We Must Believe, Engage, and Change. Please.

Hi Friends,
I’m focusing this weekly update on two important items from this week that I want to share with you. I have some other bigger updates to share, but I’ll do so in separate emails.
On October 12, a white police officer murdered Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth, Texas. Two op-eds in the Washington Post, one by Will Jawando and one by Eugene Robinson, help us interpret what this means, why it happened, and what needs to happen next. Nikkolas Smith, an artist based in Houston, painted a tribute to her. I know this is painful content, but please engage with it, sit with it, believe that this is a single example of a systemic, national problem (that yes, even exists in Arlington). Allow your tears and that heartsick feeling to be with you, never to really leave you. Let this change you. Find a way to use your privilege to speak up about this problem because people are literally dying until we make change happen. Please.
Related to school integration, the Washington Post had an extensive article about Shaker Heights, OH as a “model” integrated community still experiencing achievement gaps along racial lines: “But the story of Shaker Heights shows how moving kids of different races into the same building isn’t the same as producing equal outcomes. A persistent and yawning achievement gap has led the district to grapple with hard questions of implicit bias, family responsibility and the wisdom of tracking students by ability level. Last school year, 68 percent of white 11th-graders were enrolled in at least one AP or IB course, but just 12 percent of black students were.” This doesn’t mean that integration is a failure. It means that even if we take the steps necessary to balance Arlington’s demographics among our schools, we will still have significant work to do within each school. It still takes addressing individual biases. It still means addressing disparities in gifted programs and advanced courses. It still means addressing disparities in discipline. It still means striving for equity for each and every one of our students. There are no boxes to check here. Improving educational experiences for our students requires a long-term, sustained effort with community buy-in.
We’re in this for the long-haul, friends. There are no quick fixes. The work may never end. It just gets a little lighter as each of us does our part, each and every day, to take the steps together toward a better world. Please join me and continue the work.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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