, Black voices are often talked over or not even a part of the conversation, which can also leave the Black students feeling like outsiders in a community we should be a part of,” Alexander said.
Alexander added: “As an African American student with siblings, I see and experience firsthand the effects of students like myself not having enough resources, so to be able to give back to my community in such a way always feels good to me.”