Our recommitment to practicing racial equity

As we launch into the new year and Black History Month, the CDE Foundation stands firmly in its commitment to putting equity into practice. Since we wrote our Racial Equity Statement in June of 2020, we’ve made strides toward practicing the essential work of dismantling persistent systems of oppression in our education system. We promised to share more about how we are taking steps to address these institutional barriers and structural racism. 

On this page, you can find a variety of content to explore and leaders to learn from. Below you will find a partial list of actions we’ve taken over the last seven months to continue addressing racial inequities within education in California. The CDE Foundation understands that racial equity work requires a steadfast commitment to current and future generations of learners and leaders, and we are up for the task.


We are administering over $1 million in grants that support new racial justice initiatives at the California Department of Education, which will support capacity-building within school districts to assess and address implicit bias.


Our Board has developed a new Recruitment Committee whose main focus is further diversification of the CDEF Board, especially Black members.


Our team is currently working with consultants to develop internal trainings focused on mindsets and practices that center racial justice and equity within our organization and throughout our programs and partnerships. 


Our team is collaborating to build shared content that is aware and celebratory of the Black experience in America for Black History Month. This is the first of many more proactive recognitions of the diverse and essential identities of Americans. 


Each of our program areas has grown its exploration of equity practices. Read more on our website about how our team is continuing to strengthen our equity work. 

  • The Year Two Teacher Residency Lab focus is Advancing Equity – Recruiting, Retaining, and Supporting Educators of Color, which guides all Lab content and partnerships.
  • The 2020 CA STEAM Symposium was thrilled to welcome Heather McGhee in conversation with our own Dr. Jaquelyn Ollison. Their wide-ranging discussion underscored how racism negatively impacts each one of us and the power of learning environments to make change.
  • The CA Labor Management Initiative 2020 Virtual Summit Recap underscores the importance of centering equity in collaborative problem-solving and confronting the realities of COVID-19’s damaging acceleration of structural racism. 

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and his team at the California Department of Education have set forward a bold vision for public education, and we are honored to partner with them. Superintendent Thurmond’s vision and advocacy for equity is evident in a recent statement in response to Governor Newsom’s proposed 2021 education budget: “At a time when a global pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for our students, families, and educators, the weeks and months ahead represent the most important moment for public education in a lifetime. The investments we choose must help our schools urgently and immediately recover from this crisis and accelerate learning for the students and families hardest hit by a global pandemic that has deepened historic inequities. Our priorities should not only help our schools emerge safely from the impacts of COVID-19, but should immediately double down on our efforts to level the playing field for a generation of students.” 

In 2020, Superintendent Thurmond in collaboration with CDE Foundation and a number of private foundations, launched new racial justice initiatives with over $1 million in grants to support capacity-building within school districts to assess and address implicit bias. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Thurmond helped launch the CA Bridging the Digital Divide Fund, a joint effort of the Governor’s Office, State Board of Education, California Department of Education, and CDE Foundation which raised $18.3 million to provide essential devices, connectivity, and related digital learning supports for PK-12 students most in need, teachers, and their families. 

Whether the digital divide is caused by a lack of infrastructure in our rural and frontier communities or a lack of affordability in our cities, one thing is clear, every one of our students deserves the opportunity to learn and equitable access to computing devices and connectivity to do so. Superintendent Thurmond continues to advocate for equitable access through the creation of the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force, Co-Chaired with Senator Connie Leyva, to address the lack of connectivity in rural areas and lack of affordability for low-income families. Taskforce members include State Legislators representing communities across the state with the biggest gaps in connectivity. 

In addition, Superintendent Thurmond launched the CA Digital Divide Innovation Challenge that is an open, global competition that mobilizes inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and other innovators from public and private sectors to develop technology and strategic partnerships for universal affordable broadband internet access across the state. To truly close the digital divide, the solution must be a combination of the commitment of investment and policy changes at the state level and collaboration of public and private partnerships. We applaud him for his efforts on many new initiatives to address racial injustice and promote equity. 

