Statements on Racial Injustice
June 2, 2020
CSD Board of Education statement
Dear City Schools of Decatur Community,
The CSD School Board would like to express our anger, sadness, and disappointment concerning recent racially charged incidents by CSD students that have hurt the fabric of our community. We recognize how these incidents have reinjured the wounds of systemic racism that plague our local community and nation. We want the community to know that we understand the compounded pain that many of our staff, students, and their families are experiencing as the nation struggles to confront and heal from the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.
As a School Board, we are committed to continuing the work of implementing anti-racist policies, which ensure that all CSD students and staff feel safe and valued. The school system will soon share new ideas on how it plans to address racism and healing within our schools. The district is also collaborating with organizations in the Decatur community to create opportunities for community members to partner with us in this work.
We encourage CSD families to continue having courageous conversations about racism, privilege, and the roles we can each play in preventing more incidents like the ones we have recently experienced as a community. James Baldwin, the late novelist and activist, stated, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” The CSD School Board is committed to facing and changing these difficult issues together with our staff, students, and their families. If this type of change can happen anywhere, it can happen in the City of Decatur.
Statement from the CSD Administration
Black Lives Matter is more than a hashtag. Indeed, we as leaders of City Schools of Decatur recognize it as an indisputable truth that has been ignored in US society for far too long.
We are individually and collectively disgusted, saddened, and distraught by the murder of Black people based purely upon charges like jogging while African American, driving while African American, sleeping while African American, or a litany of other activities that in no way deserve the undiluted racist hatred that has far too often been their result. The continued occurrence of racist incidents in Decatur, the State of Georgia, and throughout the United States is intolerable.
We also know that saying “racism is intolerable” is not enough. We must actively engage in anti-racist actions if we are to progress in our schools, our city, and our country. Therefore, each of us, individually and collectively, wish to share our commitment to engage in policy and practice changes that stand against all forms of racism at interpersonal, internalized, organizational, and systemic levels.
For several years, CSD has undertaken the challenging but important work of addressing racial inequality, and we are heavily invested in this work. We have developed a District Equity Action Plan (https://bit.ly/CSDEAP), have done in-depth equity work with teachers, and formed an initial cohort of Students Organized for Anti-Racism (SOAR) at DHS. Our school and district leaders have participated in extensive equity training under the Leadership for Racial Equity Development program, and our cabinet and school board leaders have participated in multiple opportunities to work on the development of their personal understandings of racial equity. Each of our schools and the Wilson Center has an Equity Team, and we have established a quick and easy process for concerned parties to submit equity ideas and/or concerns directly to our Equity Director at https://bit.ly/CSDEquityIdeas.
Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow writes, “I think we all know, deep down, that something more is required of us now. This truth is difficult to face because it’s inconvenient and deeply unsettling. And yet silence isn’t an option.” CSD will not remain silent. Despite the strong work toward eradicating racist outcomes in our district, we also acknowledge that the stubborn specter of disproportionate outcomes and other manifestations of racism continue to loom over our efforts. We are aware of this truth, and, thereby, committed to redoubling our efforts. We are responsible for nurturing anti-racist educational learning environments where each and every child is respected and valued for who they are regardless of skin color, gender, sexual identity or orientation, ability or disability, or any other marginalized category. We will not accept educational environments where students are subject to conditions in which their identity makes them a target of abuse.
Our work isn’t done. We at City Schools of Decatur commit to furthering our efforts toward anti-racist leadership and fostering inclusive educational environments where every student and staff member feels a sense of belonging and is treated with dignity and respect through the following specific actions.
Partnering with Black students, Black teachers, Black staff members, and Black families to explore how they are affected by racism; what support they need from their schools; and what they would like to have happen in this moment and beyond.
Establishing an Anti-Racism and Social Justice course that is rigorous in its attention to systemic disenfranchisement; relevant to current challenges and opportunities; powerfully meaningful to local, national, and global issues; and will be taken by every CSD student prior to graduation.
Developing and implementing a 4-session anti-racism curriculum for all secondary students beginning Fall 2020.
Initiating an African American history course that will be offered by Decatur High School this fall.
Scrutinizing the curricular content of the current social justice course offered at Renfroe Middle School.
Scrutinizing the spectrum of CSD curriculum to ensure we are broadening its context, examining resources for bias, and closely evaluating for effectiveness in positive outcomes for Black students.
Revising our code of conduct.
Establishing new goals for our school- and district-based Equity Teams to aid them as they continue their excellent work of providing anti-racism professional development for our teachers.
Continuing to partner with community organizations dedicated to the eradication of systemic racism such as the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights and Agnes Scott’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Action, among others.
Continually reviewing our hiring practices and procedures, training hiring managers, and drafting policy toward the goal of increasing the hiring and retention of faculty and administrators of color.
At such a bleak time, the current situation in the US and at CSD makes it seem as if nothing has been done and no progress has been made. Nevertheless, we want our community to feel assured that not only has some progress been made, but also that we will not stop striving for change until we see a total elimination of inequitable student outcomes and systemic racist culture across our district. We believe that what leaders do in the days, weeks, and years ahead will ultimately make a difference in dismantling the White supremacy and anti-Black racism that occurs within and beyond our schools. We care deeply for our communities of color and, with your input and support, will continue to act until we reach our goals.
Mari Ann Banks