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'That Gave Me Hope': LAUSD Students Reflect On Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court Confirmation

Four students sit at long tables lined with black tablecloths and gaze toward a screen that's out of frame behind the photographer. They have serious expressions on their faces. A television news camera points over the photographer's head in the direction of the screen.
Students at Panorama High School in the east San Fernando Valley participate in a roundtable discussion about the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Kyle Stokes
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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s history-making confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court has personal meaning for many L.A. public school students.

Brown Jackson "gave me hope," said Stephanie White, a 17-year-old senior at Panorama High School, and a member of the school's Black Student Union.

White was one of several students who shared her reflections during a panel discussion that L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho convened on Friday — one day after the U.S. Senate voted 53-47 to elevate Brown Jackson to the High Court.

“But I also feel, deep inside," White added, "that [Brown Jackson] knows it’s more to be done and barriers to break.”

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Some students said they felt Brown Jackson’s confirmation also reflected how people of color often have to work much harder for the same outcomes. Senior Heaven Gershon, who’s Black, shared her dismay at the 6-vote margin of Brown Jackson's confirmation.

"For her to be way more qualified than the other justices on the Supreme Court," said Gershon, "is like, ‘Wow, she did all of that for 47 people to tell her no.’

Carvalho has a personal connection to Brown Jackson: she graduated from the public school system in Miami, where he began his educational career. Carvalho has met the incoming justice, and said he knew Brown Jackson's mother and father "very, very well" — her father, Johnny Brown, worked as an attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board.

Carvalho noted LAUSD already has a high school named for the court’s first Latina Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

“We need to move on and name a school after Judge Brown Jackson,” the superintendent said.

Carvalho told the panel of students he hopes to convince Brown Jackson to visit L.A — and a school renaming might help the district pull off that feat.

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).