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Duval County Public Schools to offer unconscious bias training for families

Child's comment sparked the start of a special training program, which begins July 1

Tia Leathers Duval County Public Schools
Tia Leathers Duval County Public Schools (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a comment made by her daughter in second grade that moved Tia Leathers into action.

“Mommy, sometimes I wish daddy were white.”

This is the comment that Leathers said motivated her to launch a special training program focused on unconscious bias.

Leathers serves as executive director of family and community engagement for Duval County Public Schools and the comment was by her daughter in the second grade.

“I don’t want him to get hurt,” Leathers quoted her daughter in a letter to Duval County families.

Leathers said the comment broke her heart and caused her to contemplate various aspects of the state of racial tension in Duval County and the nation.

“Am I safe? Is my father, mother, brother, cousin in danger? Why is everyone so angry? Why does skin color matter so much?,” Leathers said in the letter.

“These are among the questions I know our children must have. How do we answer these? I know there are many families struggling like mine to answer these questions from our little ones and calm their anxiety, even as we work to struggle and acknowledge our own unconscious biases.”

Starting July 1, the school district’s Parent Academy will offer the first of 10 seminars focused on issues surrounding unconscious bias.

Each seminar is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. on the following days:

  • July 1 — What is Cultural Intelligence?
  • July 8 — What is Cultural Intelligence Drive and Cultural Intelligence Knowledge?
  • July 22 — Cultural Intelligence Strategy and Action
  • July 29 — Managing Bias with Cultural Intelligence
  • Aug. 5 — Seeing Unconscious Bias
  • Aug. 12 — Expanding Your Perspective
  • Aug. 19 — Disrupting Biased Systems and Practices
  • Aug. 26 — Creating an Action Plan
  • Sept. 2 — Improving Decision-Making
  • Sept. 9 — Hearing from Decision-Makers: A Panel Discussion

Anyone can register for the seminars through the school district’s website. The district asked participants to RSVP by Friday.