“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
–Declaration of Independence
The past several months have posed incredible challenges in our own backyard and beyond, but in the past week we have seen how division can erode trust in our nation at large. I and the entire administrative team are disgusted and appalled over the circumstances and death of George Floyd. His death is emblematic of the systemic racism that exists throughout our country. The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other innocent black Americans are beyond what words alone can express.
Make no mistake about it, we are witnessing protests in our communities and across the country, not only because of the death of George Floyd, but because of all of the black people who have been victims of racism. We have seen firsthand racial injustice and governmental use of force against its own citizens. This is not an issue of political affiliation, but one of basic human rights. Black lives do indeed matter.
Throughout history, racism has been used to sow division and hatred. To believe anything less is a misrepresentation of the truth. I will never be able to fully understand the realities that black people and people of color face in their everyday lives. However, I, as well as the entire Verona Public School District, must make the effort to listen to those oppressed and subjugated so that we may become more informed when joining their mission for change.
We have been inspired to witness the powerful messages and unity from the protesters and law enforcement. This is symbolic of the greatness of our nation and demonstrates what we can become. We can do better and we must be better.
Our schools are the bedrock of our communities and it saddens us that there are students who have had experiences that are not consistent with our core values. We are committed to focusing more heavily on incorporating lessons throughout our curriculum to teach about the importance of advocacy and the dangers of racism. We are not perfect by any means, but we are dedicated to working diligently to improve our schools so that we may meet the needs of our students and our society. To recognize this fact is imperative in moving toward meaningful solutions.
Protests and marches are just the beginning. A civil discourse is the next step. Our community is made up of amazing and diverse people and we value their voices. The Verona Public School District will be coordinating a committee, inclusive of our black students, staff, and families, so that we may learn from their experiences, make meaningful improvements, and better address societal needs so that issues of racism do not define the next generation.
Education and love are the most powerful weapons on earth. If we expect positive change to be lasting, that’s exactly where we need to start. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., may we work together so that all people will “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
What we need now is more action. From our schools to your homes, and on behalf of our Board of Education, our administration, and all of our educators, we look forward to you joining us to make our world a much better place than the way we found it. The administrative team and counselors are here for you and available to listen to any of your concerns during this difficult time in our nation.