NY Times Editorials on Systemic Racism and its Impact on Education

 In Portal Feature

Dear PUSD Families,

On March 10 and March 14, 2022, Jay Caspian Kang, opinion writer for the New York Times, published two articles in a series about systemic racism and its impact on education.  Piedmont is named in both articles and we’ve been discussing as a school administration, governance team, and staff.

Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, PUSD’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has led many of our discussions and supported me in a response to the following two articles:

Supt. Booker Response to NY Times Editorials

New York Times Editorial – March 10, 2022: When a School Desegregates, Who Gets Left Behind?

New York Times Editorial – March 14, 2022: School Inequality Isn’t Always Just Black and White

The PUSD Board and Administration have named racial equity as a moral imperative.  In addition to adopting a Racial Equity Board Policy, the Board adopted a resolution in 2020 condemning institutional and systemic racism, which included the following two statements:

WHEREAS, we must engage in critical self-reflection as we listen to those who have endured centuries of discrimination and intolerance and who deserve to be heard as they share the truth of their stories, experiences, and feelings; and we must seek with great empathy to understand their challenges and their pain;

WHEREAS, we must engage the Piedmont schools and wider community in meaningful, honest, and ongoing study about race to address narratives, beliefs, and assumptions that perpetuate a hierarchy of human value based on skin color, to build alliances with those committed to justice for all, and to work together to support our shared conviction that racism must end; 

Although it can be uncomfortable seeing Piedmont’s name appear in the media, and you may feel at odds or even disagree with some of the content in these articles, they present an opportunity for us to put into practice some of what we’ve been learning and exploring.  Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard taught us at our professional learning day on January 3, starting with our four agreements:

1- Stay engaged – take a few minutes to read the articles, choose an area that matters to you, and engage in conversation;

2- Speak your truth – talk to someone about what you’re thinking related to Piedmont’s history, our IDT policy, or any aspect of the article;

3- Experience discomfort – this is not the last time something uncomfortable like this will happen because we aren’t going to give up;

4- Expect and accept non-closure – this is not a “one-and-done” conversation; come back to the articles and think about them in light of what you learn from talking with others, and keep talking.

Fighting racism is a journey that takes courage and requires all of us to consistently show up and do the hard work. I’m proud of PUSD’s commitment to racial equity and invite everyone to take one anti-racist action in response to these articles–big or small. Together we can!

Randall Booker, Superintendent