PSBA Provides this Template for School Boards Around the State to Declare their Activism
The Pennsylvania School Board Association has provided a template for an “antiracism” board resolution that can be adopted by any school board in the state. While this template purports to wish to address issues of racism and inequality, it makes a series of unsupported claims. Among them are “… racism is systemic, and it is unconsciously and consciously rooted into our institutions, policies, and practices.” It further recommends looking at school policies through an ” … anti-racist and equity lens.”
Of course, if racism were still present in any particular school, it should be eliminated. However, vague, unsupported claims about systemic racism are not a productive means of identifying and solving problems. Furthermore, using an “anti-racist and equity lens” to evaluate a school’s racial equity status is destined to find problems: it will identify racial disparities and immediately ascribe them to race without considering the other potential factors leading to the disparity. On top of that, it is inappropriate for a school board to take on one form of political activism as part of its policies.
It is worth checking if your local school has adopted a resolution similar to this one, or if they intend to. Members can also find resources in our Advocacy Toolkit to help make the case against this kind of resolution.
Full text of the template below.
TEMPLATE: Resolution supporting the development of an anti-racist school climate by the Board of Directors of the ___________School District
[This resolution is a template and should be revised based on local context to reflect the needs and commitments of your board and school community. The final sentence provides an opportunity for each board to include action steps to demonstrate their commitment to equity and should be revised or removed based on local actions.]
WHEREAS, we are deeply saddened and outraged by the recent killing of George Floyd and violence against black men and women. The subsequent protests have shined a spotlight on the harmful effects of racism and inequality. Furthermore, the public response has highlighted the racial trauma that our black students, families, staff, and communities have not only endured for centuries but continue to face today.
WHEREAS, we must recognize that racism and hate have no place in our schools and society. However, we must understand that racism is systemic, and it is unconsciously and consciously rooted into our institutions, policies, and practices. Consequently, we acknowledge that we must look at our own school policies and practices through an anti-racist and equity lens to address traces of racism and inequity that still exist within our own school community.
WHEREAS, we must center the voices of staff, students, families, and communities who have historically endured discrimination and marginalization. Their lived experiences and stories require attention, require respect, require empathy, and most importantly require action. Therefore, it is essential that we establish an expectation that a diversity of students, families, and community members, specifically those that have been ignored, discriminated against, and marginalized, are heard and included on substantive school and district issues.
WHEREAS, we must better educate ourselves and seek to educate the community on the historical and current impact of racism and discrimination on our students, families, and communities, as well as understand our role in perpetuating such inequity. Through continuous professional development and opportunities for honest dialogue and listening sessions, we hope to build partnerships in the community focused on overcoming racism and other barriers. By doing so, we can create opportunities to ensure that each child has the tools and supports needed to thrive.
WHEREAS, we must advocate to advance civil rights and cultivate an anti-racist school climate necessary to meet the needs of ALL students in our care. Our students, no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language ability, disability, and other identities, deserve to feel safe, to feel seen, and to feel affirmed.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the ______________School Board, unequivocally stand firm in our collective responsibility to foster an equitable and inclusive environment for every student, staff member, parent, and community member. We commit to use our role as school board directors to recognize, respond, and speak out against injustice and racial inequity in our school community. In support of this goal, the __________ School Board commits to the following action steps [List any action steps your district has taken or will take, such as adoption of an equity policy, conducting professional development or an equity audit, or other steps. Delete this final sentence to adopt resolution without].
Adopted this _________________________ day of ______________________, 2020.
Board President Board Secretary