In a guest essay published in the Evanston Roundtable yesterday, D65 Stands Against Racism and Hate, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren responded to recent incidents that have taken place in District 65 schools.
"While our commitment to racial and educational equity is widely known, I would like to take this opportunity to, once again, state that hate has no home and will never be welcome in District 65," Dr. Goren wrote.
This coming Monday, December 17, at 7 p.m., in response to the incidents that Dr. Goren referenced, the District 65 School Board will discuss anti-racist schools.
The meeting will take place at JEH, 1500 McDaniel.
School Board Vice President Anya Wiley Tanyavutti called for this conversation, she says, to discuss how our schools are actively declaring themselves and their values to be anti-racist to children and families.
"If they are not, what are we saying to the children of color and their families about how we value their emotional and physical safety?" she asks.
"What affirming and expansive racial messaging are children receiving about the extensive contributions and deep value that Black people brought and continue to bring to the world, our community, and our schools to counter any efforts of dehumanization?"
The community is invited to attend the school board meeting and you can sign up to speak before 7 p.m. on Monday.
Heather Heuman Sweeney, a member of The "Next Steps: Parenting in Our Racially Diverse Community" planning committee, encourages parents to attend.
"Your presence and voice are important in supporting Evanston schools to act on their values," she says.
"You're encouraged to speak during public comment, but your presence also provides a message of support."
In an email, Sweeney explains the concept of an anti-racist school:
What is an anti-racist school?
One way to think about it is a school that:
Acknowledges historical and present-day racism;
Systematically confronts racist incidents;
Overtly values past and present Black and brown people for who they are and their contributions in our schools, community, and society;
Understands that inequity is due to systems so centers the needs of POC as a way of righting historic wrongs.
This can mean:
The application of a tool that helps us to form policies and practices that are racially equitable;
Education and support for decision makers (admin, teachers, parents, and children);
A curriculum that centers the historically oppressed and does not center whiteness;
Rules are enforced with minimal bias;
Enrichment opportunities are accessed by all children;
All children have a neighborhood school;
More teachers of color;
The voices of those who have been historically oppressed have at least as much weight as white parents and staff;
A model for seeking justice so when our children experience or witness injustice, they know what they're seeing, they don't hesitate, and they take action.
If you can't attend the meeting, you will be able to watch the discussion online here.
Read more about anti-racism in this article by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, This is what an antiracist America would look like. How do we get there?