Dear Benicia School District Community,
On behalf of the Board Trustees and myself, we are sharing this message with our school community in response to the recent events in our country. Our community and people all over the world are raising their voices to end systemic racism that results in inequities and injustices. The tragic death of George Floyd has understandably become a catalyst for people across our country to demonstrate in support of a society that has not consistently demonstrated its commitment to justice for all, particularly to members of our communities of color.
We must come together and continue to support our students and promote and practice equity in all parts of our system. We do not and will not tolerate injustice and racism in our schools. We are committed to continuing to reflect on and revise our work to increase our restorative practices and redesign our curriculum to empower and engage our students of color. To our African American families, we want you to know that we hear what you have to say, knowing we not only need to continue to hear it but also act.
I have been reflecting on the powerful role that public education employees have in helping us to shape a generation who believes everyone must be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity. Our staff and administrators began and will continue the work of implicit bias training, deepening our work in culturally responsive practices and equity.
For the last year and a half, we have been meeting informally with a group of African American parents to get feedback on our program and system as a whole. We will continue this work and are committed to formalizing this group into an African American Parent Advisory Committee. This committee will be launched before the beginning of school next year. The African American Parent Advisory Committee will be charged with looking at helping our District:
- Engage parents as partners through timely, compassionate, honest, and transparent communication and partnerships with families
- Ensure curriculum is relevant, inclusive and engaging through increasing expectations for our students and supporting systems to close the achievement and opportunity gaps
- Get to know and truly see our students of color for who they really are by supporting and focusing on implicit bias and equity training and ensuring we do not promote different standards for behavior for students of color
- Work to increase African American teachers in BUSD
In our schools, we teach and strive to model that communities, whether they are classrooms, schools, neighborhoods, or towns, are stronger when people celebrate differences. In our schools, we teach our students from the earliest ages that they must speak up if ever they feel uncomfortable, bullied, or sad. We teach our students to advocate for their right to be treated with respect, kindness, and compassion. And we teach our students to stand up for one another – to be a community.
The Board Trustees and I sincerely express our deepest gratitude for the wonderful people who work in Benicia’s schools, the people who strive each day to demonstrate that respect and compassion are essential to creating safe learning environments for our students. COVID-19 has forced distancing and a loss of close connections. Months of physical separation combined with our nation’s current unrest shine a bright light on the important role that our public schools play not only in delivering academic content but guiding the keepers of our future toward a more just nation.
Thank you for allowing the Board Trustees and me to share our thoughts with you on the power and importance of the work being done by those who work with our children.
Charles F. Young Ed. D