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State to roll out programs in schools to address racism, bias

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Posted at 11:52 AM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 15:35:08-04

The California Superintendent of Schools on Wednesday announced a new push to address race, racism, and bias in schools throughout the state.

During his weekly press briefing, State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond discussed the growing conversation about race and racism following the death of George Floyd.

He said the state is rolling out a new implicit campaign talking about the roles of racism and bias in schools and the impacts on students.

"We know there's disproportionality in suspensions. We know that we've had an achievement gap. We know that there are learning gaps. We know that there are many conditions that are exacerbating the experience of African American and Latino students and API students and low-income students," Thurmond said. "We know there's a double disparity around income inequality for many of these students. And many of these students come from groups that have a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. We're talking about bias in many ways and as I said, we're going to build a training module and allow school districts to engage in training on implicit bias."

Thurmond said the state will be rolling out what's being called a "virtual support circle" to allow students and staff to talk about ongoing race relations.

He said the state will be providing immediate support to students, saying he knows they've been impacted by the images they've seen in connection to race, police brutality, and racism across the country.

"We know the impact of these events can cause trauma for our students. So we've organized a virtual support circle to give us a chance to support students," he said. "First and foremost, we want to support students. We want to give them a way to let them express their feelings. We want to give them a way to express ideas for making change. And we want to provide direct support."

He said students helped launch the virtual support circle and will be part of a student advisory panel to help forward the discussion.

"We anticipate that we will have a robust conversation about race and racism and the impact it has on our students. And then listening to our students and get ideas about what we need to do differently in our schools, what we need to do differently in law enforcement, what we need to do differently in government, what we need to do differently in society because racism, quite frankly, exists in every sector and bias exists in every sector. We have all have bias. And in many cases that bias is unconscious."