The sadness and anger felt by our school district community, and specifically our black community, over the murder of George Floyd are shared emotions we cannot deny. We write to you today, after much reflection, to express our support for our students of color and the black community in their peaceful protests for systemic change.
Our hearts break when we watch the images across the nation of racial injustice and the pain that permeates communities and individuals who are rightfully both grieving and enraged at the same moment. But what gives us hope in the process, is the witness of people from all races coming together and creating action.
With this email to all of you, we want to offer our supportive words, but we also feel an important need to put action behind our message. Here are our ideas on how we can begin to come together and put the words into motion:
- Schedule listening forums (once social distancing measures are lifted) to hear concerns from our district community and share ideas for betterment. Collect the ideas and report back to the community on how we plan to implement change, based on the input.
- For existing CRCSD staff, continue our training in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion with an expanded focus on hours devoted to this important learning development and actionable items that emerge from the listening sessions.
- For the recruitment of new CRCSD staff, heighten our work around diversity hiring and retention outlined in our diversity and inclusion plan and reported by our newly-hired diversity recruiter.
- Create a landing page on our district website devoted to CRCSD diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and resources. This is where we’ll post the progress on our ideas.
- Promote the firstname.lastname@example.org email to capture any concerns or questions and begin a dialogue with the community that can lead to face-to-face discussions.
- Engage community members and CRCSD staff in a taskforce to create a long-term diversity, equity and inclusion plan by July 2021.
We have high expectations of what diversity engagement in our district should look like. We certainly strive to make sure we are instilling the best practices and providing the appropriate training and caring for all members of our community to feel respected and heard. For the white members of our community who will never truly know all the experiences of our diverse members, we will need your full engagement. Please know we are committed to continuous learning and thoughtful understanding.
We look forward to continuing our efforts of support for diverse community members, and we will report back to you with progress on the ideas we presented above.
Cedar Rapids Community School District Board of Directors
Superintendent Noreen Bush