As many of you know by now, the Unit 4 School Board passed the “Resolution to Declare Racism is a Public Health Crisis as it Adversely Impacts our Students, Families, Staff, and Community at Large” on June 24th. The Resolution outlines 10 given facts or points, and uses those points as a springboard for 13 directives (I did not consider the last Section, called Section XIII, a directive) for the school district as a whole, the Superintendent specifically, and various named committees such as the Policy Review Committee, the Discipline Equity/Advisory Task Force (DEA), and the Education Equity Excellence (EEE) Committee. A draft resolution was circulated via social media prior to the meeting; about 93 people provided public comment (some spoken in person, others read by Dr. Gianina Baker) over the course of two hours. They represented groups like HV Neighborhood Transformation, Champaign County Anti-Racist Coalition (CCARC), Champaign Federation of Teachers (CFT), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Paign to Peace, the Garden Hills Neighborhood Association, medical professionals, higher ed professors, and the Trauma Resiliency Initiative. A large portion self-identified as parents. They covered topics like removing SROs/police from schools (23), restructuring the history curriculum (9), less talk and more action (6), and the need for more Black teachers (6), among many others. I believe everyone spoke in favor of the Resolution. For the last hour, board members motioned, discussed and voted on the Resolution.
The Unit 4 Resolution used the same-titled June 8th Resolution of the Akron School Board as a template. Dr. N. J. Akbar, the Vice President of the Akron School Board and the Associate Dean for Academic Diversity at Kent State University, originally drafted the Resolution and then collected feedback from fellow board members and community stakeholders. When I asked Dr. Akbar what inspired him to draft this Resolution, he provided the following comment, which he has agreed to allow me to share:
Below is a presentation that I did for over 100 Ohio School Board members a little over a week ago. It explains more of what I am referencing and has a list of resources in it.As far as what motivated me to write it, there are multiple reasons. One, I am a race and culture in education scholar professionally and by advanced training, therefore, I knew the importance of going beyond a simple condemnation statement. I also recognized that there was momentum between the board. As I began writing the resolution, I spoke with each board member about what I was planning to do and all appeared supportive of reading what I was putting together. In the process of drafting the language, I did receive two calls from community members urging the school district to do something more than condemning racism. Additionally, I sent the draft for feedback to our City Council President and the County Councilwoman leading the charge in those chambers. I also sent the draft after the board had weighed in to our NAACP President for feedback.The final version included all of those levels of feedback plus the feedback from the administration and our legal counsel.I have tons of resources. I am not sure exactly what you are looking for but here are a few videos that serve as great conversation starters and dismantling some misconceptions.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4M-5V8uUtKA – THIS IS THE BEST ONE!!!!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBZPHE1oPJo – Second BEST
The Akron School Board President, Patrick Bravo, also said:
‘We decided to “link arms” with our city council and county council in going so far as to declare racism a public health crisis. There is a similar ongoing effort in the state legislature.’ Can we do that in Champaign as well? Have we already started?
The Champaign School Board is preparing to make some major changes; we all need to work together to keep this momentum going. The reason I wrote this blog post was to share what I have found so far, but also to open the door for more discussion and learning. Our job, as the community, is to govern the school district through the School Board, holding the School Board accountable (CUSD #4 Board Policies 105 “The People and Their School District”).
I close with the July 3rd NPR video “Frederick Douglass’ Descendants Deliver His ‘Fourth Of July’ Speech”, a message to white people about the Black experience of July 4th: