SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Education has received a $500,000 philanthropic grant to train all of CDE’s 2,500 employees in implicit bias and to create guidance for school districts across California to help them accelerate their efforts to dismantle systemic racism in education.
During a virtual media check-in Thursday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said this initiative is an important step to addressing the persistent inequities students of color have faced—including academic achievement gaps and disproportionate discipline—for decades in public education.
“Although this work was underway before the tragic deaths of George Floyd and others sparked the widespread unrest we see across the country, we know that we must accelerate the work of disrupting institutional racism with a sense of urgency,” Thurmond said. “We are grateful to be the recipient of such a large statewide investment that will support educators closing achievement gaps and securing racial justice for our students.”
The $500,000 grant was awarded by the S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and secured through a partnership with the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CDE. The grant will fund the California Implicit Bias Training Initiative, a multi-pronged, months-long plan to partner with implicit bias and racial justice experts who will not only train CDE employees across the state, but also help CDE develop resources and guidance for schools to infuse implicit bias training into existing professional development.
During his remarks, Thurmond also called for greater mental health and counseling support for students who are experiencing trauma. The emotional distress of processing the impacts of the pandemic and the tragic events and unrest sweeping across the country are having a cumulative impact on all students, especially black and brown students who are more likely to experience chronic trauma that impacts their academic achievement.
Thurmond invited two experts to join Thursday’s remarks: Dr. Daniel Lee, President-Elect for the New Jersey Psychological Association and Principal Consultant of N-PSY-T Psychological Services, who is developing a model for schools to address the impacts of implicit bias on student achievement, and Christine Stoner-Mertz, CEO of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services. Both spoke about the role that access to quality mental health resources can aid students during this time.
During remarks, both offered insight into how they will be working with Thurmond as he and CDE lead the next steps in this effort.
An archived broadcast of the full media check-in can be viewed on the CDE’s Facebook page.