Santa Rosa, CA – February 7, 2018 – In 2016, the Junior Commission on Human Rights conducted a peer to peer online survey of Sonoma County High Schools to assess the state of racial discrimination and inequality among students, as well as measure the level of response to incidents by teachers and administrators. The anonymous survey was designed to allow students an opportunity to voice their experiences, opinions, and concerns in an environment where they felt safe and would be listened to.
The Racial Equality and Justice Committee of the Commission, an advocacy group made up of Sonoma County high school students, created the survey in 2016 after learning about the rise of racial discrimination at schools as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In The Trump Effect report, 90% of 10,000 surveyed teachers reported a negative impact on school climate and 80% reported increased anxiety and fear in students. As students themselves, the Junior Commissioners have witnessed first-hand the impact of racial discrimination in schools, which should always be places dedicated to learning and the safety of students.
Unfortunately, data shows that incidences of racial discrimination had been on the rise during the 2016 election cycle and has skyrocketed since the beginning of the Trump administration. Based on this, and reports of racial harassment and civil rights violations at Analy High School in the West County Unified School District, the committee felt a countywide general survey of students should be conducted to measure school climate around racial harassment and discrimination.
The Junior Commission compiled the data from the 2016 survey into a full report, presentation, and series of recommendations that they seek to present to high school principals, school districts, and school boards, in hopes of improving the climate of schools for students. The full report and presentation can be found here:
Report and Recommendations
Survey Results Presentation
Committee member Tara Sullivan says, “We hoped this survey would give Sonoma County students an opportunity to voice their experiences and feel safe doing so, because the online survey was anonymous. For too long, students and administrators have kept silent about racial discrimination, or haven’t properly addressed the problems in their schools. Now, more than ever, is the time to start talking about it and take action.”
The Junior Commission on Human Rights is a project of the Commission on Human Rights, an appointed advisory board to the County Board of Supervisors. The Junior Commission is intended to provide high school aged youth with the opportunity to participate in advocacy, take an active role in County government, provide education about human rights issues that impact their lives, and empower youth to make a positive impact on their communities. For more information about the Junior Commission, visit the Commission's website at www.sonomacountychr.org or follow us on Facebook.