A Statement of Unity in Support of Principal Garraway
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As parents of children who attend PS 118, we are more disturbed by the presence of racism in our school community than any outsider is. We are not naive in our belief that ‘racism doesn’t happen here’. We know that racism is a system. We know that we live in a country built on a foundation of racism, and we know that this history lingers in many of its institutions. Including school. Including our school.
In this community, we are lucky to have a principal who understands this. Principal Elizabeth Garraway has been an essential leader in this community and for this moment.
We want to be clear about one thing: we love our school and we stand by Principal Garraway.
NYC public schools are tragically and shamefully segregated. Elizabeth Garraway knows this. She has intentionally worked to build a public school that is diverse across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. Not only has Principal Garraway created a space where diverse peoples are present, she created a space where all are included and valued.
Joyful learning is the norm in PS 118 classrooms. In an interview last year, Principal Garraway stated for the public what anyone with a student here has known to be true since the very first day of school here -- “The school culture is: kindness matters, the social-emotional piece matters, diversity in its many forms matters, respect matters. Joy is our No. 1 [priority]. When people talk about the feeling of the kids at 118, they talk about how joyful they are. Our kids dance in the lunchroom.”
In the face of increasing neighborhood class stratification, high-stakes testing, and even as we navigate the painful fallout from this destructive Facebook post, Principal Garraway’s ethos of inclusion and joy is not something we take for granted. We, the undersigned, acknowledge this.
We also understand that gentrification and zoning lead to schools that are segregated along lines of class and race. Thanks to Principal Garraway’s steadfast dedication, PS 118 is diverse, vibrant and intentionally designed to foster community. This means that we are openly talking about racism. This work can be painful, uncomfortable, and upsetting, but we have embraced this because it is necessary.
Elizabeth Garraway is courageously committed to being the change that she wishes to see in the world and to creating the world we want our children to live in. So are we. We stand together and with Principal Garraway on the side of bold candor, hard work and fierce hope.
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