In an emotional plea, California’s top educator is calling on schools and communities to “dismantle institutional racism and educational inequalities.”
During a live stream news conference, Tony Thurmond said that as a black man, as a father, and as an educator, he has struggled to get his mind around what happened to George Floyd.
“It has been difficult for me to make sense of how a man could beg for his life, and still have his life snuffed out,” Thurmond said.
As an elected official, he struggled with how he could be helpful? He said he kept coming back to the importance of education.
“We must use education to have these difficult conversations about race, racism, and implicit bias," he said.
He said he will talk to educators, parents, and students from throughout the state and across the country.
"To talk about what we do in the classroom, to talk about why we have not done more to address implicit bias, to talk about what we need to do specifically about implicit bias," he said.
He said he hopes the conversations will build empowerment and tolerance. He hopes through education, we can find racial justice and ways to prevent the horrible events that have occurred from occurring again.
San Diego Unified School District trustee Richard Barrera said he agreed with the Superintendent.
“It’s a critical time for everyone in society, especially our institutions, to take a look at how we can make it better; but that’s very true about education," Barrera said.
Barrera said the district is moving forward to have ethnic studies become a graduation requirement by the 21-22 school year. He also said the curriculum needs to more relevant to students' lives, and the teaching staff needs to better reflect the diversity of the students.
"I think there are a lot of ideas people in our community, especially our students, have, if we listen to them about what we can do better, how we can do better, and we engage in those conversations and do it in a way that doesn’t assume we have all the answers," he said.