Improving Race Education in Dublin City Schools
Improving Race Education in Dublin City Schools
To the past, present, and future students, parents, and faculty of Dublin City Schools:
As seen in the news cycle and the protests and conversations happening around us, the recent murder of George Floyd has been largely regarded as a tipping point for the Black community in the United States. Though systemic racism has existed since the founding of our nation, it has taken up until now for many non-Black people to educate themselves on, reflect on, and try to improve on the lack of equality, and more importantly equity, in the United States. As a 2019 graduate of Dublin Jerome High School, my education on structural racism and the perpetual oppression that has resulted from the very founding of this country largely began in college: much later than it should have. With that in mind, I have drafted the following email to Dublin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Hoadley in hopes of beginning to incorporate discussions and education on race, structural and systemic racism, white privilege, and other necessary topics into the classroom. If Dublin City Schools hopes to prepare their students for higher education, the workforce, and to be difference makers, students must leave school with an education that encourages them to be more than just excellence on paper- they must also be empathetic, informed, and have passion for issues that may not directly affect themselves. After reading my letter to Dr. Hoadley, if you support the calls to action and would like to attach your name to said email, I would be incredibly grateful.
Dear Superintendent Dr. Hoadley,
My name is Leah Neff, and I was a member of your Superintendent Council during my four years at Dublin Jerome High School. I am writing to you today to hopefully address and initiate change revolving around race education in Dublin City Schools.
During my four years on the Superintendent Council, you always urged us to bring concerns, questions, and suggestions to you. Unfortunately, it has taken me until after my time expired in the Dublin City Schools system to bring forward one of the now-clearest concerns I have.
If I was to summarize my education on systemic and structural racism and its past, present, and future implications for Black people in the United States, it would be as follows: the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was a peaceful and successful movement that resulted in equality for most Black Americans. While yes, the Civil Rights Movement should be celebrated and taught, it is a disservice to both the Black and non-Black students of Dublin City Schools to continue this narrative and this narrative only.
I kindly ask you to consider the following calls to action:
1. At the elementary level, require class reading time to include selections that focus on anti-racism, as well as prioritize adding more Black authors to the bookshelves of all schools. It is not enough to teach kids that we are all equal regardless of skin color when in reality the American system is built to favor some skin tones over others.
2. Require, if not already required, continued anti-racism education and training for all teachers and administrators in Dublin City Schools.
3. Prove you have a commitment to diversifying your faculty. While I only have my experience to speak from, all but one educator I interacted with from K-12 was white, and I would love to hear why that is. It is not enough to say that we celebrate diversity, or that diversity makes us stronger: if that is the case, it should be reflected in our teachers.
4. Reconsider and reconstruct curriculum where permitted and fight for state standards to reflect a curriculum that is less based on Eurocentrism. While books such as To Kill a Mockingbird have been ever praised and taught, even a book once viewed as radical still relies on the “White Savior Complex”. Encourage or mandate literature in History and English classes that speak from the point of view of BIPOC and that does not glorify our troubling United States history.
5. Commit to hosting regular speakers or workshops (at least bi-annually) that focus on the topics of systemic racism, white supremacy and privilege, and how those are still affecting Black Americans today, hopefully allowing students to have an open dialogue with one another.
6. Ensure that if police officers remain as “resource officers” in the school buildings, that they have undergone anti-racism training.
I understand some may argue this to be political. However, it is dangerous to label it as such. The systemic oppression of Black people can be taught without bias or agenda. There are evidence-based disparities in healthcare and health outcomes, education, wealth and income, and imprisonment and police brutality. By ignoring these issues, or by refusing to teach and acknowledge them, they do not go away. They simply carry on.
Thank you for your time. When or if you can do so, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to continue this conversation. I have read the statement from the Board of Education on its commitment to social justice and would like to discuss how Dublin City Schools can include real-time deliverables and action items to improve said commitment.
Dublin Jerome ‘19
Attached I have included the names of those who support the preceding calls to action.