Letter from Superintendent Greene
June 2020 #BlackLivesMatter
Dear Students, Parents, and Staff of the Yakima School District,
This pivotal time in the history of our nation has both separated us and brought us together; thus, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and the national call for racial equity positions us as witnesses and participants in society-altering events. The uncomfortable educational shift to distance learning, which included our forced separation, is juxtaposed against the demand for proximity in standing against police brutality and systemic racial inequities. As we look up to our astronauts relaunching into space this past month, we also look down on our lack of progress in dismantling systems designed to fail people of color and maintain disparities between those with and those without privilege. We have suffered from a lack of physical contact while fearing for the physical well-being of both those systematically oppressed and those positioned to maintain law and order.
The weaponized bias, wielded by a white woman, as a tool to terrorize Christian Cooper in New York City’s Central Park, and a multitude of other nationally prominent racial injustices preceded the inexcusable killing of George Floyd. The slow narration of his own death was the match that lit the flame of collective outrage across our city and nation. As a country, we have failed to practice (or combine) empathy, courage, and action to move from “allies” who support those systemically oppressed to “accomplices” who engage as partners to achieve equality, justice, and fairness for all people. I am angered by those who stood by, complicit in their inaction, while a man’s last breath left his body during a public strangulation. I am frustrated by the silence and inaction of so many in positions of privilege, a position in which I find myself as superintendent. I am saddened that I have not done more. ...that we have not done more.
Anger, frustration, and sadness, however, only change the world when they lead to action. The Yakima School District (YSD) is accountable to our students, families, and the Yakima community for rooting out inequities in our education system. I affirm to you my commitment that, as district personnel, we will extend beyond the written acknowledgment of national atrocities and lead to guarantee humanity, dignity and equal rights of every student, parent, and staff member in the elimination of prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination from the educational process. In order to safeguard humanity, dignity, and equal rights of every student, parent, and staff member, the YSD is committed to the following goals:
- Improve achievement for all students based on equitable access to educational opportunities, experiences, and expectations, including consistent and high standards for all.
- Promote and support the involvement of all parents in their students’ education.
- Train all staff to be competent in the education of a culturally-diverse student body.
- Teach and model respect for cultural diversity and individual differences.
- Employ a diverse staff, which serves as a role model by reflecting the ethnic and cultural composition of the district’s student body.
- Achieve balance by meeting federal and state-mandated guidelines related to the correction of racial imbalance and by providing meaningful educational options within the district.
- Provide equitable supports for all limited or non-English speaking students to achieve English-language proficiency.
- Distribute resources equitably to meet student needs and better ensure academic success for all students.
I will share regular updates on our progress toward, not only increased digital and educational equity but also in our reach beyond our district boundaries to lead for positive change. Whether addressing the challenges of oppression and racism or the health danger and inconvenience of COVID-19, I affirm that education is the most powerful tool in changing the world. While we are not satisfied with our challenge to seamlessly address the culmination of events disrupting 2020, we are dedicated to improving as individuals, as leaders, and as a district. While we are disappointed that a district physical celebration is not currently a reality, we are unified in the extension of our love and concern for our community, families, and students, beyond graduation to the events that impact them daily. While we are disappointed that a district physical celebration is not currently a reality, we are unified in the extension of our love and concern for our students. This unity extends beyond a canceled graduation procession to events that have a daily impact on their lives.
Giving us the opportunity to model empathy, courage, and action, this pivotal time in the history of our nation has both separated us and brought us together.
Yakima School District