Tony Thurmond was sworn in as the 28th California State Superintendent of Public Instruction on January 7, 2019. Superintendent Thurmond is an educator, social worker, and public school parent, who has served the people of California for more than ten years in elected office. Previously, Superintendent Thurmond served on the Richmond City Council, West Contra Costa Unified School Board, and in the California State Assembly, representing District 15.

Like many of California’s public school students, Superintendent Thurmond came from humble beginnings. His mother was an immigrant from Panama who came to San Jose, California, to be a teacher. His father was a soldier who didn’t return to his family after the Vietnam War. Superintendent Thurmond met him for the first time when he was an adult. After Superintendent Thurmond’s mother died when he was 6, he and his brother were raised by a cousin who they had never met.

Superintendent Thurmond’s family relied on public assistance programs and great public schools to get out of poverty. Superintendent Thurmond’s public school education allowed him to attend Temple University, where he became student body president. He went on to earn dual master’s degrees in Law and Social Policy and Social Work (MSW) from Bryn Mawr College and began a career dedicated to service.

Much of Superintendent Thurmond’s social service work has focused on improving the services provided to foster youth and directing programs that provide job training to at-risk youth. He also led programs to provide help for individuals with developmental disabilities. Tony has 12 years of direct experience in education, teaching life skills classes, after-school programs, and career training.

Superintendent Thurmond served on the Richmond City Council from 2005-2008. While on the council he served as Liaison to Richmond’s Youth Commission and Workforce Investment Board and the Council Liaison to the West Contra Costa Unified School District. He was chair of Richmond’s 2005 Summer Youth Program which employed 200 local teens.

Superintendent Thurmond served from 2008-2012 on the West Contra Costa School Board, where he coordinated a plan to keep schools open during the 2008 recession. Superintendent Thurmond helped restore fiscal solvency and local control to the School Board while supporting campaigns to put millions of dollars toward preserving counseling, after-school, music, and athletic programs. Under Superintendent Thurmond’s leadership, the School Board rebuilt dozens of schools to provide state-of-the-art student learning facilities.

Superintendent Thurmond funded programs to help students learn about and apply to top universities. He also led efforts to expand drug and alcohol treatment services for youth, and to bring nutrition and wellness programs to schools. Additionally, Superintendent Thurmond spearheaded a campaign that reduced school suspensions by 27%.

In the State Assembly, Superintendent Thurmond served on the Assembly Education, Health, and Human Services Committees. He chaired the Assembly Labor Committee and the Assembly Select Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education.

Education is at the core of Superintendent Thurmond’s legislative record. He authored legislation that successfully expanded the free lunch program, bilingual education, and the Chafee Grant college scholarship program for foster youth. Additionally, Superintendent Thurmond’s legislation guaranteed preferential voting rights for student school board members, improved access to families for early education and childcare, and shifted millions of dollars directly from prisons to schools. Superintendent Thurmond introduced legislation to expand STEM education, improve school conditions for LGBTQ youth, and tax private prisons to fund early education and afterschool programs.

In recognition of his social service leadership, Superintendent Thurmond has been a Fellow in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship program.

Superintendent Thurmond lives in Richmond with his two daughters who attend local public schools. They are his inspiration and a constant reminder about the promise of our neighborhood schools and the strong future that every child deserves.

We at CDE Foundation are grateful to Linda Darling-Hammond for her leadership as the president of the State Board of Education, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a partner for the CA Bridging the Digital Divide Fund formed between the California Department of Education, Governor’s Office, State Board of Education and the CDE Foundation, she helped facilitate donations from major funders during this public education crisis. 

Linda Darling-Hammond is a leading figure in California education policy and currently serves as president of the state Board of Education that is California’s K-12 policy-making body for academic standards, curriculum, instructional materials, assessments and accountability. She was tapped by President Joe Biden to lead the education transition team, which she also headed for the incoming Obama administration in 2008. She is renowned for her research and advocacy in support of teacher preparation, professional development and efforts to retain teachers in the profession.

Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and founding president of the Learning Policy Institute, created to provide high-quality research for policies that enable equitably and empowering education for each and every child.  At Stanford, she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program, which she helped to redesign.

