A group called LO Change is calling on the Lake Oswego School District School Board to make immediate changes to be a more anti-racist organization. The group of educators is circulating a petition that includes suggested next steps, such as reconsidering the use of school resource officers, conducting a thorough equity audit of curriculum, and funding an equity department. You can read the text of the letter below and sign the petition here. To further support these efforts, you can share the petition with friends, submit letters to the editor to the LO Review, and provide testimony during the next School Board meeting on Jun. 22.
Dear Superintendent Dr. de la Cruz and Members of the School Board,
Thank you for your recent statement expressing outrage over the murder of George Floyd, standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and for committing Lake Oswego School District to move forward as an anti-racist organization.
In this moment of national anger and grief, we believe it’s important to take concrete actions to move our schools forward. We need to do our part for social and racial justice. Our students of color should feel safe, supported, heard and seen as human beings whose lives matter; they must know that we stand with them. In fact, all students’ lives and futures are improved by an anti-racist education. A curriculum bereft of Black lives (and those of other marginalized groups) is a falsehood too long indulged and too dangerous to ignore
We cannot wait until August and the new school year to examine our practices, policies, and curriculum and to enact real change. Specific actions to take now include:
Reconsider the presence of School Resource Officers in school buildings. Examine whether research supports this type of staffing as an effective evidence-based practice. Instead, hire additional counselors and social workers who understand our community, our students, and are skilled in de escalation, and restorative practices.
Require schools to track and report racist incidents in our schools in a way that both complies with privacy laws and increases transparency. Create community oversight board to ensure accountability and review outcomes
Conduct a thorough audit, led by teachers, of our existing curriculum, framed using the Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance.
Then move quickly to bring our K-12 curriculum in line with state laws, including Senate Bill 13 (Tribal History) and the bill on ethnic studies currently in committee, House Bill 284 . Add elective courses, including African-American Studies, that offer additional perspectives on cultures and groups not currently examined in sufficient depth.
Update our approved reading lists to remove dated and stereotypical titles and to add diverse voices. Consider revising policies on board approval to be more flexible and allow teachers to quickly add new titles.
Hire a professor to teach restorative justice practices and to train staff members. Hiring should take place from outside the district to ensure independence and a fresh perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Commit to a multi-year professional development plan around diversity, equity, and inclusion and antiracism. Add a culturally responsive training module to other mandatory staff training at the beginning of each school year.
Initiate an independent investigation to report on the history of racism in Lake Oswego to the present day. Incorporate the findings into our K-12 antiracist curriculum to provide students and teachers with a local perspective on racism in Lake Oswego and Oregon.
Examine district recruitment and hiring policies and practices; ensure that hiring committees are committed to diversity and, trained on bias issues. Support and value our teachers and staff who are people of color.
Fully fund an equity department to carry out these plans and audits. Develop support systems specifically for students and teachers of color.
Reevaluate school policies on choosing vendors/suppliers and pledge to support Black-owned businesses and other companies whose policies on diversity, sustainability, and treatment of employees align with our values as a district.
We know that in the coming months our teachers, staff, students, families and community members will offer additional suggestions about how to move our district closer to its professed values. But too often calls for further input and deliberation result in a lack of action. What we ask from you now is action.
We appreciate these words from your public statement: “[We] wish to express our renewed commitment to our community to affect change.” We must begin our work on that change now.
Signatures collected on Change.Org
Related Readings & Resources:
“Lake No Negro” Documentary - Respond to Racism
Oregon is Now the Only State to Have Required Ethnic Studies Curriculum for K-12 Students
Senate Bill 13: Tribal History/Shared History
Teaching Tolerance: Social Justice Standards
Teaching for Black Lives in a (Mostly) White Classroom
Schools Move to Eliminate Campus Police Officers (see studies - from the Congressional Research Service, for example - showing that SROs )
Research & evidence: "Policing and Middle School: An Evaluation of a Statewide School Resource Officer Policy," “School Resource Officers and Students’ Feelings of Safety at School”
Ethnic studies classes coming to all Portland high schools; Student works to mandate Ethnic Studies class for PPS freshmen
A Root Cause of the Teacher-Diversity Problem: Conversations focus on getting more black educators into the profession—but what if the problem starts with bias in hiring practices?
The Experiences of Teachers of Color: By understanding how Black and Latino teachers can feel devalued, school leaders can more effectively work to retain them