Statement from SBUnified Leaders: Our commitment to expand cultural literacy and combat racism

Dear Santa Barbara Unified School District Families and Staff:

Acts of injustice against Black Americans — including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, and countless others — have caused people of all backgrounds across our country to rise in their shared outrage in search of solutions that can lead to meaningful action and change.

With the conclusion of the school year against the backdrop of unrest in our society, we want to provide an overview of what we are doing as a district to expand cultural literacy, and combat racism at every possible turn. These are just some of our efforts, though we encourage your input and remain committed to constantly improving.

Among our many initiatives are:

  • Multilingual Excellence Transforming Achievement (META) – SB Unified’s newly adopted comprehensive plan for multilingual pathways – ensures that every classroom is safe and equitable and that learning environments embrace and cultivate students’ language, culture and identity.
  • Ethnic Studies Course Graduation Requirement: In 2018, we pushed to make Ethnic Studies a mandatory graduation requirement, not just an offered course at our high schools. We will be presenting a first view of our Ethnic Studies curriculum at our Tuesday board meeting. This course analyzes the power dynamics associated with race and racism – as well as with other aspects of identity such as nationality, class, religion, and sexuality.
  • Just Communities: Through this partnership, we have brought to our classrooms programs such as Talking in Class; Families for Inclusion, Diversity, and Access (FIDA); Family Equity Workshops; and Interpreting for Social Justice (ISJ), which advance justice by engaging our community in leadership development, dialogue, action planning, and mobilizing for social change.
  • Implicit Bias training/staff development: In partnership with Dr. Carmel Saad, professor of psychology at Westmont College, and Just Communities, we have provided implicit bias training to over 500 staff over the last three years. Implicit bias is the concept that we all have biases that operate in our subconscious, or below the surface, that can impact our attitudes, reactions and actions.
  • We are bringing forth a board resolution in response to recent racial violence at our regularly scheduled School Board meeting, Tuesday, June 9.

As a district, we continue to examine and adopt more inclusive hiring practices, support and strive to include the voices of our students of color, and provide opportunities to value the rich cultures and backgrounds of our students and their families.

We’d also like to take this moment to share a collection of resources that can help our families build awareness and create dialogues at home around issues of racism, anti-blackness, and prejudice.

LINK TO RESOURCES

We care deeply about our staff and families and are committed to being part of the solution in combating the small-mindedness and ignorance that stand at the center of racism.

Sincerely,
Your Santa Barbara Unified School District leaders and Board of Education