Darling-Hammond is past president of the American Educational Research Association and recipient of its awards for Distinguished Contributions to Research, Lifetime Achievement, and Research-to-Policy. She is also a member of the American Association of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Education. From 1994–2001, she was executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, whose 1996 report What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future was named one of the most influential reports affecting U.S. education in that decade. In 2006, Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy. In 2008, she served as the leader of President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team.

Darling-Hammond began her career as a public school teacher and co-founded both a preschool and a public high school. She served as Director of the RAND Corporation’s education program and as an endowed professor at Columbia University, Teachers College. She has consulted widely with federal, state and local officials and educators on strategies for improving education policies and practices. Among her more than 500 publications are a number of award-winning books, including The Right to Learn, Teaching as the Learning Profession, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World and The Flat World and Education. She received an Ed.D. from Temple University (with highest distinction) and a B.A. from Yale University (magna cum laude).

The CDE Foundation is grateful to LaKenya Jordan for her leadership and partnership through the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. She recently kicked off the 2020 California STEAM Symposium with a fireside chat hosting Ibtihaj Muhammad, focusing on inclusion and being more welcoming of young women in the STEAM fields. 

LaKenya M. Jordan was appointed Executive Director of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls in May of 2020. Her work at the Commission centered on leading programs and initiatives designed to empower and uplift the women and girls of California while leading the way in establishing a distinctive focus on equity, equality, and inspiration for future generations. Her work includes programs focused on advancing women’s equality, pay equity, women’s wellbeing, workplace rights, positive images of women and girls in the media, and increasing the number of girls engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (S.T.E.A.M.).

She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Commission, having served as Director of Legislation and Governmental Affairs at the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and the Assistant Director of Legislation for the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH) where for over several years she advised the Governor’s Office and Secretary of BCSH on nearly 400 pieces of legislation annually.

Under the Schwarzenegger Administration, Mrs. Jordan served on the California Recovery Task Force, helping to usher in over $80 billion to aid the state in its economic recovery. Mrs. Jordan is also the former Special Assistant to the Chief Deputy Director at the California Department of General Services. She has extensive experience in leading change across multiple industry sectors, working with small businesses, developing public-private partnerships, and establishing statewide policy and programs.

Her track record in public service matches her 15 years of private sector experience in business development, banking, and finance. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Organizational Management from St. Mary’s College and a Master of Public Health from Touro University. She is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum, a graduate of the Leadership California Issues and Trends program, and an active member of California Women Lead.

Director Jordan also received Congressional recognition for her community work with breast cancer survivors and Black Infant Health. Director Jordan is passionate about the uplift and empowerment of all women and keeps women’s wellbeing a priority in her leadership work in government and at the community level.

The STEAM Team at CDE Foundation seeks to collaborate with amazing STEAM-focused scholars who positively impact communities of California and beyond. This month specifically, we are highlighting Black Scholars focused on representation, identity, and diversity who are making history today. We invite you to join us in celebrating these individuals who represent excellence in STEAM fields!

The STEAM Team featured Dani on an Equitable Math Toolkit podcast a few months ago. We celebrate her deeply committed work on this new mathematics resource tool for California educators as well as her leadership role as Director of Mathematics education at Quetzal Education Consulting. As a master math teacher, she is focused on providing anti-racist solutions for equitable education and has helped close the gap in numeracy acquisition for many students of Color. She is an experienced West African dance teacher who uses the interconnectedness of rhythm, movement, and math in order to engage her students and help them own their math identities. 

“By engaging in intentional relationship and community building, I provide space for teachers to be authentic in their teaching identities and philosophies, thus laying the groundwork for effective development of critically conscious practitioners who teach for racial and social justice. Through asking mediative questions, providing immediately applicable and sustainable solutions, and developing reflective practice, I aim to cultivate critical educators who provide healing and liberatory education. “

Her contributions to the education field have helped thousands of teachers understand how best to work with African American students, Latinx students, Indigenous students, and other students of color.

Her groundbreaking work, culturally relevant pedagogy/teaching, helps all teachers recognize and honor the sanctity of each child’s culture while simultaneously using it “to empower students, intellectually, socially, emotionally and politically.”  It uses “ cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes” [1] Thank you for sharing your wisdom with all of us.

