Promote Racial Justice Education Curriculum at Yorktown Central School District

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Lauren G
Lauren G signed this petition

Dear Dr. Hattar, Ms. O’Shea, and the Yorktown Central School District:

The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many others have sparked widespread awareness of the long-standing injustices against Black people in this country since 1619.

We are a group composed of Yorktown Central School District (YCSD) students, alumni, parents, and community members who believe that YCSD must fully confront the 400+ years of racial injustice and oppression enacted upon Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States. Yorktown students must graduate with a thorough understanding of the ingrained institutional and systemic racism that prevails in our country today. 

We applaud the strides that YCSD has made in confronting sensitive issues in recent years, such as the creation of the Husker Discovery program and the increased emphasis on teaching empathy and kindness to students. However, we believe that the district must devote more time and resources to specifically and directly address contemporary racial justice issues.

Therefore, we call on YCSD to implement the following: 

1. Form a diverse committee of administrators, teachers, students, parents, alumni and other active community members to spearhead racial justice education and ensure racial equity in our schools. This committee should be responsible for acting as a liaison between the district and the community. Plans, timelines, and progress on accomplishing the following points should be shared with the greater community in the spirit of transparency and accountability. 

2. Revise and expand the existing anti-racism curriculum for grades K-12 to address topics such as racial identity, the contemporary history of race relations in America (post-1965), and ongoing systemic and institutional racial issues. This curriculum should be interdisciplinary and especially prominent in English and social studies classes. In English classes, students should be assigned more texts directly related to systemic racism, allyship, and activism. In social studies classes, teachers should directly address issues like privilege, police brutality, redlining, mass incarceration, and the continuous oppression of the Indigenous population. The district should introduce regularly scheduled assemblies and workshops with qualified speakers for grades K-12 to address issues of systemic racism. 

3. Be a district of upstanders against racial injustice. The district should stand in solidarity with BIPOC, by releasing statements of acknowledgment and support for affected communities when public incidences of racial injustice occur. Furthermore, the district must take a preventative stance against both overt and covert racism within the Yorktown community.

4. Diversify the teaching and administrative faculty. The district should specifically aim to hire more BIPOC teachers and administrators. The district must make a public commitment to improve minority representation, and demographic data of faculty composition should be made available to the Yorktown community on an annual basis.

5. Mandate extensive diversity, inclusion, sensitivity and unconscious bias training for faculty and staff. Training should include topics on race and minority empowerment and should be administered by reputable, vetted organizations. 

Numerous school districts across the country and within Westchester County are being asked to implement large-scale changes to improve education addressing racial injustice and inequality. We ask that the district proactively confront issues of racism and injustice. We cannot be afraid to talk about racism in America. Conversations about race and racial injustice are best introduced at a young age to foster empathy. As our students enter adulthood, we need to equip them with the ability to have mature conversations about difficult topics.

By equipping Yorktown students with the resources needed to critically engage in ongoing conversations about racial inequality, we empower students to enact positive change in their communities and fulfill the YCSD mission of creating “competent, contributing, and compassionate world citizens.”

We, the signatories of this letter, are calling on YCSD to enact upon the aforementioned demands. We recognize and commend the actions that YCSD has taken thus far, and acknowledge that individual teachers are making efforts to discuss racial injustice in their classrooms. However, we must combat racial inequality and systemic racism through a standardized and united district-wide commitment to keep these issues at the forefront of the YCSD curriculum.

Sincerely,

Amna Chaudhry ’12

Lily Cao ’13

Maya Rau-Murthy ’13

Lizzie Crumley ’13

Claire Ferguson ’13

Lauren Gorstein ’13

Sarah Elkind ’13

Fatima Chaudhry ’15

Kulsoom Chaudhry ’16

Lindsay Aldrich ’16

Sophia Giatzis ’16

Gabby De Leon ‘16

Danica Servo ‘16

Aisha Chaudhry ’17

Navin Rath ’18

Sean Giatzis ‘18

Jack Hoye ‘18

Sarah Shapiro ‘19

Kileen Forte ‘19

Ava Briccetti ’20

Alanna Moskowitz ‘20

Jessica Moskowitz ‘20

Emma Connolly ‘21

Rebecca Gerdis ‘21

Rabia Chaudhry ’23

Samia-Rebecca Adjei ‘23