Dear Morton and Springfield Families:
While much time has been spent to prepare for the new school year, the Springfield School District has continued to work on other issues which are important to our school community.
I wanted to circle back to the communication we sent out in early June condemning systemic racism, bias, and intolerance. I want to thank you for the overwhelming response we got to our communication and discuss the district's next steps to further its commitment to maintaining a school environment free from unlawful discrimination.
Over the past several years, the district's curriculum in a number of content areas has become more culturally expansive and inclusive. The commitment that special area teachers have made to increasing cultural responsiveness in classrooms is noteworthy. For example, at a state conference this year, the district presented a unit from our required middle school Culture and Communication course which teaches the impact of racial epithets on children of color. As another example, the ELA teachers have done amazing work over the past three years to identify more than 25 core texts that have been added to the curriculum with both authors and protagonists of color. But, as you know, even despite these deliberate and explicit curricular experiences, hearts and minds may be slow to change. More can and should be done.
Many of you know Kyle Hammond, who is a parent in Springfield and life-long educator. The district partnered with him at the end of the 2018-2019 school year to act as the district's Family, Community, and Equity Consultant to assist the district with its planning and response to issues of social justice within our communities. His input will be invaluable as we proceed.
Many of you reached out and said that you wanted to help to elevate the conversations in our schools about systemic racism, bias and intolerance. We have used a District Advisory Team (DAT) in the past as a way of discussing and planning the implementation of district-wide initiatives. DAT is a partnership between educators, board members, community leaders, administrators, parents/guardians, and students to bring about planned and meaningful change.
The district has determined that establishing a DAT would provide an effective platform for the district and community to work collaboratively towards maintaining racial equity in our schools. While a schedule will be finalized after the start of the school year, we anticipate that meetings would be held once or twice a month after 5:30 PM.
Any student or parent/guardian who is interested in volunteering to join this year's DAT to plan and extend our efforts to date on combating racism both in our schools and our communities should contact their principal. In order to have a manageable number of participants on the DAT, the district reserves the right to accept a limited number of volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis.
The district welcomes comments and questions regarding racism, bias, or intolerance, and asks that they be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure receipt by the district and consideration by the DAT.
Thank you for reading and considering. Feel free to contact us with the email above with any questions.