On Thursday, January 14, the San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee and Board of Education President Hector Camacho, Jr. released the following statement in light of current events at the Capitol.
Dear Members of San Mateo County’s Education Community,
The devastating impact and gravity of the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol, on members of Congress, including the Vice President, and ultimately on our American democracy, both horrifies and haunts us.
As the San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools and the President of the San Mateo County Board of Education, we condemn the actions of these rioters who unleashed mayhem and violence at the Capitol with the expressed intent to interrupt the certification of our national election results as well. We also condemn the actions of the President of the United States for inciting the protesters to violence.
This attack not only endangered our elected lawmakers, their staff, and members of the press, it also caused ongoing and further harm to our children and young adults who have once again witnessed a challenge to the American ideals they have been taught to revere and protect. Like all of us, our young people witnessed an insurrection, driven by blatant hatred and racism, that demonstrated complete disregard for our democratic processes and the peaceful transfer of power that has characterized our nation’s governmental system for more than three hundred years.
After their act of terrorism, most of the rioters at the Capitol simply walked away. The contrast between a negligible show of force by police against the rioters at the Capitol and the seemingly uncountable riot police readied during Black Lives Matter protests this past summer is stark. It makes last week’s attack all the more sobering and reminds us that justice is not equally applied in our country.
As education leaders, we must boldly step forward into the work of anti-racism while also strengthening civics education. We must create inclusive classrooms and school communities, talk with our youth about the inequitable systems in the United States, and empower them to become agents of change.
This work starts locally, as we individually and collectively heal from this harm. Our efforts cannot change what has happened, but we can shape how we move forward and continue to work for justice. We are proud to work with Niambi Clay, the San Mateo County Office of Education’s (SMCOE) new Executive Director for Equity, Social Justice, and Inclusion, who will help lead efforts to increase our organization-wide commitment and alignment to SMCOE’s anti-racist paradigm and provide leadership that works to dismantle educational inequities.
We continue to lead a Civics Initiative focused on empowering the youth of our county to become thoughtful global citizens who take action to benefit their community. You can find SMCOE’s online resources around anti-racism here and a newly curated set of resources focused on civics education here.
At this transitional moment, as we reflect on the impact of this horrific event, we must also work together to address the systemic issues that created the conditions for such an event to take place. As education leaders, we will ensure that schools are at the forefront of this work. We invite you to join us in these efforts.