SDUSD Makes Racial Equity Reforms

Diversity, inequitable grading practices, ethnic studies, and discipline are four approaches the district is hoping to change

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In the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed, there has been a lot of attention paid to social equality. Now, the San Diego Unified School District is making changes to “dismantle inequitable and racist practices in the district."

During a virtual workshop Tuesday, the board examined four approaches to change that included diversity, inequitable and discriminatory grading policies, ethnic studies, and discipline. 

The board heard from a panel of students about diversity.

“As a student of color I’ve never really seen a teacher of color until well into my years at San Diego Unified," said High school senior Brianna Brown.

The San Diego Unified School District is making changes to "dismantle inequitable and racist practices in the district" -- NBC 7 education reporter examines changes that city schools are considering.

High school senior Maya Castorena spoke about the need for more representation in the curriculum.

“I’ve rarely ever heard about Mexican or Hispanic history, at least not their perspectives, and I’ve learned very little about the perspective of African Americans in history," Castorena said.

Another student gave a personal example of inequitable grading policies.

“I worked on an assignment with a friend. We had very similar answers on our worksheets and we received drastically different grades. My friend received a lower grade," the student said.

The subject of discipline touched a nerve with students.

“It is ridiculous, 66% of all law enforcement referrals in SDUSD is made against black and brown students,” said one student.

She and others called for defunding police on school campuses. Some students also called for more restorative justice, which is an understanding of the wrong and its impact.

The district will form a committee with students, staff, and police to talk about what changes can be made to the police department. The board also voted to have a new de-escalation policy written for police.

The board committed to hiring a more diverse staff, to change grading policies such as changing a grade of F to a “not yet complete” grade so students would not give up and have a chance to improve. Another change will be enrolling more students in ethnic studies and banning some suspensions.

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