State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Hosts Virtual Student Support Circle on Institutional Racism and Implicit Bias with California Surgeon General

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE) recently hosted an online panel of students to create a space for young adults to have an honest discussion about institutional racism and implicit bias in public schools.

California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a leading expert on the impacts of childhood trauma, was a featured guest alongside students from throughout California. The event was hosted in partnership with the National Equity Project, and the Kingmakers of Oakland.

“If there is any time for us to be listening to our youth, it is now. I truly believe they are going to be the way forward in improving our communities and our world,” Thurmond said. “In order for us to tackle issues of institutional racism and implicit bias in schools, we must listen to the voices of students who are impacted and whose experiences inform our work ahead.”

Following Dr. Burke Harris’ remarks, student panelists from different ethnic backgrounds, regions, and grades answered questions and shared their candid perspectives on racial discrimination and police brutality, social upheaval sweeping across our country, and the trauma experienced by youth during a global pandemic. The students also offered their thoughts to adults and educators on creating the best environments for them to learn and succeed.

Mark Salinas from the National Equity Project led a discussion on necessary learning and implicit bias, explaining the process of associating stereotypes towards categories of people without conscious awareness, which could result in actions and decisions at odds with one’s intentions or explicit values. He then presented possible solutions to implicit bias, such as proactively creating new narratives, amplifying counter-stereotypic messages, and increasing opportunities for human connections and building cross-race, cross-difference relationships.

Superintendent Thurmond has previously announced CDE is launching an initiative to train all of CDE’s 2,500 employees in implicit bias and to create guidance for school districts across California to help them accelerate their efforts to dismantle systemic racism in education.

The Virtual Student Support Circle can be watched on Facebook Live on the CDE Facebook pageExternal link opens in new window or tab.. An archived broadcast will also be posted on CDE’s Instagram accountExternal link opens in new window or tab. (@cadepted), as well as the CDE YouTube channelExternal link opens in new window or tab., and the CDE website at a later date.

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