Mosinee School District Justice & Equity Education

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Trevor Holtz
Trevor Holtz signed this petition

Dear Superintendent David Muñoz, Principal Lehman, and Members of the Mosinee School District Board of Education:

We are the School District of Mosinee alumni, current students and faculty. We write to respectfully insist that the School District of Mosinee (i) craft a comprehensive Elementary, Middle and High School curricula plan inclusive of Black history and specifically addressing systemic racism and White privilege; starting with a mandatory class dedicated to injustice education taught at MHS by Fall 2021 (ii) require diversity and inclusion training for all faculty and (iii) encourage its peer schools to do the same. 

As you are aware, major protests have broken out across the country--including in our neighboring cities (Wausau, Madison, and Minneapolis) where members of the community and MSD alumni are present-- in the wake of a policeman’s videotaped murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The American people are heartbroken and angry at the loss of another Black life at the hands of police, and we are speaking up.

Conversations and education about endemic racism (i.e., the racist policies that have shaped and continue to shape this country) must not only take place in the streets of the United States, but also in primary and secondary educational institutions including in Mosinee School District. We have a responsibility to examine the roles that privilege and bias play within our own walls. This is all the more true because the School District of Mosinee starts teaching students as young as four. Despite the efforts to display learning and social experiences of a diverse society for every student within MSD, our fellow students of color have been subject to both overt and covert racism within our school buildings. This is simply unacceptable, and MSD must view this as a reflection of what we have failed to teach our students. You have the power and responsibility to broaden your students’ understanding of the world. And you must. This national lack of education has led to a propulsion of these societal issues and created a culture of complacency that further divides our nation and progress for human rights. We should take pride in grooming the next generation of leaders, and those leaders must understand how far we are from, and how we must fight for, racial equality and environmental justice. 

We cherish our public education and the values we learned and examined while we were students. The Mosinee School District has historically been and remains a predominantly white institution, students, faculty, and administrators alike. While we were students in Mosinee, this fact was rarely, if ever, discussed. We were not encouraged to examine or question our own role in supporting structural racism or the ways in which the majority of the student body benefited from it.

The world has changed since the alumni among us were MSD students. In the intervening years, the American populace has mourned the unnecessary deaths of too many people of color, often after bearing witness to police brutality via videos circulated on social media. The phrase “white privilege” has entered the vernacular. There is no excuse for places like the School District of Mosinee not to participate in that reckoning and take a leadership role in making positive change.  

We believe it is necessary for the Mosinee School District to create a comprehensive plan for addressing these issues at the Elementary, Middle and High School levels. Despite small efforts to discuss the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless other Black citizens to enlighten students and educators in other small cities, Mosinee has not been mentioned as an active participant in these important discussions. The Mosinee School District must make a plan to incorporate lessons of systemic racism, privilege and true American history, including the Black perspective into its ongoing curricula. The School District of Mosinee must ensure that these conversations are not optional. The district must undertake these discussions with a self-critical eye, fostering conversations about how MSD itself, and public school systems like it, perpetuate racist policies -- even if it does not intend to do so.

Further, diversity and inclusion continuous education should be provided for all faculty. Learning never ends for any of us when it comes to these topics. An active awareness of unconscious bias should be built into the faculty and staff culture. The district should fund resource groups for its employees to build relationships across different roles through shared background or experience as related to one’s identity in order to build a culture of inclusion to lead students by example.

We also believe that the Mosinee School District should release this plan to its community so that the MSD can be held accountable. We encourage you to formalize this engagement by forming an Advisory Board composed of parents, faculty, staff, alumni and other stakeholders. Any plan to address these issues can only be made stronger by inviting as diverse a group as possible to comment on it, now and into the future.

We know firsthand the innumerable ways a district education benefits any student who walks through the doors. But, without serious self-reflection on the part of the schools and their largely white and privileged student body, Mosinee is also doing its students and country a grave disservice.