Advocacy Race & Racism

We have to do what’s right—when it’s right!

A parent speaks on reopening schools

Families right now are struggling to balance working from home, homeschooling their children during crisis distance learning, and the demands of parenting during shelter-in-place. Latoya Pitcher is one such parent.

This past Tuesday, at the October 20, 2020 Regular Board Meeting, SFUSD staff presented progress on school reopening plans. The Board Meeting had a packed agenda with many other items to discuss, and families had to wait a long time in order to hear and comment on this part of the agenda.

Superintendent Matthews went over the dashboard and explained the plan (The presentation is linked here). After the plan was presented, many families and educators spoke and shared their concerns for the safe reopening of our schools.

Lately, I’ve been hearing the refrain that equity work should be reprioritized in favor of reopening schools. The very idea of this is troubling to me. One of the reasons the Board has continued its commitment to this work is because we know it is integral to educating our kids. When folks say antiracist teaching is “extra”, or that taking the time to plan WITH Black families, instead of FOR them, is not a priority, it makes me wonder which families they are centering.

While Black, Latinx, or Asian families are not monolithic, the concerns they share center around Broadband access, support with instruction in English, navigating technology and the SAFE reopening of schools. Families of color also continually reiterate that they want us to address the emotional trama brought on by the Twin Pandemic of COVID-19 and racism in our country and schools.

Equity doesn’t mean equal. It means centering voices that often go unheard. For this reason, I would like to elevate the voice of a Black parent leader, Latoya Pitcher, who serves on the District African American Parent Advisory Council. With her permission, I’m sharing video from her public comment to the Board. (View the entire section of this agenda here and go to 5:09:47. Ms. Pitcher’s comments begin 06:28:08)

We have to do what’s right—when it’s right!

by Latoya Pitcher, AAPAC Parent

First and foremost, I would like to thank Superintendent Dr. Matthews, the Board of Education Commissioners, and everyone that has worked tirelessly to do what is necessary to get our children back in the classrooms and learning with their friends. I salute you and humbly ask that you all consider the health risks over the parents’ need for child care services.

As a Blackity, Blackity, Black parent of 3 Blackity, Blackity, Black SFUSD students that miss their friends and the classroom setting, it is of utmost importance to prioritize safety and compliance. Some parents’ frustration with kids that they’ve created and planned to let them learn how to be better humans at school shouldn’t be the motivator to reopen schools. I don’t care what other cities or district schools are opening, we shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon trying to keep up with the Jones’. In layman’s terms, we know your kids are tap dancing on your reserve nerve but so are mine. Deal with it! We have to do what’s right—when it’s right.

Furthermore, how are we planning to return to learning and most staff have not completed equity, cultural competence, or trauma-informed instruction and services training? 

Consider the fish in a pond analogy. Imagine a pond where all the fish are sick. Do you blame the fish for being sick or do you investigate to see what’s going on in the pond to make them sick? SFUSD is a toxic pond and our children are the fish that get sicker and sicker each day that they swim in this pond. In this scenario, no one blames the fish for getting sick, but we blame the students and their families for not being well and we go along as if the pond isn’t gravely polluted.

I am urging SFUSD to implement solutions that heal/ inoculate the fish, clean up the pond, and install protective mechanisms to prevent the pond from being polluted again.

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