Advocate for Racial Equity in Malden Public Schools
Advocate for Racial Equity in Malden Public Schools
Friday October 30, 2020
An Open Letter to Malden Public Schools Administration:
During Back to School Night last week, there was a racist attack on our school, which was experienced by students, staff, and families. However, this is not the first time our community has experienced racism.
Our current moment has pushed us to think back to other times when our students and community have been forced to deal with racism, and to make connections between what we see in Malden and what is happening around the country. Both MHS Students and Staff for Racial Equity would like to take this moment to express our concerns with what we see happening in our school, our district, and our city. Our goal is to outline the problems we see, provide suggestions and thoughts to make improvements for the benefit for all students, staff, and community members, and invite and empower others into this collaborative work.
The MHS Students for Racial Equity, formerly known as the MHS Curriculum Reform Youth Board, was established in August 2020. Our goal is to collaborate with educators, administrators, and community partners in implementing more student representation across the scope of Malden High School. We, as students, firmly believe that it is necessary for our voices to be heard as the majority of our student body population come from marginalized backgrounds. Malden Public Schools have pushed off the needs of their students and as a diverse network of students, we collectively agree that this change is long overdue.
After spending three years reading and discussing books that deal with questions of race, equity, and education, the MHS Staff for Racial Equity group formed at the end of last school year in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of police and the resulting nationwide protests. Over the summer, the MHS Staff for Racial Equity has been gathering information about racism in the Malden Public Schools through analyzing data and hosting two community forums. Other members of this group have been planning actions through creating systems of accountability and organizing staff professional development. This group has continued to meet and take action to work toward our goal of making Malden High School a more inclusive and explicitly antiracist school.
Outlining the Issue
We understand and recognize that administration is concerned about issues regarding race and inclusivity and our collective experiences have led us to identify areas for improvement. The problems that students and faculty are experiencing center around a lack of clear, consistent communication, proactive steps to address issues of racism, absent structures of accountability, and a lack of student voice that is integral to the decision making processes at Malden High.
Here are issues that we have noticed within our school and would like to address:
Discussions around issues solely occur between students and between teachers, but no community conversations are happening. There is not enough communication between students, teachers, and administrators.
There is a lack of transparency around the school actions and, in some instances, we are not all on the same page when it comes to dismantling these issues, especially when it comes to racism. Students and staff consistently feel left in the dark.
There is not enough built-in time for conversations about race and antiracist work, and everything is happening on personal time.
Malden Public Schools is not proactive enough: issues of racism are only brought up when something major happens or when they have to be. Decisions are often made in reaction to events without input from students, families, and staff.
These issues have created a school culture in which students feel unwelcome, unheard, and unsupported. We believe that addressing these issues will create a more inclusive school and a community where everyone feels like they belong.
We believe that racial equity at Malden High School can be improved through increasing transparency between students, staff, and administrators and in creating structures to be proactive instead of reactive about issues related to race and racism.
In addition to transparency, there is also a distinct need for communication between administration, staff, and the student body about what is being done to approach issues of equity. Specifically, we propose creating a committee composed of students, teachers, and administrators that would focus on providing feedback and input to administrators in order to guide the policy making process around issues of equity and race. In addition, the members of this committee would act as liaisons for their respective group in order to increase transparency surrounding the decision making process and what’s being done to address issues of inequity (i.e. Students committee members would get the word out to other students about what’s being worked on to solve these issues).
We also propose creating space for regular conversations about race and equity between teachers and students during class or during advisory time. Utilizing time regularly during the school day will keep important conversations about race and racism ongoing, rather than reacting to problems that arise when overt acts of racism occur, while simultaneously allowing students to have a voice on current issues at the school. Our school has a history of using restorative justice circles. These could be used as a strategy for discussing race.
We think it is vital for our community to come together on this issue. Together, we can help push Malden High School in the right direction.
MHS Students and Staff for Racial Equity