This week, PolicyWise Episode 13 focuses on educational equity and creating an inclusive K-12 curriculum as Demitria Wack and Michael Wiafe welcome California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Mehek Kandru, a high school student and member of the CA FWD Young Leaders Advisory Council.
The four talk about the Education to End Hate Initiative which the California Department of Education launched last year to “empower educators and students to confront the hate, bigotry, and racism rising in communities across the state and nation.” They also discuss the importance of Assembly Bill 101 which would make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement.
“We have seen this spike in hate since 2016, and my team and I have always been looking for ways to use education to counter those spikes,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “Literally, after the killing of George Floyd, we announced a campaign to help provide training to school district staff to address issues of implicit bias so we can close disproportionality in our schools.”
Including ethnic studies in the high school curriculum is another step forward to an inclusive education for California students. Kandru, a daughter of immigrants from India, shared her experiences after reading the works of Zora Neale Hurston. “It was the first time someone told me that the struggles from our skin color isn’t the only thing we have to tell. There is so much more,” said Kandru, adding that “it doesn’t always have to be political.”
Superintendent Thurmond summed up the efforts, saying, “We believe that education can be a connector and in spite our differences, we have more that brings us together and more that we have in common.”