The Caesar Rodney School District must adopt specific, antiracist educational policies
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The latest stream of tragic violence by police against BIPOC as well as generalized harassment is not evidence of a phenomenon distinct or separate from the United States' legacy of state-sanctioned violence through hundreds of years of slavery, segregation, and other forms of oppression. The time is come, and indeed is overdue, for ALL Americans to speak out and stand up against these crimes.
The superintendent of the Caesar Rodney School District, Kevin Fitzgerald, responded to these recent events by releasing a short message that promised vague "help and support" and added that it was "critical and essential that every person...feels safe, valued, and respected". While these are well-intentioned wishes, they do little to fight the problem.
For this reason, we have come up with a series of ways that the Caesar Rodney School District can reevaluate its policies to take action against the violence and oppression of BIPOC citizens. Listed below is the letter that we have drafted. If you agree with these demands and would like to see our local school district take tangible steps towards improvement, please sign your name in solidarity. Thank you!
"Dear Caesar Rodney School District,
We as a community believe that you should be doing more in response to the recent stream of acts of violence against people of color, specifically black Americans. Unfortunately, these events are neither novel nor exceptional; state-sanctioned violence against BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) citizens is ingrained into the fabric of our society due to hundreds of years of slavery, segregation, and other forms of oppression. Our time to come together as a community and stand up against this violence is overdue: we can no longer stay silent. We also can no longer send vague wishes of “help and support”: to enact long needed change within our community, we will have to fundamentally reexamine our existing structures to be actively anti-racist. That is, to be active in the fight against senseless police violence directed against BIPOC citizens, against the school-to-prison pipeline, against the innumerous aspects of our society that serve to disproportionately harm people of color.
In responding to this change, we demand that the Caesar Rodney School District reevaluate its policies in the following ways:
A) The Caesar Rodney School District must reevaluate its curriculum. While racism and anti-blackness exists in every field of academic study, it is perhaps most obvious in the humanities, specifically English and Social Studies. Determining whose stories get told and whose stories are silenced is a political act. By reevaluating the curriculum, the CR school district can be actively anti-racist in choosing to represent the viewpoints of a diverse range of people, but especially African Americans and Black Americans. We ask that these curriculum changes be a collaborative, transparent community effort. For your reference, we have attached a reading list* of some works of literature that could be used in English courses, from Kindergarten to 12th grade, to further this aforementioned cause.
B) The Caesar Rodney School District must provide concrete resources for students. It is important that BIPOC students’ specific needs are met, in both bad times and good. One resource that can be provided to all students in these difficult times, but especially to students of color, is the contact information and availability of guidance counselors. We also request that faculty be provided with diversity training that empowers them to respond to students who do not feel comfortable in their classrooms or want information on how to be a good ally. While we can provide suggestions as to what resources should be provided, we also would like to emphasize that the decision to provide certain resources should be based on community needs. In response to making this decision, we request that the decision of which resources to allocate and provide for student use also be a collaborative, transparent community effort.
C) The Caesar Rodney School District must make a commitment to hiring more BIPOC educators. It is important that students of color see people that look like them teaching their classes. Although we understand that COVID-19 has brought financial pressure to school districts, we would like to see how Caesar Rodney will plan to attract more BIPOC educators to work in their schools. This could include, for example, increased teacher recruitment at local HBCUs like Delaware State University or HBCUs in the D.C. area like Howard University. Additionally, we believe that high school students should be exposed to HBCUs: in this vein, we ask that Caesar Rodney provide an HBCU college fair to promote these spaces. In any case, we expect to see a specific commitment in terms of a percentage increase of BIPOC faculty in all levels.
We look forward to hearing a response from the Caesar Rodney School District specifying how they will be acting to support and empower all students, but especially our BIPOC students who face specific challenges. Please be aware that in the lack of a satisfactory response, we will continue to advocate for the allocation of resources to antiracist educational policies in the Caesar Rodney School District.
The Caesar Rodney community
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