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Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success

Dr. Deneen Guss, County Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent's Message

A Message from the Monterey County Superintendent of Schools

June 1, 2020

Headshot photo of Dr. Deneen GussDear Monterey County Community,

For the past several months, our county, our state, our nation and our world have come together to prioritize the health and safety of our neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has only further highlighted equity issues, both nationally and locally. COVID-19 has had a much greater impact on poorer communities than more affluent ones. In Monterey County, we know that there are some students who have not had the same learning opportunities as others because of circumstances beyond their control. We know that language barriers have made it difficult to reach some of our families. We know that there are families facing housing and food insecurity.

I also want to make clear something we know, but do not always explicitly say: issues of equity include issues of race. I have been incredibly saddened by the recent, and very public, deaths of two black men: Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Yet I know that while these stories have made the news, there are unreported injustices experienced by people of color every day, in every city in our nation. These injustices have plagued our nation for too long.

We each have a responsibility to act and a unique role to play to combat the tragedies that have unfolded, most recently in Minnesota and Georgia. This is a call to action to educate friends, neighbors, colleagues and our children how to peacefully voice our outrage regarding injustice, and demand respect for every human being regardless of race, ethnicity, and economic status. It is important to remember our children seek to understand these events, and as adults, we must teach them to peacefully speak up against injustice, racism and inequity.

I encourage everyone to read the moving and powerful words shared today by our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond. He and the California Department of Education will be, “launching a series of discussions that will include superintendents and educational leaders from across California, students, teachers, school support staff, parents, and caregivers.” Thurmond also intends to, “convene stakeholders in discussions of implicit bias beyond schools to include leaders of statewide and national law enforcement organizations, elected officials, civic community leaders, and more.”

As Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, I and our organization, the Monterey County Office of Education publicly denounce these actions of hatred and violence. We are deeply saddened for the families who have been destroyed and the loved ones lost. Communities must come together to make meaningful changes to our systems which create and perpetuate racism in all levels of society.

Now is the time that we all should join together to do our part. The first step we can take is to educate and raise our voices on behalf of our children. How can we all make a difference to halt racism and injustice? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Speak up when you are witness to an injustice or some form of racism.

  2. Talk to your children with compassion.

  3. Read together as a family to support conversations on race and racism.

  4. Educate yourself through the eyes of those most impacted.

Today, I call on our parents, educators, leaders, and all community members to begin meaningful and impactful dialogues on racism and implicit bias in our schools and in our communities. We must move forward from this moment in unity and focus on bringing about true and sustained changes to our long-standing systems of inequity.

Dr. Deneen Guss
Monterey County Superintendent of Schools


Image of Resolution to Fight Racism; Click to read.

Contacts

Dr. Deneen Guss

County Superintendent
superintendent@montereycoe.org
Phone: 831.755.0301

Carla Strobridge Stewart

Assistant to the County Superintendent
cstewart@montereycoe.org
Phone: 831.784.4244

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