Professor, Author, Dreamer, Teacher, and Educator extraordinaire are all words that can be used to describe Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings. Born in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1947, she is an American pedagogical theorist and teacher educator. Ladson-Billings is known for her work in the fields of culturally relevant pedagogy and critical race theory. Ladson-Billings’ work, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, is a significant text in the field of education.

She was educated in the Philadelphia public school system. In the 1950s, when Gloria Ladson-Billings was a fifth grader at a segregated Philadelphia public school, her teacher broke with the school curriculum to regale her students with tales of accomplished black Americans who weren’t mentioned in textbooks. “One of us would stand sentinel at the classroom door, and she’d say, ‘If the principal comes, turn to page 127 in the U.S. history book [and pretend to be learning that],’” says Ladson-Billings, PhD ’84, and professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin at Madison School of Education.

From that experience as a ten-year-old, she grew to question not only how race and ethnicity were traditionally taught to young studentsm but also who was doing the teaching. In the 1990s, she became renowned for her groundbreaking research into what makes teachers of black students successful and for introducing the concept of culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), a way of engaging all learners who are outside the mainstream.[2]

Ladson-Billings served as president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in 2005-2006. During the 2005 AERA annual meeting in San Francisco, Ladson-Billings delivered her presidential address, “From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools”, in which she outlined what she called the “education debt”, highlighting the combination of historical, moral, socio-political, and economic factors that have disproportionately affected African-American, Latino, Asian, and other non-white students.[3]

Recommended reading

The Dream-Keepers: Successful teachers of African American Children By Gloria Ladson-Billings

[1] See Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children. John Wiley & Sons.

[2] See https://ed.stanford.edu/about/community/gloria-ladson-billings

[3] See https://www.howold.co/person/gloria-ladson-billings/biography

We have chosen to honor Dr. Claude M. Steele because his groundbreaking work has many implications for people who have ever been marginalized or stereotyped because of their race, or gender, or sexual orientation, and so on. It has even more remarkable implications for teaching.

Claude M. Steele is an American social psychologist and a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. He holds B.A. in Psychology from Hiram College, an M.A. in Social Psychology from Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and Statistical Psychology from Ohio State University.

He currently serves as a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and as a Fellow for both the American Institutes for Research and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Professor Steele holds Honorary Doctorates from Yale University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, DePaul University and Claremont Graduate University.

He is best known for his work on stereotype threat and its application to minority student academic performance.

Stereotype threat refers to the impact awareness of the stigma of negative stereotypes has on one’s performance. He found the effect of stereotype pressure  on intellectual performance was general. It didn’t happen just for women. It happened for at least two groups, women and blacks… this pressure was a contingency of these groups’ identities. And it is a contingency with a serious toll—impaired performance on the kind of test on which one’s opportunities can depend. This contingency was powerful enough to affect the test performance of the strongest students in these groups, those with the fewest academic and motivational problems (p. 52).[1]

Essentially, by virtue of who we are as a people, we may experience pressure in ways that impact our ability to thrive academically or in other situations that are meant to judge ability.

To alleviate thi, we need to release the pressure. For example, when taking tests do not emphasize that it is diagnostic of ability in any way.  Specifically, Dr. Steele found that, “Black students performed dramatically worse than equally skilled white students when the test was presented as an ability test, when they were at risk of confirming the negative ability stereotype about their group; but they performed just as well as equally skilled whites when the test was presented as nondiagnostic of intellectual ability, when they were at no risk of confirming the ability stereotype (p. 56).”[2]

His earlier work dealt with research on the self (e.g., self-image, self- affirmation) as well as the role of self-regulation in addictive behaviors. In 2010, he released his book, Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, summarizing years of research on stereotype threat and the underperformance of minority students in higher education.

We have chosen to honor Dr. Claude M. Steele because of his groundbreaking work has many implications for people who have ever been marginalized or stereotyped because of their race, or gender, or sexual orientation, and so on. It has even more remarkable implications for teaching.

