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Black Lives Matter:

Stockton Unified School District began providing services to students in 1852 and is located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, near the banks of the San Joaquin River, on land originally inhabited by the Yokut and Miwok people. SUSD is the 17th largest school district in California, whereby 40,000 PK-12th grade students come to us seeking to experience an academic journey that leads to high school graduation and success in college, in careers, and as actively-engaged community members.  We currently have approximately 2, 297 African American/Black students in the SUSD.  That is approximately 9.5% of our total student population.

As a district, we understand that silence is complicity and with this statement, we reaffirm that Black Lives Matter!

We are against, and appalled by, the social injustices that continue in today's society.  We also recognize the role the education system plays in continuing those injustices with practices that disproportionately affect our Black students.  We support the Black Lives Matter movement and in doing so, acknowledge the need to make the changes necessary in our schools for every Black individual to have equitable access to the education they deserve. 

Race refers to physical differences that groups and cultures consider socially significant. Ethnicity refers to shared cultural characteristics such as language, ancestry, practices, and beliefs. When we reference the term Black, it is important to note that some American people of African ancestry prefer “Black,” and others prefer “African American”; both terms are acceptable. People of African descent have widely varied cultural backgrounds, family histories, and family experiences. “African American” should not be used as an umbrella term for people of African ancestry worldwide because it is too limiting for the current population and obscures other ethnicities or national origins, such as Nigerian, Kenyan, Jamaican, or Bahamian. Those who are descendants of slaves were referred to as African American. However, this percentage of people is going down. We have more black people here from other parts of the diaspora and other parts of the continent. Whenever possible, use the racial and/or ethnic terms that someone chooses to identify as. 

While education plays a substantial role in the success of our students, so too does the Stockton community. As a community, we make a difference by having conversations with our students about the injustices, inequalities, and racism that still exists. Becoming aware of our differences and teaching all of our students how to respect & value these differences through their thoughts, beliefs, and actions is the first step to combat racism.

We recognize that, as a public education organization, we have a special obligation to uplift, support, and raise awareness aligned with the needs of students we serve. Our Black students have the right to be healthy, loved, educated, and safe. Because of this, it is part of our mission to continuously strive toward equitable access to education for Black students so that they are able to thrive in our schools and in our community. We believe all individuals should be treated with respect & dignity, no matter their race, ethnicity, native language, ability, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, indigenous heritage, or national origin. Thus, our Black students should be treated no differently.

As educators, we will continue to advocate for, and work toward, systemic changes for our students and our community. We recognize our power as an institution and the role that the District, through its policies and practices, have played in perpetuating systems of racial injustice, oppression, and white privilege in our classrooms and in our fields.

Silence is not an acceptable option - we must commit to being actively anti-racist. We are ethically and morally obligated to advocate for the dismantling of policies, practices, and procedures that sustain institutional racism and work to realize equity and justice in our schools. Where you don’t see our system living up to these ideals, we ask for your support in naming these injustices and invite you, as collaborators, to undo these systems of oppression to better serve our youth and families.

We have been and will continue to be, advocates for equity and social justice for the families we serve. We understand that all lives can't matter until Black Lives Matter. School Counselors create annual student outcome goals, to focus on closing the gaps, many of which target our suspension rate that disproportionately affects Black students.

The Department of Educational Equity was established in July of 2017 and a Director of Educational Equity was hired. Since then the Educational Equity Department has worked with SUSD  stakeholders and has been engaged in ongoing analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data in order to assess the current needs of the district, identify any equity, opportunity and access gaps that impede student achievement and student success and to work with stakeholders to address them. The SUSD and Educational Equity Department is committed to taking affirmative steps to support its school-site leadership, teachers, staff, and parents, and to support ALL students  with the goal of eliminating the disproportionate number of  Black students, students of color and students with disabilities who are suspended and expelled in the SUSD and to eliminate any inequitable discipline policies and practices. 

Additionally, since 2017, the Educational Equity Department has provided Equity Focused Professional Development to SUSD staff including central office directors, administrators, site administrators, teachers and support staff in the areas of Unconscious Bias, Equity Leadership, Racial and Cultural Discrimination and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Practices.

To the Black community: We see you. We support you. We stand in solidarity with you. We fight for you.

If you have a student that is negatively impacted by racism in relation to the current social and political climate and would like support in discussing these matters, please don’t hesitate to contact your school counselors.

Respectfully,

Stockton Unified School District