Promote Racial Justice Curriculum in Burlingame School District
Promote Racial Justice Curriculum in Burlingame School District
Dear Mr. Christopher Mount-Benites, Marla Silversmith, Kay Coskey, Davina Drabkin, Elizabeth Kendall, Kate Reed, Florence Wong and the rest of the Burlingame School District,
cc: Burlingame City Council: Mayor Emily Beach, Council Member Michael Brownrigg, Council Member Donna Colson, Vice Mayor Ann O’Brien Keighran, Council Member Ricardo Ortiz
The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Elijah McClain and so many others have sparked widespread awareness of the long-standing injustices against Black people in this country since 1619.
We are a group composed of Burlingame community parents and community members who believe that BSD must fully confront the 400+ years of racial injustice and oppression enacted upon Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States. Burlingame students must graduate with a thorough understanding of the ingrained institutional and systemic racism that prevails in our country today and acquire the tools to enact change.
We appreciate the resolutions and board policies that have passed to denounce racism and classism, such as the Equity & Diversity Resolution and the Equity Board Policy 0415 as well as including an Equity & Diversity update during each board meeting. However, we believe that the district needs to do more and act with even greater urgency to create an inclusive, accessible, diverse, and equitable learning environment for all of our students and directly address contemporary racial justice issues.
Therefore, we call on BSD to implement the following, some of which may already be under consideration:
1. Form a diverse committee formed of at least half BIPOC administrators, teachers, students, parents, alumni and other active community members to spearhead racial justice education and ensure racial equity in our schools. This committee should be responsible for acting as a liaison between the district and the community. Plans, timelines, and progress on accomplishing the following points should be shared with the greater community in the spirit of transparency and accountability.
2. Create and Implement anti-racism curriculum for grades K-8 to address topics such as racial identity, the contemporary history of race relations in America (post-1965), and ongoing systemic and institutional racial issues both nationally and specifically in our community. This curriculum should be interdisciplinary and infused across subjects. For example, in English classes, students should be assigned more texts directly related to systemic racism, allyship, and activism. At least half of the literature read by students should be written by BIPOC authors. As another example, in social studies classes, teachers should directly address issues like privilege, police brutality, redlining, mass incarceration, gerrymandering/ voter suppression, and the continuous oppression of the Indigenous population as well as highlight content around Juneteenth. The district should introduce regularly scheduled assemblies and workshops with qualified speakers who are BIPOC for grades K-8 to address issues of systemic racism.
3. Be a district of upstanders against racial injustice. The district should stand in solidarity with BIPOC, by releasing statements of acknowledgment and support for affected communities when public incidences of racial injustice occur. Furthermore, the district must take a preventative stance against both overt and covert racism within the Burlingame community.
4. Diversify the teaching and administrative faculty with specific quantitative goals to help keep ourselves accountable to progress. The district should specifically aim to hire more BIPOC teachers and administrators tied to the percentage of BIPOC students in each school. The district must make a public commitment to improve minority representation, and demographic data of faculty composition should be made available to the Burlingame community on an annual basis.
5. Mandate extensive diversity, inclusion, sensitivity and unconscious bias training for faculty and staff. Training should include topics on anti-racism, gender equity, culturally responsive teaching, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious diversity and should be administered by reputable, vetted organizations.
Numerous school districts across the country are being asked to implement large-scale changes to improve education addressing racial injustice and inequality. Eliminating racial injustice in Burlingame schools and helping eradicate it in our society, will require a rigorous, comprehensive, and sustained effort. We ask that the district proactively confront issues of racism and injustice. We cannot be afraid to talk about racism in America. Conversations about race and racial injustice are best introduced at a young age to foster empathy. As our students enter adulthood, we need to equip them with the ability to have mature conversations about difficult topics.
By equipping Burlingame students with the resources needed to critically engage in ongoing conversations about racial inequality, we empower students to enact positive change in their communities and fulfill the BSD mission of creating “...resilient, curious, compassionate, problem-solvers who are prepared for their future."
We, the signatories of this letter, are calling on BSD to enact upon the aforementioned demands. We commit to partnering with the schools to educate ourselves and our children about anti-racism and social justice to reinforce these values and actions in our community. We recognize and commend the actions that BSD has taken thus far, and acknowledge that individual teachers are making efforts to discuss racial injustice in their classrooms. However, we must combat racial inequality and systemic racism through a standardized and united district-wide commitment to keep these issues at the forefront of the BSD curriculum.
Jodi Goldberg & Rob Ulveling, Hoover parents
Amy & Sumanth Sukumar, Hoover parents
Karina & Greg Bell, Hoover parents
Paige & Robbie Austin, Hoover & BIS parents
Jenn & Austin Wade, Hoover parents
Nicole & Phil Koblis, Hoover parents
Alison & Greg Powell, Lincoln parents
Suzie Ghnaim, Hoover & BIS parent
Shannon & Michael Robinson, Hoover & BIS parents
Betsy & Alex Watson, Hoover parents
Jasmin Kwok & John Dannan, Hoover parents
Rosy & Josh Cohen, Hoover parents
Alex and Sara Tokarchuk, Hoover parents
Nikki & Ryan Christensen, Hoover parents
Kate & Rob Buccieri, Hoover parents
Cindy & Jim Greysen, Hoover parents
Cecilia Ziniti & Fred Koopmans, Hoover & BIS parents
Crystal & Evan Aydelott, McKinley parents
Sarah Goglin and Nael Fakhry, Hoover parents
Youngmi & Eugene Kang, Hoover parents
Robin Hendry and Paul DiLaura, Hoover parents
Amy & Peter DiLaura, Hoover parents
Kim & Geoff Smith, Roosevelt parents
Michelle & Bryan Dow, Hoover parents
Marni & Rob Karel, Hoover & BIS parents
Jeff Wong & Tiffanie Sim Wong, Hoover parents
Celeste and Viet Nguyen, Lincoln parents
Maral Mekhjian and Levon Stepanian, Hoover parents