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A message from the superintendent regarding equality

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. And too many more.

Before they were killed, and before their deaths rightfully became national news, they were once students.

I’ve worked in education my entire life and as I’ve read about their lives, I can’t help but think of them as the young people they once were – walking into a new school for the first time, discovering their favorite subject, trying to make friends in the lunchroom.

How were they treated? Was school a safe place for them? Did their teachers and the other students make them feel welcome?

Of course, I also can’t help but wonder if, right now, our district is ensuring our young Georges, Ahmauds, and Breonnas don’t face discrimination, bias, or inequity. Are we doing enough to wipe out hate? Not yet.

The protests around the country are forcing us all to ask deeper questions about what actions each of us must take to create a more just society. For a school district, those steps toward equality in the community begin with equity in our classrooms.

In Community Consolidated School District 89, I can commit to the following steps:

  • We will use the results from our equity audit to drive needed change. In September of 2019, CCSD 89 began a partnership with the DuPage County Regional Office of Education for a full equity audit of the district. The process involved speaking with staff, families, and students about how we can better serve learners of all backgrounds. That was followed by a complete evaluation of our data, policies, and practices. We will not shy away from any uncomfortable findings. We will use the results of this audit to create better learning experiences and environments for all students. For every young person, school should be a safe place to share your ideas and be yourself.
  • We will continue to engage our students in conversations around equality, bias, and privilege. We will continue to teach age-appropriate lessons about the ongoing struggle for human rights in the United States. We will challenge students to understand their role in promoting equality. This will not be a conversation relegated to certain months of the year; it will be blended throughout our curriculum. It will involve all our students and staff members.
  • We will increase the number of resources that celebrate everyone’s story. Students will continue to read about many people’s courageous struggles for equal rights. And, we will also provide stories and resources that show the everyday joys that are part of cultures around the world. Students need to see their lives represented in the stories they read and the work they create. We won’t aim to tolerate diversity; we will celebrate it.
  • We are committed to hiring educators from a wide range of backgrounds. Diversity is not a box to be checked. It is an integral asset in a district that desires to provide a full learning experience for our students. We will broaden our search for educators who can bring new perspectives to our classrooms.
  • We won’t stop learning. We will listen humbly to see where we are falling short. We will learn how to improve. We will have professional development for staff that specifically addresses anti-racism and equity. We want to be part of the solution for you and your family. Our staff will create opportunities to hear from you. For now, you can reach us at info@ccsd89.org to share ideas, suggestions, and concerns. 

These are just the first steps in our journey of learning for life. We have a long way to go.

I am committed to educating myself, our staff members, and our students on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion. As a public school system, we must ensure all of our students are seen, are respected, are educated, and are loved.  We will do more.  We will be better.  

Dr. Emily K. Tammaru

CCSD 89 Superintendent

  

Looking for resources to help explain these events to your children? Here are a few places to start:

How to talk your children about protests and racism (CNN)

Talking to children after racial incidents (University of Pennsylvania) 

A Kids Book About Racism (Author Jelani Memory)

Talking About Race (Smithsonian) 

These Books Can Help Explain You Explain Racism and Protest to Your Kids (The New York Times)

Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News (Child Mind Institute)

Teaching About Race, Racism, and Police Violence (Teaching Tolerance) 

Posted: June 5, 2020