Local school districts discuss race, diversity
Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood school district officials have spoken out about race relations and national events with regards to Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of elevated concerns about police brutality and social injustice.
The Tonganoxie USD 464 school board released a statement last week, the day after its regular June meeting. Here is the school board’s statement:
“As individuals, communities, and a nation, we have been deeply affected by recent tragedies, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which are grim reminders of the social and racial injustice that continues to exist in our world. Kansas schools have been enriched by the growing diversity of our state. As education leaders and citizens in our communities and state, we have a responsibility to increase our own social awareness and amplify previously underrepresented voices and perspectives.
Dr. King said, ‘The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.’
As education leaders, we must not be silent. Our students, especially our students living these injustices, need to hear our voices, more importantly we must listen to the voices that have not been heard. Let’s come together to listen, learn, and act to eliminate systemic racism.”
The statement was released on the district’s social media June 9.
Basehor-Linwood USD 458 Superintendent David Howard also released a statement.
The letter, addressed to Basehor-Linwood families, discussed racism in light of national protests.
“I don’t believe this to be a political issue,” Howard wrote. “Racism is a systemic issue in America, about which many of us still need to educate ourselves.
“I believe it is important to remember that part of why we enter education is to teach students to speak up for what they believe, teach them how to use their voice, and not to pick a side, but instead to become better listeners.”
He went on to discuss that the Basehor-Linwood district strives to provide inclusive environments that work to be culturally responsive and encourage difficult conversations on racism, diversity and equality in and out of the classroom.
He hoped that the letter would “prompt critical conversations in your households and around our community.”
“We can do better. We NEED to do better. Soon we will begin seeking information from parents, staff and the community to put together a new five-year strategic plan for the district.
He went on to say that “the Basehor-Linwood School District does not stand for racial intolerance and we will continue to educate our staff and students on becoming culturally responsive citizens.”