Special Message from the Superintendent
February 23, 2018
The Board of Education and I want to thank all students, parents, staff and community members who participated on Wednesday at the C.K. McClatchy community forum. That we had approximately 300 people take time away from their families and other obligations to join us for this important community conversation demonstrates that we are a community that cares.
I want to thank Mayor Darrell Steinberg for his collaboration and continued support. The strong partnership between our school district and our city matters, particularly as we engage in this important community conversation. Mayor Steinberg put it best when he said, “This is not just a school district issue; this is a city issue as well.”
Like many of you, I was moved by and proud of the students who spoke and added their strong and articulate voices to the conversation.
Much has been said and discussed about the science project from one of our students, but let me reiterate again what this boils down to: no student should ever be made to feel that their race has anything to do with their ability to succeed. As I stated last week, the use of racially offensive language in our schools by anyone – no matter how it is framed – does not reflect our values as a school district and will not be tolerated.
This incident rightfully created a strong reaction from parents, students, staff and community, and is a teachable moment for us all. It requires us to ask important and difficult questions about how we operate as a community and a school district. We are on a journey together to determine how we as a community achieve equity, access, and inclusion for all students.
I have directed staff – and am personally involved – in the review of all our specialty programs throughout the district. We are conducting this assessment through the following lens:
- How many students meet specialty program criteria, but did not apply, and how can we increase the number of applicants?
- Are we ensuring rigorous and high quality instruction at every campus starting with our preschool and elementary schools to create, grow and sustain a diversified pool of students who meet criteria for our specialty programs?
- Is the selection process of our specialty programs fair and objective?
- Have we created a climate where all students feel welcome in our specialty programs?
We have already started to answer the first question, and I encourage you to use this link to view some of the information presented at the community forum. We have also begun to compile notes from community members who spoke and left comment cards for us on each of the questions above.
A great deal of work lies ahead of us, and we need our community with us as a partner to succeed at this critical task. Although the conversation around these issues will be difficult, we should engage in the dialogue openly. We all have different perspectives fueled from our diverse life experiences – that’s the power of community. Only more open dialogue can counteract unreasoned, hurtful speech.
Over the coming weeks, students will continue their conversations around the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as they provide an example of courageous and respectful interaction for us all to follow.
The Sacramento City Unified School District serves one of the most diverse communities in the country. There is power in our diversity – diversity of thought will strengthen us as a community and increase opportunities for our students.
I also encourage you to save the evening of Monday, March 12 for a follow up meeting to Wednesday’s community forum. The follow up meeting will also be held at McClatchy. More details will be shared over the next week.
Once again, the Board of Education and I welcome the input received and the time spent by so many to engage in the conversation. We own this issue together, and I am confident by the involvement of so many that we will find a path toward community solutions. Thank you.
Jorge A. Aguilar