SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California’s education chief Tony Thurmond announced plans Monday to lead a new effort focusing on racism in state schools during emotional remarks on George Floyd, whose killing he said has left him struggling to answer his own children who asked, “Why did this happen?”

Thurmond is the only elected government official in California who is African American.

“Now is the time to address racism and implicit bias in education,” Thurmond said, blinking back tears during a livestream Monday. “We must not let this moment go unnoticed.”

Thurmond said that he has already reached out to state superintendents around the country and will be initiating conversations with California school superintendents, educational leaders, parents and students but also go beyond the educational sphere and work with elected officials, police chiefs and government agencies.

The conversations will focus on how schools can provide more training for staff and students on implicit bias, building empathy and tolerance. They will also examine legislation and inequalities in California schools, where black and brown students are more likely to be suspended, pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system, he said.

Thurmond said he appreciated protesters raising their voices but urged them to demonstrate peacefully.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.

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