Published April 12, 2022
Stand Up to Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward’s Inflammatory Bigotry Against Chinese Americans and Merit
Dear San Dieguito parents, community members and concerned citizens,
On this Monday, April 11, 2022, the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) hosted a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training program, in which the new superintendent Dr. Cheryl James-Ward gave some blatant remarks smearing the district's Asian-American students. Dr. Ward's comments were deeply offensive, grossly inaccurate and intentionally divisive, which ill-fits her leadership role in a major school district. In the spirit of resolving misunderstanding and disagreements, we at the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER) kindly ask that you engage with the Superintendent and the SDUHSD Board to express your concerns and opposition to Dr. Ward's inflammatory bigotry.
During the training session, Dr. Ward attempted to answer a question on Asian-Americans students' high performance in the school district with the line of reasoning that these students do well because they come from wealthy, first-generation Chinese-American families. She argued: "people who're able to make the journey to America are wealthy." To further drill down her wealth resulting in high performance thesis, Dr. Ward then recounted the phenomenon of more immigrants settling down in the district: "a large influx of Chinese families move in, sight unseen, into our homes, our community... the whole family comes, grandparents and parents and the grandparents are there to support kids at home." She then proceeded to contrast the wealth gap with over-simplifying stereotypes: "whereas, our Latinx families don't have that type of money, parents are working two jobs from sunup to sundown."
Dr. Ward's observations on the academic achievement gap can't be further from the truth and dismiss important sociocultural factors in accounting for discrepancies in academic performance. In reality, the overall high performance of students of Asian descent is not unique to San Dieguito, nor is it correlated with wealth. For example, in California, among all 8th graders who are economically disadvantaged, 57% of Asian Americans, 31% of whites, 21% of Latinos, 17% of American Indians, and 12% of blacks were able to acquire math proficiency. Among all economically disadvantaged 3rd graders, 55.53% of Asian Americans, 44.74% of whites, 34.3% of Latinos, 28.71% of Latinos, and 26.3% of blacks could achieve reading proficiency. In New York City and San Francisco, low-income Asian students also outperform their peers in public schools, not because their alleged wealth, but because they embrace the fundamentally American ideal of merit.
Not only did Dr. Ward's comments demonstrate crude racial stereotypes, they also expose the anti-merit and anti-equal-opportunity core of critical race theory, as the training's ideological foundation, and the diversity dogma. We urge you to stand up to bigotry by utilizing the following channels to voice your objection:
1. Attend the "Townhall with Dr. Ward and Trustee Mossy" on this Thursday, April 14 from 5:00 -- 6:30 p.m. at Oak Crest Middle School. The event will be open to the public and will be held in-person. Use the Q&A session to ask Dr. Ward to clarify her positions on merit, academic achievement and community building. Please make sure your comments and questions are conducted in a civil manner. (canceled)
2. Reach out to your board trustee via email with your opposition to Dr. Ward's divisive and bigoted narrative. Let your representative know that race-/ and ethnicity-based pandering has no place in education policy making.
Thank you in advance for supporting this much-needed action!
About Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER):We are a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and raise public awareness on the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop. 209 requires that “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment.