Dear Auburn City Schools,
In response to the Open Letter to Auburn City Schools from Anti-Racist Families published June 24, 2020, a year later as Anti-Racist Educators we have heard your plea. We too as educators feel your pain and frustration with the inadequate response to the denial of the humanity of Black people and its educational inequities.
The elephant in the room is Auburn City Schools’ persistent problem with racial injustice. We recognize that it is not easy to discuss racial, ethnic and class dynamics in public forums. As a culture, we lack the study, practice and tools to guide productive and courageous conversations about our racial history and its legacy in terms of institutional practices and outcomes. But the district’s avoidance of this conversation is unacceptable. Students' futures are at stake.
The district as well as its board members must be ready to talk about race, hold each other accountable for the racial disparities in our schools and address policies that preserve racial inequities. Dismissing such is simply condoning and encouraging systemic practices that have gone on far too long.
Like the Anti-Racist Families of Auburn City Schools, we ask that Auburn City Schools makes a statement that:
- Articulates how Black students, families, teachers, faculty and staff matter in and to Auburn City Schools;
- Explains how ACS will reach out and listen to Black students, families, teachers, faculty and staff about what is happening in this moment and about their experiences with racial discrimination and inequities in Auburn City Schools;
- Demonstrates a commitment to decriminalizing school behavior, creating weapon-free schools and divesting in school policing, with reinvestment in services and resources that support the holistic development of young people in an equitable manner;
- Demonstrates commitment to required, ongoing professional development focused on anti-racist leadership, including examination of school discipline policies and practices; tracking practices that result in underrepresentation of Black students in Academically Gifted and Advanced Placement programming; and diagnostic mechanisms that lead to the overrepresentation of Black students as learning disabled/in need of special education;
- Demonstrates commitment to required, ongoing professional development for teachers focused on anti-racist teaching, including the development of culturally sustaining curricula and instruction;
- Demonstrates commitment to required, ongoing professional development for administrators focused on anti-racist leadership, including the development of non-biased culturally sustaining disciplinary plans that holistically fits the needs of all students, teachers, faculty and staff;
- Demonstrates commitment to an increase in hiring and supporting Black administrators, counselors, teachers, faculty and staff members;
- Demonstrates commitment to developing classes and clubs for students that include Black studies, African American History and empowerment platforms.
It is our hope that we will all learn from the past and move forward towards an inclusive future for all. A school culture that prizes equity, justice, transparency and accountability is one that creates intelligent, well-informed and courageous leaders of tomorrow.
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Anti-Racist Families, students, teachers, faculty and staff members, we thank you for representing us and all the long hours you put into ensuring that our young people have access to a high-quality, rigorous education. This past year has been one of many trials and tribulations and we see you and all your hard work. May this new school year be filled with blessings of good health, progress and hope.
We are only one group of people, but change starts with just one in the hopes of many more. We too look forward to a response from Auburn City Schools.
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