CJUHSD Staff, Parents and Students:
In this defining moment in our history, citizens across the United States, and here in our local community, are speaking out about racism, injustice, and oppression toward African Americans.
Many of our own students have taken part in peaceful protests, joining individuals of a wide variety of ethnicities, faiths, and backgrounds in advocating for their own rights or fighting in solidarity for the rights of their peers. To see them take to the streets, at times putting their own health in jeopardy, is a reminder that racism exists and Black Lives Matter.
Their activism also serves as a message to us in the Chaffey Joint Union High School District (CJUHSD) of our moral and ethical obligations to our students and this community. As an educator and Superintendent for the CJUHSD, it is my responsibility, along with the responsibility of our staff, to examine and revise structures in our schools and classrooms that may deny access and opportunities to our African American students and other students of color. It is my commitment to you, to our families, and to our students that we will take the steps and actions necessary to bring about substantial change in the outcomes for our students.
In the past two years, we began to participate in critical conversations as we examined our internal systems and practices that needed to change. I want to share with you what we have done and, more importantly, what we plan to do.
What we have done:
- Analyzed enrollment in our Honors/AP courses to see where there were inequities of representation across our courses.
- Examined disciplinary and suspension data to address the disproportionality issues associated with school discipline.
- Analyzed and disaggregated student achievement data (A-G completion, Freshmen Success, and data on the California School Dashboard) to study opportunity and access gaps among student groups.
- Provided professional learning to improve classroom instructional practices that promote inclusivity.
- Examined and adopted curriculum that reflects a diverse society. Increased ethnic studies opportunities for students.
- Actively recruited and retained highly qualified and talented African American leaders, and significantly increased the number of females, Hispanic, and bi-lingual administrators.
- Provided training for our staff through the Anti-Defamation League to focus on multicultural awareness that helps teachers address bias and prejudice in the school community.
- Worked with the BLU Educational Foundation to establish African American parent groups at some District high schools.
What we will do:
- Continue to provide professional learning to improve equity at our schools. This includes self-examination and a practical response to our own personal and cultural identities, our own biases, prejudice, and discrimination which reinforce injustices perpetrated in our school communities.
- Provide comprehensive cultural proficiency training to build classroom and school communities that recognize and honor students’ cultural and ethnic identities.
- Continue to monitor student discipline data and research alternative approaches to student behavior so that any classroom and discipline practices, that reinforce systems of injustice for students of color, will be adjusted to ensure that we are not disproportionately penalizing our students of color and students who are socio-economically disadvantaged.
- Increase access to academic opportunities, such as honors and AP courses, by recruiting, mentoring, and retaining students of color and students who are socio-economically disadvantaged. Increase the percentage of African American students’ college enrollment.
- Redesign our core curriculum to recognize and honor the cultural and ethnic diversity of our students so that they see themselves in authentic and empowering contexts in fiction and throughout history, including ethnic studies’ opportunities.
- Continue to work with our Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion to do site-by-site self-examinations of the racial conflicts present on each campus in order to formulate local plans about addressing equity and inclusivity on a student and teacher level.
- Work with our student leaders on anti-bias training, focusing on peer-to-peer interactions so that our students feel safe to have conversations about bias and race with one another and across campuses. Involve student groups on all campuses to ensure they can share their voice to be a part of solutions.
- Examine hiring practices and promote opportunity to hire staff in certificated and classified positions that are representative of our student population. This may include recruitment strategies, internships, and college agreements.
- Ensure schools and classrooms are safe spaces for all students, especially our students of color.
- Continue to work with the BLU Educational Foundation to establish African American parent groups at other District schools.
While these are our initial actions, we are committed to the longer journey. We must continue to listen and learn as we build partnerships within our District’s community, as we pledge to work collaboratively to ensure all students have access to a high-quality education and achieve our vision to graduate college and career ready.
Mathew Holton, Ed.D.
Chaffey Joint Union High School District