3/19/21 Family Letter

Back on June 2, 2020, the Springfield School District released a statement focused on the core ideal of respect. Specifically, we, as a district, felt compelled to express our profound grief over the tragic circumstances that led to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the deaths of so many others related to hatred and racial violence.

We took those events, along with the national reckoning that followed, as the springboard for our own voice to share with the community a renewed commitment to creating a school system dedicated to the development of respect for human dignity and to engender a shared responsibility in supporting each and every member of our school community. We all recognize that this is not easily done, especially when the massive weight of the pandemic makes connecting with students and families so difficult. But, we press on and hope that we can increase our efforts as the veil of COVID-19 begins to be lifted.

Unfortunately, as we scan the media today, we are continually reminded that respect is something that isn't always afforded to those individuals that don't look the same as the predominant culture in our society. Most recently, a troubling and disturbing trend has risen focusing hateful and negative actions towards members of the Asian American / Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. While local and national media is rife with daily incidents of hate, it's important to remember that the Springfield and Morton communities are not immune to these as well. Sadly, our Black, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and AAPI families all have to contend with a world that sees them as different simply because of how they look. It takes a considerable toll on them and especially their children – OUR children.

In light of the recent acts of violence focused towards members of the AAPI community, we want all of our students, teachers, and families to know that any form of racism, bias, and disrespect will not be tolerated in the Springfield School District. What binds us together is our commitment to each other. Our bond as communities is forged from the belief that every one of the students in the Springfield School District should be free to come to school and experience friendships, kindness amongst peers and staff, acceptance for who they are, and respect for what they can contribute to the classroom and the world.

What or how each of us looks should not define anyone's claim to those basic rights. In a world where so many people have experienced pain and difficulty, we want our schools to be a respite from that for our children. We hope you will read this and consider it as you speak with your children about kindness and acceptance – about the importance of words, how they can lift and tear down – how jokes, while sometimes meant to be humorous, can be painful, sometimes devastating. All of the children of the Springfield & Morton communities have so much to give to this world, and we will do our part to make sure every single one feels the confidence to do so.

We are a diverse community made up of White, Black, AAPI, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Native American students. A tapestry of races, religions, and sexual orientation are represented every day in our school corridors. We need only look to the amazing success of our district over the past decade to recognize that this is our strength. Divided we are nothing. Together, we are all Cougars and can achieve anything.

Respectfully,

The Springfield School District Staff, Faculty, Board of Directors, and Administrative Team.