 Recommended Reading

 Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, By Claude M. Steele

[1] Steele, Claude. Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Time) (p. 52). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

[2] Steele, Claude. Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Time) (p. 56). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

CTA President E. Toby Boyd is in his first term of office beginning June 26, 2019 through June 25, 2021. His background includes a host of leadership and advocacy roles during a 25-year teaching career in the Elk Grove Unified School District. He has been elected CTA president after two terms as CTA District E Governing Board member.

In that capacity, Boyd represented most of the CTA members in the counties of Sacramento and San Joaquin. He was involved with an educational program in Elk Grove Unified that assists under-represented children in a program called MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement). He held the positions of MESA advisor and elementary coordinator for Elk Grove and served as the liaison between the school district and the universities involved with the program. 

As a strong site representative for the Elk Grove Educators Association, he gained the respect of his peers and was appointed as a bargaining team member. He served as a delegate to the CTA State Council of Education, the union’s top governing body. At State Council, Boyd served on the Early Child Education Committee, where he was appointed the chair of the kindergarten subcommittee. He also held the position of member/minority-at-large on the CTA Association for a Better Citizenship Committee. Boyd is a 12-time delegate to the National Education Association Representative Assembly. 

He was also involved with Preschool California, an organization seeking the implementation of universal access to preschool for all California’s children. Boyd served as a spokesperson for the group at several functions and represented the organization’s position on at least two state legislative panels. He was also appointed by former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass to the state’s California Early Learning Quality Improvement System Advisory Committee, where he was the vice-chair of the Data Systems for Program Improvement and Research/Evaluation subcommittee. Boyd also served on the California Transitional Kindergarten Professional Learning Steering Committee. 

He currently serves on The Governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery and is the Co-Chair of the new State Senate Subcommittee on Loss of Learning and Safe Recovery from the Disruption and Devastation caused by COVID-19.

Boyd is a graduate of California State University-Sacramento, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in bilingual/cross-cultural studies, and then earned his teaching credential from the Multi-Cultural/Multi-Lingual Center at the university.

Resources from CTA

Black Lives Matter

Racial & Social Justice Webinar Series, Racial Equity Affairs Committee

CAAASA was reorganized and renamed in 2007. When it was originally founded in 1993, it was called the California Association of African American Superintendents. The new leadership petitioned the organization to change its focus to include both superintendents and administrators allowing emerging leaders in administration the opportunity to better prepare for the superintendency or other high-level administrative assignments.

Today, its membership consists of African-American school superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors, and administrators. CAAASA has a history of hosting Institutes, state meetings, state conferences, and many special events since its inception. Serving as an informative link to California Department of Education (CDE), CAAASA makes recommendations on topics to include curriculum and instruction, staff development, parent involvement, funding and gender-specific issues. CAAASA has submitted testimony to the speaker of the Assembly which would improve the status of African-American males relative to their disproportionate representation in the penal system and in the Nation’s colleges and universities.

CAAASA has worked in partnership with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) by sponsoring events and programs that support increased student achievement and that proved to be successful in addressing the needs of African-American students. Under CAAASA’s leadership, the organization is working closely with new and proposed initiatives that impact the academic achievement of African American students including a most successful and recently sponsored statewide conference in Sacramento, “Education is a Civil Right.” 

Additionally, we have met with Executive Search Firms and other stakeholders to address the under representation of African-American Superintendents in California school districts. CAAASA will continue to collaborate with the California Department of Education (CDE) and other prominent organizations on projects and programs.

This summer, CAASA published “Advancing Equity in an Era of Crisis” virtual guide. In this guide, they examine how we can equitably meet the needs of all students in the 2020-21 school year.

This information emerges from the 29 webinars CAAASA held in Spring 2020 in conjunction with UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS), San Diego County Office of Education & California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), as well as education research on best practices for teaching and learning. They address key challenges that teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and parents will experience as schools reopen. They also provide strategies for successfully managing these challenges.

This guide pays particular attention to the digital divide, and provides strategies for ensuring equitable access to remote learning. They encourage parents, teachers, paraprofessionals and school administrators to use this resource as a tool to help support  all students. Please read the full report.