Support & Commitment to Bellefonte Area School’s Anti-Racism Policies & Procedures

Support & Commitment to Bellefonte Area School’s Anti-Racism Policies & Procedures

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Brittany Catherman started this petition to Bellefonte Area School Board

By signing the following, we, the undersigned are voluntarily, willingly, and publicly naming our support to help move the Bellefonte Area School District and School Committee to commit to anti-racist policies and practices.

Bellefonte Area Schools (BASD) as a part of the larger American public school system has long-standing and ubiquitous barriers to equity. This is a fact. Our schools--arguably all schools in the country--are harmful to many young people (many of our brown and black learners and their families) in ways we see through our own district-wide in ways we don’t necessarily see explicitly. We can no longer accept more of the same. We are positioned in a national narrative to take an anti-racist stance. We call for a commitment to the continuous and “necessary work” anti-racist policies and practices require.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi asserts being racist is not about who we are, but rather what we do in response to racist policies and practices. To collectively shift our district to intentionally become anti-racist, it will take deeply personal work & a commitment to that work, our students, and to one another. We are not saying we do not have some foundational work and experiences at the district and individual classroom levels. We are not saying that we don’t have good intentions, or that we don’t work hard for all students. What we are saying is we believe we need some commitments specific to anti-racism.

We assume with positive intentions that BASD is making plans for some (or maybe even all) of the layers we propose here, but we also feel you need to hear it from teachers and staff and students and families and community members, too, to underscore how many people in the district and community and beyond who have, want to, and will continue to push for this work to be done to disrupt systems of inequity. Though other American institutions need to do their work, this is about our schools, it is about this institution and what is in our realm of influence.

We believe our district has an opportunity and an obligation to bring together a group of people (including students, faculty, admin, parents, etc.) to develop a list of commitments like the following inspired by the Building Equity Bridges:

*a district-wide anti-racism statement with a common language for all district community members including concrete criteria for what anti-racism looks like in practice
*mandatory professional learning (like the bias training!) and clear articulation to staff and community of how all of the pieces of professional development that supports said anti-racist policy fit together and how this work drives toward equitable student outcomes
*a comprehensive review of all school-based policies and practices that are contributing to systemic racism (ie discipline, attendance, suspension, tardiness, etc)
*elevating and supporting youth voice and power including input and feedback in hiring, educator accountability, and school/district accountability
*a strategy for recruiting/hiring faculty and staff of color in our district
*a true restorative justice and culturally responsive approach to discipline
*a comprehensive and ongoing review of all school-committee, district, and school-based policies, practice, and curriculum against the anti-racist criteria
*an accountability plan for these commitments

We as a district have already started this work, and obviously it will never be complete--but it is time to commit. To be anti-racist does not mean to not care about all students--it means to listen to, work with and work for the youth (marginalized and allied) who deserve this commitment.


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