At Fairview High School, we have been consumed in recent days and weeks with long meetings and discussions about the various approaches to the re-opening of school in the fall that will keep our students, teachers, staff, and community safe while also meeting academic and learning needs. Simultaneously, the sea change of policies and mindsets resulting from the murder of George Floyd has swept across our nation.
The relative limited racial diversity of Fairview High School does not make conversations about systemic racism and privilege less important or unnecessary; instead, understanding privilege, how to wield it for good, and using this understanding to ensure that Fairview High School is anti-racist has never been more important.
Our mission and vision as a district and building, with their language about embracing diversity and acts of service, function as the foundation from which we will re-evaluate what we do and reflect upon how/why we do it. As we head toward the 2020-2021 school year, we will begin with the following to ensure a just, safe, and fair learning space for all:
- Every summer, we take the student handbook to the school board for approval of changes. This year, similar to the United States Marine Corps, we will add dress code language forbidding the display of the confederate flag. This modern-day symbol of white nationalism and a failed insurrection has only, in the words of Marine Commandant General David H. Berger, the “power to inflame division” rather than support the unifying, anti-racist culture at Fairview High School. Well, he wasn’t specifically referring to Fairview High School, but I am.
- We will focus our 2020-2021 building goals/themes on the ways in which we can center all decisions and actions on how to make the school and community a better place for those around us. Much of what we do already focuses on individual growth, but our mission’s focus on service calls us to consider how our actions affect others and what we can do to help those not benefitting from privileges equally.
- We will revisit and re-evaluate building practices, and mindsets that may lead to inequity and racial bias. We pride ourselves on equal access to learning, and anything that serves as an obstacle to that goal needs to be identified and removed.
I’m not naive enough to see these steps as comprehensive solutions–they are merely first steps. However, they are a start, and we will control what we can control as we continue to create an anti-racist culture both within the walls of Fairview High School and beyond.