June 15, 2020 Joint Letter on Equity

This joint communication, from Superintendent Kathie Foster and Incoming Superintendent Brian Betze is being issued as a follow up to Dr. Foster’s
June 3rd Statement to the Community.

June 15, 2020

Dear Community Members,

Our hearts are heavy. The tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbury, Rayshard Brooks and so many members of the black community are a reflection of the racial injustice that continues to plague our nation. As we mourn these current tragedies, we, as a district, are taking action to confront and combat the social injustice and systemic racism that has permeated our society.  In this moment we are called to challenge, both explicitly and implicitly, the racial inequalities that exist within our own system. We understand that in order to educate our students, we must first educate ourselves, identify our biases, call out microaggressions, and uncover policies, practices, and protocols that promote inequality.

In 2019, our year-long strategic planning process yielded clear results. One of the most critical outcomes of this process led to a district-wide, multi-dimensional focus on equity. As the basis of our Vision Statement, this theme drives our work on every level.  At the June 23rd meeting of the Robbinsville Board of Education, we will report on our work thus far, as well as on our related plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Please click here to access an overview

Over the past few days we have received emails from students, alumni, and concerned citizens calling us, as a school district, to action. First, we want to thank each person who wrote to us expressing concern and asking what we are doing to actively promote anti-racist policies, practices, and curricula. As so many current and former students stand up and speak their truth, hope is emerging from the heart of their social activism. We are grateful for this.

It is highly evident from the communication we received that the Robbinsville community wants to be a part of lasting change. As a society we hold universal values. In the days ahead, every member of our school community can practice ally-ship and civic engagement. When we open our minds and hearts to the shared experience of people of all ethnicities, gender orientation, social-economic status, and learning abilities, we show support. When we read articles, books and opinion pieces penned by minority authors, we increase our awareness. This is important individually and collectively, for in living our values, we begin the process of transformation. When we strengthen our personal commitment to a just world, we may also inspire others to do the same.

Our Board of Education is currently drafting a resolution condemning racism and calling for a continued district-wide focus on equity.  This resolution will be approved during the June 23, 2020 Board meeting. Equity is a priority for each member of the Robbinsville Board of Education. Additionally, we are firmly committed to our SROs who have established strong and positive relationships with our students and assist us in providing safe and healthy places in which to learn. 

Finally, thank you to our students, community members, and township officials who have joined this vital call for action and change. In closing, we would like to share a recent quote by basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

Thank you for shining a light on our work.  We hear you. 

As educators, we will employ a culturally responsive approach.  We hold a critical role in modeling for our students. We need to demonstrate empathy for all and educate our students on how to communicate with and listen to their friends, their families, their community members and, most importantly, with those whose opinions differ from their own. 

As we move forward, we will remain strong in our commitment and focus.  We share a common goal, one that is long overdue and sorely needed. We join you in a deep desire to create a world in which you, and your children, and your children’s children have equal opportunity, equal access, and equal treatment in every aspect of our society.

Sincerely,

Kathie Foster, Superintendent        
Brian Betze, Incoming Superintendent
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