The racist acts we have seen throughout our country, our city and our community are abhorrent. We see and stand united against racist behavior. We will not tolerate behavior that diminishes the worth of others.
Education is key to understanding. We recognize our role and also our shortcomings. Much work still needs to be done to make sure every child, every family and every staff member truly feels a part of Millard. We stand ready to listen and take action.
Before beginning our committee meeting tonight, I want to take a moment to discuss the national and local events that have transpired over the course of the last couple of weeks.
First and foremost as a school district we do not and will not stand for discrimination against any group. We stand against racism. Foundational to our school district are our belief statements.
We believe diversity enriches life. There has never been a more important time to say that is what we believe than right now. We also have a district parameter that says we will not tolerate any behavior that diminishes the worth of another individual. Remember that a parameter is the rules we live by - all the time with no exception.
I will not speak to specific cases, but over the last couple of weeks we have seen racist comments and acts in our country. We have seen racist acts and comments in our community - some of them from students who attend our schools. As you would expect, we have investigated each case that touches the district, and worked with families and students. What we haven’t been able to do is to work with those that are offended and hurt by these actions. Tonight, I am addressing this in hopes that our black students and our other students of color understand that we will never stand for racism.
Our students come to us from diverse backgrounds, and we are accepting of all. We want every child to feel wanted and loved. We also want every child to receive the best education so that they can go forward with their life and live their dreams.
We are not perfect. Nobody is and we have work to do in this area. Making a statement is one thing, and committing to action is another. We know that when you bring 27,000 people together on a daily basis there will be conflict. Foundational to resolving conflict is our belief in justice for all. We are all entitled to live our best life free from racism, bigotry, and bullying.
Because what has occurred recently in our country, I need our black students and our other students of color to know that we love you, we care about you, we support you, and we want you to feel like Millard is home. This is your safe place.
There are six key points I want to make tonight around action that we will take as a school district.
- If you are experiencing or seeing discrimination in our schools report. We have well defined policies and procedures that can bring about solutions. Your principal, counselors and teachers are key to solving these problems. All people are entitled to a safe, caring, and respectful environment. We will once again be sharing these procedures with our community as we draw closer to school so that we make sure the reporting mechanism is set up to help and solve any potential problem.
- Moving forward we are developing a listening strategy so that we make sure we are hearing from our black students, and other students of color as well as other marginalized groups. Beginning this fall we will be creating a student diversity committee to meet with Dr. Phipps, Dr. Chick and myself. We will also be working with principals to create a feedback loop. We can’t solve what we don’t know, and we can’t assume. This will give us the information and data. We will listen.
- The social studies curriculum adoption begins phase 2 this year. We will use the information we gain from listening as well as emails that we have received during this time and make sure that information is shared with the curriculum planning committee.
- Dr Chick will be chairing the Metropolitan Omaha Education Consortium HR task force and will bring forward the topic of minority candidate recruiting. This is an issue for every school district. By bringing this to the table of MOEC we can strategize with other school districts and the university. Not only do we have a teacher shortage, we have a shortage of diversified candidates.
- Each staff member is trained in culturally responsive training. I have already asked our Leadership and Learning department to look at this material and begin an audit to make sure this training is the best it can be.
- Beginning over the next couple of weeks, we will begin to share resources with our staff.
As you know, we have been responding to a global pandemic. I do not want the fact that we haven’t been physically in school for the last three months to lead to any conclusions about our thoughts around these horrific events of the last couple of weeks. Tonight’s committee meeting focuses on where we are with plans to reopen schools as well as further discussion on the budget.
In July I will bring the outlines of a plan to the Board meeting so that the Board better knows what we are doing to respond to the current situation and guarantee to the best of our ability that all students feel a part of our district and know that it is a safe place.
We can all do better, and we have the key - education. We will move forward together.