By Francis Taylor, Executive Editor
On Monday, June 26th, Fre’Drisha Dixon is being sworn in as a licensed CA Attorney by the Honorable Judge Kevin Filer, at the Compton Courthouse. On June 28th she is taking a bus load of parents, students, educators, and community members from Inglewood to the State Capital in Sacramento to advocate for local control of Inglewood’s school district and urge the legislators to pass a bill in the 2024 Legislative Session that will accomplish this goal.
She has arranged for buses coming from every local city that is impacted by receivership and invites any Inglewood resident who would like to join the trip sign up. This day trip, by Parent Voices Action!, is providing the transportation and food and is being hosted at the Capitol by Assemblywoman Tina McKinnor, Assemblywoman Mia Bonta, and Assemblyman Josh Hoover.
INGLEWOOD TODAY had an opportunity to speak with Ms. Dixon and she was gracious enough to answer the following questions. You have an impressive background what sparked your interest in community activism?
“I was sparked into activism in 2014, particularly after Mike Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. At the time my son was 10 years old but that killing and all the frequent killings of Black people, especially young Black men, made me want to do something to prevent such travesties from happening to my son, nephews, brothers, father, and Black folks in general. That was when I caught the activism bug.”
What is your relationship with local school boards? “I’m an Inglewood resident who has a child who matriculated through the Inglewood Unified School District and cares about educational equity for the youth in our community. I have no special relationship with IUSD’s Board perse, but through my work, I advocate for them and all the California School Boards that are in receivership or on FCMAT’s watch list. I work as a Statewide Coalition Organizer for Parent Voices Action! I’m responsible for building a coalition of California school districts, childcare centers, and community colleges to combat school closure and receivership.”
Tell me about the position you recently accepted with Northern and Southern California schools.
“As mentioned previously, I recently accepted a position with Parent Voices Action!. I have been in the fight to keep IUSD schools open for about a year and a half now. Through my organizing in Inglewood, I related to organizers in Oakland who were also fighting to keep their schools open. We worked together to combat this issue for about a year before they offered me the opportunity to help expand our coalition.
I have been an activist for a decade, and this is my first time being paid for my work. This position is truly a dream job for me. It also allows me to utilize my legal skills by drafting legislation and working with Legislators to develop and pass laws that benefit the people who live in our community. I’m looking forward to using this position to usher in change and progress for Inglewood students, families, educators, our school district, and all the other public-school districts in California.”
What do you think about the development Inglewood has recently experienced “SoFi Stadium, INTUIT Dome, Youth Orchestra, etc., I don’t see the sports and entertainment venues as development. I view it as digression because their mere presence has devalued the quality of life for Inglewood residents. I believe in fairness and equality. Therefore, I do not approve of any business operating in Inglewood receiving preferential treatment from our city government, or not being a good neighbor to the
people who live here. I appreciate the Youth Orchestra’s presence. I think our youth are in dire need.
of Music and Arts Programming. Them being here, and supported by our community, is an investment in Inglewood youth.”
What is missing from the recent development- the teams/corporations have gotten a good deal, what about the citizens of Inglewood? “The short answer is, everything is missing for the citizens of Inglewood. Our city government offers no mental health, homeless, or social service programs. There are no grants available for our non-profit organizations or homeowners. Those are necessities and it’s our city government’s job to provide access to these resources and more. The fact that our current Mayor has failed to implement such beneficial programs during his tenure is a clear indicator of his incompetence in his position”. IUSD is under state receivership. What is needed to emerge from that control? We need our Legislators to pass legislation that will restore the legal rights, duties, power, and control of all California Public School Districts that are under State Receivership. The way to do that is to allow State loans to Public School Districts to function as any other loan would. AB 1840 gives the California Superintendent of Schools all the legal rights, duties, and powers of and Public School District who accepts a loan that exceeds 200% of the school district’s recommended reserve. The Inglewood
Unified School District, Oakland Unified School District, Vallejo City Unified School District, South Monterey County Union High School District, were all encouraged to accept more money from the State than what was needed. The only just and Constitutional answer is to allow local communities to control their school district. AB 1840 supersedes the democratic process and takes away citizen’s right to representation on the school board. We vote for our School Board Members so that they can represent us. They are the voice of the community. For the State of California to take that right away from millions of California Citizens is egregious, unconstitutional, and must end today. Race also plays a huge factor because 100% of the school districts that are negatively impacted by AB 1840 consist of Black and Latino Students.”
Why do you think so many Inglewood parents are sending their kids out of the district or to charter schools for education?
“Inglewood Parents are sending their kids out of the district or to charter schools because they want their child to get a good education and they lack confidence in the Inglewood Unified School District’s ability to do so. They are also being displaced by school closures and the threat of more schools.
being closed. Under State and County control, the Inglewood Unified School District has declined in record numbers. Neither the State nor County has ever run a school district before. Our Black and Brown children are essentially “Guinea pigs” in their experiment. We have 33 years of data which show that this system of Receivership does not work. Therefore, it is time we revert to the model that we know yields success and progress, and that is local control.”
If you had a magic wand, what changes would you make to Inglewood’s civic leadership, for small businesses and for Inglewood’s residents?
“I don’t believe in magic wands, but I do believe that a good vision and action create change. I believe that everything I envision will manifest because I’m doing and will continue to do the work necessary to improve things. We need to elect leadership that will make the residents of Inglewood their #1
Priority. The people are the heart of the city, not the corporations. Even the corporations are here to provide a service, goods, or serve the people in some way. I would fund mental health, housing, and social services programs, including Music and the Arts. I would also restructure the Inglewood Housing Authority.
Our housing authority has resources, such as housing vouchers, for homeless and housing insecure citizens. However, they require those in need to go to an agency outside of the city for housing support. I would revitalize Market Street and provide grants to small business owners and new entrepreneurs. I’d like to create a department that specifically focuses on the needs of our small businesses and provides guidance and resources to help them thrive.
My vision for Inglewood is grand and extensive but as for now, I am taking it one day at a time and enjoying every second of my journey.