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Morning Brief: CSU Black Students' Graduation Rates, New Medical Center Art Exhibit, Margaret Cho Snooze Podcast

Illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr./CalMatters; iStock
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Wednesday, July 13.

Happy Hump Day, my people! It’s Emmy season, baby. And I am so excited for my favorite actresses, actors and TV shows (Issa Rae, Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary, Stranger Things, Euphoria, Ted Lasso, etc.). On that note, I met one of the Emmy nominated actresses yesterday! Stay tuned for more.

But first, let's get to the news…

As you all know, I lean towards focusing on deep, investigative education stories, especially if it has to do with marginalized communities of color and their chances of success. CalMatters published an eye-opening story on Tuesday about Cal State’s poor graduation data regarding Black students. I’ve definitely done some reporting on my own regarding dismal college graduation rates in U.S. colleges, so this is something I am passionate about.

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Did you know that at Cal State, the graduation rate gap between Black and white students is larger than it was 15 years ago?

But you would never know just looking at the data.

According to Fall 2018 enrollment demographics at Cal State, there were 19,301 African American students, which was 4% of the entire enrollment. In the article, CalMatters’ higher education reporter Mikhail Zinsheteyn reports that the population is small at all of Cal State’s 23 campuses.

Zinshteyn reports that Cal State’s dismal data on Black students and their graduation rates goes unmentioned in their public reporting.

Now, how does that happen?

Cal State lumps ethnic and racial groups all under the same category, as “underrepresented minorities.”

And with Latino students representing over 90% of those students in that category, Black students are extremely overshadowed and overlooked. 

Check out this part of the article:

“On average, Cal State graduates 57% of its first-time students who are underrepresented minorities within six years, a gap of 12 percentage points compared with White, Asian and other students who don’t fall into that grouping. But the graduation gap between Black students and students outside the underrepresented-minority category is 20 percentage points — and has been that way for 15 years. 

Last year, across the system, Cal State graduated 770 fewer first-time and transfer Black students after six and four years, respectively, than its targets for 2025.

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In other words, Cal State’s default method of presenting minority data suggests the system is much closer to closing the achievement gap for Black students than it actually is.” 

Mikhail also reports that multiple Cal State decision makers either didn’t make themselves available for the story or declined interviews.

I don’t want to give away the whole story. You have to read it to believe it. It’s truly alarming.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • A new permanent art exhibit at L.A. County-USC Medical Center pays tribute to the women who were forcibly sterilized there, as part of a formal apology by county supervisors for past actions.
  • A petition to recall District Attorney George Gascón collected over 700,000 and has now been submitted to L.A. County election officials. The next step: verifying those signatures. Here’s how that works.
  • If you or anyone you know is considering whether it’s safe to get the COVID-19 vaccination while pregnant, my colleague Mariana Dale has everything you need to know. Spoiler alert: it’s the best chance you have at protecting your baby from the virus.
  • California’s insurance program for low-income people relies on prison labor to make eyeglasses for patients, cutting expenses by as much as 141%. But patients who received faulty prescriptions say the cheap labor comes with its own costs.
  • “Jane The Virgin” writer and UCLA grad Rafael Agustin talked to NPR about growing up undocumented and his journey working in the entertainment industry.
  • Twitter is suing Elon Musk for backing out his deal to buy the social media company for $44 billion. Since agreeing to buy Twitter, Tesla shares, which are Musk’s main source of wealth, have dropped.

Before You Go...Podcast Pick of the Week

Before I get into the podcast of the week, I just wanted to say that I met the lovely, absolutely gorgeous EMMY-NOMINATED ACTRESS Issa Rae yesterday at Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, the coffee shop she co-owns in her hometown of Inglewood. Let’s give her a huge congratulations on her Emmy nomination for outstanding actress in a comedy series (Insecure). I know she’s been nominated before, but maybe she might win this time.

The Associate Editor of The Morning Brief meets Insecure Creator and Actress Issa Rae at Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen in Inglewood on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
(Courtesy of Aaricka Washington)

Every Wednesday, I’m going to highlight a podcast that you should definitely tune into. I will start with a LAist-created podcast. From time to time, I’ll feature an L.A.-centric podcast that I really think you should listen to.

In our first edition of this theme, we’re featuring Snooze, a podcast about “things people put off, how they conquer them, but most importantly, how they conquer themselves.” 

Host Megan Tan talked to comedian Margaret Cho about her high school experience and how she’s dealt with being in the spotlight since her teen years. Take a listen to episode 11 here. 

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