I heard about Coronado schools today on a San Diego radio station. It was not the good news I expected to hear. The story summarized actions by some members of the Methodist church - yes - and other Coronadans to oppose the timely school district improvements under consideration by our School Board. Oh, no.
I support the Coronado School Board action to educate students with a complete U.S. history and to support students to reduce racist experiences at school. I support updating curriculum topics including the reading selections. I wish that such policies had been present when I attended Coronado schools.
I was surprised and proud to see a George Floyd Memorial on Ocean Boulevard in Coronado this Spring. I was surprised and proud of the Coronado students who marched to end racism in Coronado schools. I am heartened to see the Superintendent and the School Board act to begin policy changes this school year. Until George Floyd’s death I did not have an appreciation of how incomplete was my education in Coronado schools decades ago.
Until May 2020, I had thought I was open-minded because our Coronado High School class had a black “Most Popular” student, a Japanese ASB President, n Hispanic top student, a Jewish classmate from the East Coast. Then I moved back East into a community that had a diverse population in the socially segregated South. I was disillusioned by the many prejudicial public policies. California had not been that way, in my memory. That is why I continued to think I was “open-minded,” knowledgable about U.S. history and law, not “racist.”
When I earned a CA Lifetime Teaching Credential in 1971 I was told to be patient. My job prospects would be poor because I was a white female. The CA schools had an urgent need then for male and bi-lingual teachers. That made sense to me. I am disappointed to know that many schools lack a diverse staff 50 years later. A diverse faculty and student body shape the outlook of the school population every school day. I hope it will happen in Coronado schools.
When my grandchildren attended Coronado schools in the 2000s the friend of one was bullied as he walked to school - perhaps for his religion. The friend of another - a hispanic district transfer - was addressed with racial insults by a popular teacher. My reaction to those two situations was that you must have a thick skin to be a Coronado student now. I didn’t speak up. Yet I still thought myself open-minded.
At the inception of Black Lives Matter in Missouri a few years ago I was sympathetic, at a distance. The coverage of Black Lives Matter topics in Minnesota, this year, was different. This time I sensed a change in my outlook on U.S. History. The change was internal, unconscious.
Some of the historic information that I have heard recently had been known to me all along. For some reason I did not connect the dots until this year. I had not connected past U.S. history to present public policies and daily news events.
I had known that my remarkable country began with the eradication of original Americans. I had known that my inspiring country is a nation that was founded on the economics of slavery. My impressive country had then developed economic and social and judicial policies that, to this day, are a continuation of the whites-in-charge society of our Founders. I had known of that. Yet I had not thought enough about how it is to be on the receiving end of those policies. Instead I was reassured by the words of hope in the documents of our Founders.
Then came 2020. This unusual year may have given me time, to assess and update, to face-up to, my incomplete, idealistic view of U.S. history. I think I was confused by Black History Month all these years. I heard repeats of Black history success stories - scientists, political leaders, military heroes, jurists. The good stories.
I had heard almost nothing of the massacres, the riots, of Juneteenth, of the details of Jim Crow laws, of broken federal promises, of continuing systematic voter suppression, of work-prisons, of slave-catcher gangs that preceded police units, of lynchings that happened in the South and away from the South, as far away as California, that still happen here.
1619 is a date that means something to me now. The Tulsa Riot, too, thanks to a Presidential rally. I have learned why we all should know more about who was lynched and when and where. A radio broadcast, “On the Media,” featured a Lynching History Museum in Montgomery, Alabama that chronicles lynchings by Counties in the U.S., including in our state, nearby.
Coronado students in 2020 may begin to learn a more complete history of our country than I learned in Coronado schools in the 1950s.
Thank you to the Coronado students, their parents, the Superintendent, the School Board, the faculty, the staff and other supportive members of our community for making the changes to make our Coronado schools even better.
I support: the emphasis on a K thru 12 curriculum and literature that includes the complete U S. history that shapes present public policies; support for students to reduce racist experiences at school; an increase in inter-district transfers to achieve a diverse school population; hiring practices that do the same.