It’s that time of year when we pay special tribute to the important contributions that blacks have made to our country. Throughout the San Francisco Unified School District, we honor and recognize black history this month and all year long.
Just as importantly, we’re taking action to better serve our black children so they can have bright futures here in San Francisco or wherever they choose to live. Every child, no matter what knowledge and support he or she starts with, can be challenged and supported to reach his or her potential.
Graduation rates and academic proficiency on test scores have been steadily climbing for black students in the SFUSD. However, there remains what we in education call an opportunity gap that has resulted in too many black students faring worse than their peers in school. We must address these challenges head-on.
Fortunately, the SFUSD is not alone in taking on these challenges. There are many leaders in our community who are working hand in hand with our school leaders to ensure our youths have access to an array of high-quality after-school enrichment and career-development opportunities as well as physical and mental health services.
Solutions require listening
I believe we need to be united as a community in service of our children and I also believe that any sustainable and meaningful solution to a problem requires listening to the voices of those most affected. That is why we are finding more ways to hear from the black community, student and parent voices, as well as from those who work with them.
We have many parent groups in the SFUSD and black parents who participate in them, but we also know it is necessary to provide a space for parents of black students to come together and talk about their children’s needs and experiences. At these meetings, we dedicate time for parents to share their feedback and experiences as well as time to inform parents about what is going into their child’s education so they know how to participate.
San Francisco has a long history of reforms aimed at better serving black students and the results have been mixed. This year, I’ve assembled a team that is looking at current and historical data and getting a lot of feedback from parents and others in the community to help develop recommendations for what will have the most positive impact going forward.
Our goal is that every child graduates prepared and ready for success in college and career, and that means students of all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. We are seeking solutions that will not only benefit black students but also other students who have been historically disadvantaged — strategies that will reach all children no matter where they live or go to school.
We know that when teachers personalize learning and get to know and understand their students, children feel more connected to school and are more likely to succeed. Furthermore, when schools operate as full-service community centers where students and their families can access social and emotional support — as well as academics — every family can benefit.
We are moving in this direction at the SFUSD and I eagerly look forward to seeing great progress for our black students along with every other student.
Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.</i>
Events for families of black students
African American Parent Committee
When: Feb. 19, 5:45 p.m.
Where: Leola M. Havard Early Education School, 1520 Oakdale Ave., S.F.
Oratorical Music and Step Contest
When: Feb. 22, 9 a.m.
Where: Thurgood Marshall High School, 45 Conkling St., S.F.
African American Honor Roll Reception and Academic Awards Recognition Day
When: Feb. 26, 6 p.m.