In and email update (also available on their webpage), Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth celebrates the recent changes in the CCSF placement testing policies. In addition to highlighting the reforms and the positive impact they will have, Coleman gives props to the “dedication, courage, and brilliance” of the students who fought for them. They also laud the work and support of the CCSF math and English departments, along with Turstee Steve Ngo and retiring Chancellor Don Griffin.
Unfortunately, Coleman also noted disrespectful behavior by CCSF faculty toward students at the Board of Trustees meeting where the policy changes were adopted. During their decades of working and organizing in San Francisco, Colman has never “witnessed this level of disrespect and shameful behavior, and from the very teachers whose classes these students attend. It was a heartbreaking reminder of the institutionalized racism and pervasive low expectations that exist for students of color at City College.”
That institutional racism exists at CCSF is sad, but not surprising. Given the racism that is still very much alive in our national culture, we cannot expect, even in liberal San Francisco, to be free from it. However, we do have the obligation to root it out when we see its trail. And when we saw that placement test have questionable validity, that students of color place lower than white students, and that students of color then take longer to graduate and transfer (if indeed they do), then we saw that changes needed to be made and the community, represented by Coleman, agreed.
Hopefully, the community perspective will help temper disrespectful behavior toward students in the future. More importantly, I see the placement test changes as a step toward undoing institutionalized racism and raising expectations for all our students.