Initiative for Racial Equity and Justice

As educators we are charged with the responsibility to help students learn about the important history that has shaped the world we live in today, build their capacity for critical thinking and encourage them to participate in civic engagement to help make their communities safer, more just, and prosperous. It is essential that we prioritize equity in our schools and communities by embracing courageous conversations about race so that we can collectively transform our schools and communities into places of love, safety, accountability and equitable opportunities. This is an opportunity to embrace our individual responsibility and inspire our youth to exercise their civic voice to transform the world they will inherit and lead.  

Dr. Faris Sabbah, Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools

The purpose of this initiative is to provide a dynamic hub for educators engaging in courageous conversations about race and equity with each other and their students by providing both links to online resources and an ongoing community of practice on racial justice for local educators. See opportunities and resources below.

Talking to your kids about race

Watch the VideoWhat are we saying to our kids about race even when we don't say anything? Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, explains how it is a false choice whether or not to teach your young child about race because, either way, they're picking up on attitudes about race.  

Healing from hate

COE Equity Series - February 16, 2022: View the RecordingCommunity members, speakers and students explored a path forward from racial injustice in Santa Cruz County, featuring stories from students and social justice advocates. Featured speakers included local students, Rabbi Paula Marcus, Dr. Taunya Jaco and Dr. Ndinki Kitonga. 

Teaching in the wake of violence

From Facing History Today:

It’s our belief that taking care of yourself first is essential for you to be able to support your students and that self-reflection is important preparation for facilitating conversations about difficult current events. I invite you to read the “Start with Yourself” section on page 2 of our Fostering Civil Discourse guide to help you process and prepare for your students.

 Students will also need time and space to process their emotions before analyzing what happened. We suggest that you begin with our lesson: Teaching in the Wake of Violence and, if you have time, consider exploring the activities in this lesson: Reflecting on the New Zealand Mosque Attacks (in 2019), which offers ways for students to deepen their understanding of the troubling rise of white nationalism. You can also use our explainer to build a shared understanding of the key characteristics of white nationalist ideology and clarify some of the terms surrounding it.

Additional support: SDCOE compiled resources for educators and families to discuss mass shootings, including resources specific to the the recent mass shooting in Buffalo

Click on the buttons below to access resources.

Note on language: We recognize that when talking about injustice and the denial of opportunities against people of color, the language we use matters. Engaging in this work requires us to make choices about about key terms. We have consulted with community members in making these choices and we continue to welcome feedback, recognizing that no one individual can represent the experiences and viewpoints of others. Please use the feedback forms at the bottom of each page to share your perspective or to suggest resources.

We are grateful to Allison Garcia for the photographs on this site from her Black Lives in Santa Cruz exhibit. Allison Garcia Photography 2020  ©