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Statement from Superintendent Carranza regarding events at Lowell High School

As superintendent of this city’s public schools, I see how much work our staff does every day to create a supportive, thoughtful and thriving culture in our schools and in our offices. Through education, reflection, and intentional corrective action, many are working to eliminate stereotypes and to address racism, and bias, within their community. But we must do better...

Events have been unfolding at Lowell High School over the past few weeks that shine a light on deep and systemic problems we have in this country and right here in our own community and in our schools. An offensive display put up by one student for Black History Month has been a catalyst for students and families to speak up about ongoing concerns.

Some African American students at Lowell have shared with me how they feel their culture is unsupported and how they feel subjected to stereotypes on a regular basis, while at school.

They have shared how they hear careless and stereotypical remarks about their culture and their academic abilities.

I am deeply disturbed, as is the Board of Education, by what we’re hearing, and I applaud these students for speaking up about their experience. For the past several weeks, there have been several conversations about what can be done to change the experience of African American students at Lowell. I can assure you the administrations both here at SFUSD and at Lowell are listening. We are listening to you, and we agree it is unacceptable.

We stand with our students as allies and we thank you—our students—for sharing your experiences and your recommendations. It is absolutely unacceptable that you have had to endure stereotypes from fellow students and, as you have shared with me, sometimes adults. It is absolutely unacceptable that time and again you do not see your race, your culture, or your history reflected in the curriculum and the culture of the school.

Make no mistake—it is our collective job to make sure you—our students—feel safe and supported. It is our collective job to ensure that multiple perspectives and the stories and histories of all races and cultures are woven into math, English, science and social studies classes. It is our collective job to create equitable admissions policies and hire diverse faculty. Ultimately, it is our collective job to make social justice a reality. This Board of Education, this administration, and this Superintendent stand firmly and steadfastly with you!

I call on everyone, and you have my continued commitment, all of us who work in the public school system to call out any racial bias wherever we observe it. Our task is to eliminate any institutional or systemic barriers that persist.

I’d like to commend and appreciate the students who exercised their first amendment right to assemble peacefully today and bring attention to this very important issue. You continue to demonstrate by your actions the best of civic engagement and standing up for what you believe in. I want to assure you that your voices are being heard, respected, and valued.

—Superintendent Richard A. Carranza

Page updated on 02/23/16