Our Schools Are United Against Hate

Dear community member,

Hate has no place in society, and least of all on our school campuses. 

Alongside our school districts, the Santa Cruz COE rejects hatred, racism, prejudice, violence, and bullying in all forms. We are committed to ensuring our schools are safe and welcoming spaces for learners of all identities. 

Next week marks an opportunity to come together and reflect on this work. 

We are encouraging recognition of United Against Hate Week at all schools within our community from Sunday, November 13, through Saturday, November 19. This is a seven-day call for local civic action by people in every community to stop the hate and implicit biases that continue to impact too many members of our community. It is also an important opportunity to learn about ongoing efforts at schools and across our community, and to join in solidarity around a clear message: Hate has no place here.

United Against Hate Week emerged from the response of Berkeley and other East Bay civic leaders to a series of extremist demonstrations in 2017. They created the United Against Hate poster, and several dozen jurisdictions joined in solidarity — including a number of school districts, which have always had an important voice in this conversation. The week has since grown to include more than 200 communities and is continuing to expand. 

There are many ways to get involved. We are sharing a toolkit with activity ideas for elementary and secondary students, sample social media posts, and information about local and national events. We also are distributing copies of an anti-hate resource booklet developed by Santa Cruz County United for Safe and Inclusive Communities. You can pick up a free copy from the COE office at 400 Encinal Street, in Santa Cruz.

Sadly, acts of hatred appear to be on the rise. California saw a staggering uptick in hate crimes from 2020 to 2021, and Santa Cruz County was no different. Data compiled by the California Department of Justice shows hate-related offenses more than doubled in our county, from 16 in 2020 to 43 in 2021.

As educators, we understand that the misguided narratives propping up hatred and intolerance must be learned. Therefore, their continued presence in our society represents a sign of the work yet to be done. This is work to which we are firmly committed, which is why earlier this year we convened the Santa Cruz County Equity Council to continue to build our shared understanding of where inequities persist.

Over this next week, we invite you to participate in an activity, attend an event, and join us in our collective reflection on how to eliminate hatred and intolerance in all their forms. 

Learn more about how to get involved in United Against Hate Week at unitedagainsthateweek.org.

Yours in education and equity,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools