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Educational disparities in SF mirror societal inequities

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The Black Family Pathways to Power and College Resource Fair will be held at Willie Brown Jr. Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Unified School District is one of the highest-performing urban school districts in California. In fact, overall, our students did better than all other California large urban districts on the new standardized tests last year. But the numbers for some of our kids are concerning — and we know it. Some of our kids still aren’t getting the education and support they need at school.

We see evidence that we are still not doing all we can to cultivate the genius and spark of our African-American students. Educational disparities in our schools mirror troubling inequities in our larger society, and we must do better to help all our students fulfill their incredible potential.

A while back, we decided to be bold. Starting with a team of people working to dramatically reduce suspensions for our African-American students, we began to expand training for teachers on topics like positive behavioral supports and implicit bias. We’ve also been investing more in academic and social-emotional support for our African-American students in the schools they attend.

For the last 18 months, our African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative team has been hard at work on multiple student-focused strategies to improve outcomes for our black students. One example of this work is Black Family Day

On Saturday, Jan. 21, our Black Family Pathways to Power and College Resource Fair will be held at Willie Brown Jr. Middle School. We invite our African-American families to learn about dozens of community resources, access important information on school and college and build connections with each other.

This event helps our schools and district tap into the knowledge, perspectives and leadership skills of our black families and community partners. It provides a place for all of us to gather and share information that can help change public and community systems to better serve our students and families.

We convene two of these large gatherings each year, in addition to our monthly African American Parent Advisory Council meetings. I’ll be the first to admit that we have far to go to serve and support our African-American families and students. Some very promising work is underway, and I am grateful to so many in our schools and community who are pulling together to make the changes we all want, and need, to see.


Black Family Pathways to Power and College Resource Fair

When: Saturday, Jan. 21, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Willie Brown Jr. Middle School, 2055 Silver Ave., S.F.

Myong Leigh is interim superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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