things that matter

We Forget That Not All Teens Have The Means To Go To Prom, But Here’s How You Can Help While You Party

Inside, DJs spin classic funk, freestyle and West Coast hip-hop; out front, homegirls, donning large gold hoops, winged eyeliner and Nike Cortez sneakers take group shots in front of a lowrider — this is Scam & Jam, one of the illest throwback parties in Los Angeles.

Each month, its founders — owners of lifestyle brand Bella Doña Lala Romero and Natalia Durazo and head of weekly lowrider event Los Angeles Cruise Night James Solano — transport guests to the late 1990s and early 2000s.

At the time, the folk behind the event were just high school cats throwing parties in homes and warehouses.

While they create a cultural space for Latinx locals to reminisce about the good times, the creators also remember the hard moments, like not having the bread to go to prom.

Now, the founders are using the nostalgic turn-up to house a donation drive for prom dresses for low-income youth throughout the city.

Scam & Jam has teamed up with A Place Called Home, a South Central nonprofit that provides young people with educational programs, counseling and mentorship, to collect gowns for the organization’s Cinderella & Prince Charming Project, which provides teens with formal attire for prom, senior photos and graduation.

“Scam & Jam is supported by our community, and many of us can relate and empathize to the struggles of prom expenses and are now in a position to donate and help,” Romero told Fierce. “Making an easy central drop-off location just helps streamline the donation process since folks are coming out anyways.”

The next party is March 17, and the team will be collecting new and dry-cleaned, gently used formal dresses, shoes, jewelry, evening bags and shawls, with a preference for plus-size items.

They will continue to gather donations until early April, in time to get the formalwear to A Place Called Home for their two-day Cinderella & Prince Charming Project event. There, more than a thousand young people will pick up their free gowns and suits as well as receive some socializing pointers.

“I personally attend the event and help style the girls,” said Romero, who, along with her business partner Durazo, has helped with the drive for several years. “Without this program, many students would not be able to attend prom, so we are in a blessed position with our platforms to rally support.”

If you’re in LA, drop off your clean, gently used prom, homecoming or graduation dress to Scam & Jam at the Regent Theater on March 17 and then enjoy your fave old-school tunes in an unapologetically Latina girl-power party.

Read: Here’s Why People Are Getting Super Emotional Over This Father/Daughter Prom Tweet

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Why Thousands Of Los Angeles Teachers Are On Strike

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Why Thousands Of Los Angeles Teachers Are On Strike

Since Monday, more than 30,000 Los Angeles educators left their classrooms to go on strike for the first walkout of 2019.

The teachers are demanding a 6.5 percent raise and calling for more funding for public schools, noting that staff is extremely low, with some schools lacking even one nurse or librarian, classes are too large and there aren’t enough desks for students and that the growth of charter schools has created an over-tested student body that views education as more of a business than a right to U.S. youth.

The strike, Los Angeles teachers’ first in 30 years, follows months of unproductive negotiations between the teacher’s union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

On Friday, the school system extended a deal, but teachers rejected it, expressing that they’re fighting for the future of the education system.

Organizers are on Day 3 of the strike, and Los Angeles schools Supt. Austin Beutner laments the demonstration is costing the state millions. On the first day, only a third of the district’s students showed up for class, with that number growing, slightly, in the days that followed. So far, it has cost the school system about $25 million in state funding tied to enrollment, he told the Los Angeles Times. Deducting unpaid wages for the strikers at about $10 million, he continued, and that comes to an estimated one-day net loss of nearly $15 million.

But Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA, said Tuesday that members are “prepared to go as long as it takes” to get a fair contract.

“This has been already an historic week for educators and for public education in Los Angeles,” Caputo-Pearl told the paper.

Tens of thousands of LA teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians were inspired by teacher walkouts throughout the nation, from Arizona and West Virginia to Kentucky and Oklahoma, many of them ending in victories. A triumph for Los Angeles educators would mean an agreement and resources to move toward smaller classrooms, reductions in standardized tests, increased support staff and higher salaries.

“We need to invest in public education,” Jennifer Heath, a drama teacher at Burroughs Middle School, said during Tuesday’s strike. She held a sign that read “FUND THE FUTURE” in red block letters.

Despite rainy weather, educators remain on the picket line, demanding change they believe is necessary for the success of future generations.

“Teachers are dedicated. Teachers become teachers because they want to affect the future and make a difference in human beings’ lives, and we’re passionate about that,” she said. “That’s why we stand in the rain. We’re used to horrible conditions and we can handle more, but we shouldn’t have to,” Hollywood High history teacher Kelly Bender said.

Read: Austin Council Member Delia Garza Just Became The City’s First-Ever Latina Mayor Pro Tem

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L.A. Does Away With The Daily Price It Costs Families To Keep Their Kids In Juvenile Detention Centers

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L.A. Does Away With The Daily Price It Costs Families To Keep Their Kids In Juvenile Detention Centers

Juvenile Centers can cost more than a child’s future. Oftentimes, there’s also a literal price tag attached to incarceration. In Los Angeles, families of kids in juvie had to pay $26.63 a day before 2009, when the county banned the practice. In the years following, however, the government there continued collecting debts incurred before the law was passed. That changed earlier this month when L.A. County supervisors voted to wipe out the fee debt.

On October 9, Los Angeles County supervisors voted to stop collecting juvenile delinquent fees, canceling nearly $90 million in fees. The motion, sponsored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, aims to help families of formerly detained children get back on their feet.

“Collecting fees for juvenile detention undermines youth rehabilitation and public safety,” Solis said in a statement. “It also unnecessarily increases the financial insecurity of vulnerable families. As part of a larger, transformative reexamination of how we serve our justice-involved residents, including our re-entry population, L.A. County is reexamining our approach to juvenile justice. Today’s action helps families and our youth in detention while setting up future generations for success rather than incarceration.”

The move is also being praised by criminal justice advocates, who say detention fees, in addition to hitting marginalized Black and poor communities the hardest, don’t contribute to rehabilitation.

“The two main purposes of the juvenile justice system are to rehabilitate kids and to protect public safety, and it turns out these fees undermine both of those,” Jeffrey Selbin, director of the Policy Advocacy Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, told the Los Angeles Times.

As reported by the newspaper, a study of more than 1,000 young people in Pennsylvania found that the combined cost of fines, fees and/or restitution increase the likelihood of recidivism, the child returning to juvie, within two years.

L.A. County’s decision to forgive the debt of 52,000 accounts is one of the largest discharges to date, and officials hope that it will encourage the rest of the country, where juvenile justice agencies still bill the families of detained youth in 19 states, to follow suit.

Read: Maryland Officer Arrested And Charged For Allegedly Raping An Undocumented Latina

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