A message from BEA President Sara Schmitt:
Thank you for your work this year, and for never giving up on making a difference for your students – especially now, in this convergence of two significant moments in time. We have been working to provide a new kind of school, and planning for an uncertain future during the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, the nation saw the intentional murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, and national protests have called for an end to anti-Black racism and police brutality. These events have highlighted the importance of our role as educators, and the power that we have to fight for a better future for students in our community.
The BEA Narrative on Public Education states that “our ultimate goal as a union of educators is the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual nourishment of our students.” We cannot achieve this goal without advocating for educators, and we cannot achieve this goal without advocating for racial and social justice. As a predominantly white organization of educators, we need to examine our own educational practices, as well as systemic policies, that harm students and staff. We must evaluate and disrupt the systemic ways that Black and African American students, staff and families are marginalized in our schools and communities.
As a union, this is our responsibility. The BEA Executive Board will be reviewing and revising the BEA Narrative, to be more explicit about our commitment to fighting institutional racism within our schools and our union. The BEA Racial and Social Justice Task Force will meet during the summer to map out specific actions that align with our commitments. We stand in support of our members who are Black and African American, as colleagues, allies and accomplices. We will continue to support and promote Black student-led protests and actions throughout the summer. We support mandatory antiracism, anti-bias training for all staff. We advocate for the recruitment, hiring and attention to retention of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the Beaverton School District. We support the immediate implementation of more culturally responsive curriculum, and improving the cultural competency of all staff. We encourage white educators to be anti-racist, interrupt bias, hold colleagues accountable, and prioritize the safety and well-being of BIPOC colleagues and students. We also encourage white educators to access the list of books, podcasts, and movies that OEA has put together to learn and grow in your understanding of anti-racist allyship, and engage in the work.
I look forward to continuing to work with you all to build a strong union, a strong school district, and a strong community.