SF school board abolishes Asian segregation rule, 110 years later

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    SF school board abolishes Asian segregation rule, 110 years later

    SAN FRANCISCO – After 110 years, the San Francisco Board of Education on Jan. 24 formally struck down a long-overlooked board resolution dating back to 1906 that excluded children of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean ancestry from “normal schools” and restricted them to an “Oriental School.”

    “The 1906 board resolution reflected an extremely racist time when the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League vilified Asians and anti-Chinese sentiment reached new heights,” said Commissioner Emily Murase, who co-authored the resolution.

    Murase is the first Japanese American to serve on the school board. Commissioner Stevon Cook, the newest member of the school board, co-authored the resolution with Murase and all BOE commissioners asked to signed on.

    Segregated schools

    In its early history, district actions led to landmark school discrimination cases, including the 1885 California Supreme Court Case, Tape v. Hurley, in which the parents of eight year-old American-born Mamie Tape successfully challenged the principal’s refusal to enroll Mamie and other Chinese children at Spring Valley School. The Tape case determined that all children, including immigrants, were entitled to public education.

    However, in the same year the Tape case was decided, the California State Assembly enacted Bill 268 that authorized school districts to assign children of “Mongolian” descent to segregated schools. This gave rise to the “Oriental School” in San Francisco.

    When the school board adopted the resolution in October 1906 authorizing the removal of Japanese students from normal schools for placement in the “Oriental School,” it violated the 1894 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, which established a non-discrimination policy for Japanese immigrants in the U.S.


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