Dear Franklin families,
“For me, this has always been a violent country – it has never been a democracy.”
On Thursday afternoon, I joined other EL Education school leaders to check in and process Wednesday’s events. Our meeting had a profound impact on me. Over the past 7 years, I’ve had the privilege of coming together with this group of passionate, intelligent, thoughtful, and inspiring leaders. I leave every interaction with two thoughts: 1) I am humbled and in awe of their leadership; and 2) I am deeply grateful that leaders like these are guiding our next generation. On Thursday we shared how we were arriving. I was feeling shaken but hopeful – at the end of the day, our institutions had held. But one by one, the Black leaders in our group shared how they were arriving to our meeting. Angry. Sad. Without hope. Disillusioned. One leader spoke movingly about being called to education, believing it could liberate her students, but she has now lost that belief. In the wake of Wednesday’s racist violence, these leaders saw evidence that their work has been in vain. We live in a divided America, and they have lost hope that the inequities will be overcome. Another leader shared the James Baldwin quote above. Their school used this quote in Crew Thursday with the belief that their students need to know their history and the reality of their future. This quote reflects their lived experience today – decades after it was written.
One of the most important components of our mission as a school is helping students become ethical leaders who recognize the value of others. As a predominately White school, we have an undeniable responsibility to call attention to systemic racism and to educate our students on the work needed to create a more equitable society. We are saddened and angered that our community had to witness Wednesday’s attack on democracy. We recognize that the racist and antisemitic nature of the violence deepened the trauma of many in our community and our country.
On Thursday, teachers provided space to discuss and seek to understand the events of the week. This work will continue over the next days and weeks. We will ground our discussions in facts and will practice norms of civil and respectful conversations. It won’t always be perfect. This is hard work. But we will be working toward love and healing, and a more equitable world.
On January 21, I invite you to join me in a Stakeholders’ Meeting, where we will listen to your ideas on specific next steps we can take to help all students in our school achieve at their highest level. This work is connected to our mission and our commitment to equity, and I look forward to partnering with you toward this goal.