A message from The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Like so many of you, I am stunned, hurt, and deeply reflective following the murder of George Floyd. The United States has a long history of racism, and much of it is still prevalent today. I am confident that, as a member of the OSPI team, you are focused on the part of this national struggle that we have a duty to help shape. We are educators. We know, that despite real progress, educational systems and institutions continue to contribute to racial inequality and injustice. We know that we have a much higher responsibility than teaching content in classrooms. We know that each of us owns a piece of injustice. We are part of a system that will continue to oppress for as long as it is tolerated. The truth is, there is no mountain we climb to declare victory. This is a constant body of work, and we are all responsible for acknowledging our own biases, engaging in honest self-reflection, and remaining committed to doing better.
As a white, heterosexual male, I was born with incredible privilege, and with that comes an enormous responsibility to be an ally in the fight for racial justice. At OSPI, we have authority to make powerful contributions to racial justice. We don’t just fund schools, or set regulations, or merely collect data; we empower a system whose fundamental responsibility is to provide equitable opportunities for every child that walks through the doors of our schools.
Our nation is in the midst of another culture war. We have been here before. It is violent at times – a symptom when those who hurt the most are not heard. It hurts our souls when those who are most oppressed can’t be seen using the tools and mediums designed for the privileged. And, it doesn’t go away with a single policy or a single arrest, and it won’t as long as another generation of hate is fueled by ignorance. Our work must be a lifetime of energy towards a more just world. For our black and brown sisters and brothers; for our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers; for our tribal communities, for our family, friends, and community members with disabilities; those who are trapped in intergenerational poverty; those who are recent immigrants; and those who are struggling or impacted by addiction. We are not in the business of schools; we are humanity builders.
I know we are hurting right now. I am hurting right now, and I need to process, understand, and contextualize what I am seeing, feeling, and internalizing. Kim and I are trying to listen to our children; to let them process as well. They too are trying to make sense of their world, and they are doing it with far less historical context, and in a moment of physical isolation following the social distancing impacts of COVID. If you would like some help navigating these difficult times, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential and free resource available to you.
I challenge you to continue your journey to understand racial injustice, power imbalances, privilege, and systems of oppression. From education, to financial institutions, to housing, and to so many other aspects of the American experience, we have built a nation on ideals. But through most of our history, those ideals were hollow for people of color and other marginalized groups.
I encourage you to take time to process what you are seeing and feeling. Find a way to be an ally. Stay committed to the mission of public education, and when you are ready, be a light for someone struggling through darkness.
I wish you all healthy reflection and ultimate hope,
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
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