Black Lives Matter Week at School is February 1st – 5th. Click here for resources.
Our union stands firmly in support of our BIPOC colleagues who are leading critical ABAR work in the Beaverton School District. We believe their words, their lived experiences, and support their passionate calls to action. Here is my statement to district leaders at the School Board meeting last night:
As schools and other institutions across the nation grappled with how to address the pervasive issue of systemic and institutional racism, educators in BSD developed and facilitated an anti-racism workshop for all staff. This past week, months after that workshop took place, comments made by educators were taken completely out of context and were contorted by the national media to be used as part of a larger cultural battle that is taking place in cities and states throughout the country. Rather than leaning into the equity work and acknowledging that every single staff member in BSD has an official role in the equity efforts of our district, Beaverton School District leadership instead chose to distance themselves from their own employees and from the equity training that all district educators attended.
Our member-educators are disturbed by the impact of this incident. We have members who are feeling invalidated, angry, disappointed, hurt, afraid, and some have become the targets of vitriol and threats from people they’ve never met.
The foundation of equity work is love. We do equity work because we care deeply about our students and our community. We need to do this work. We need district leaders to stand with educators who are working to make our school district a safe and welcoming place for our students. We need to thoughtfully and intentionally create spaces where students and educators can be vulnerable and have important conversations. We need BSD to plainly tell, and show, those in our community who seek to undermine our critical anti-racism and anti-bias work that we are undeterred.
The Beaverton Education Association stands with educators who are boldly undertaking this difficult work. We will not allow educators to be intimidated into silence, and we will not stand idly by while this critically important work is attacked in the public square. If we are serious about our commitment to supporting and honoring our students and staff of color, this moment must not go unanswered. BEA members are vocally reaffirming our dedication to making our schools a safe and welcoming space for everyone, and it’s time for BSD leaders to do the same.
Sara Schmitt | she/her/hers
Whereas, the Beaverton Education Association is committed to racial and social justice and serves to protect and affirm the rights of all members, students, families and community members, regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, immigration status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, ability, and other identities.
Whereas, white supremacist culture and the oppression of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals and communities have existed in America for as long as America has existed.
Whereas, white supremacist culture, anti-Black racism, and oppression of BIPOC individuals and communities continue to exist in all facets of modern-day America, as evidenced by disparities in healthcare, income, housing, policing, incarceration, employment, and education. These disparities are the result of white supremacy, which is “the systemic and historical privileging of White’s collective interests, accomplishments, values, [and] beliefs” (Hayes, C., & Juárez, B., 2012, pg. 2). Until racist policies, structures, and practices are dismantled and replaced, our historically marginalized communities will continue to be oppressed.
Whereas, though we have engaged in equity work as an association, we must continue to critically self-examine how white supremacy continues to operate through us by specifically committing to antiracist work.
Whereas, as a union, we cannot be silent about the existence of racism and white supremacy. We recognize that policies and practices that benefit our BIPOC, Latinx, immigrant, refugee, and multilingual communities will benefit everyone.
RESOLVED that the Beaverton Education Association unequivocally affirms that Black lives matter in that white supremacy has served and continues to deny the full participation of Black people in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
RESOLVED that, in order to become an antiracist organization, we claim responsibility for the ways we’ve perpetuated racism in our time, in our space, and in our community and commit to making changes that reflect our desired goal of becoming an antiracist organization.
RESOLVED that we affirm our BIPOC staff by elevating and centering historically marginalized BIPOC perspectives and needs in our collective decision-making and actions.
RESOLVED, that we will continue the consistent work of self-reflection, organizational reflection and accountability as we take antiracist collective action.
RESOLVED that we will work to hold the Beaverton School District leadership accountable to their commitments to antiracism and educational equity. Our antiracist work as an association must include actively dismantling racist policies in our district.
RESOLVED that we will partner with community organizations who are working to dismantle systemically racist practices and policies within other institutions in the Beaverton community.
Adopted by the Executive Board of the Beaverton Education Association on this day, Monday, October 19, 2020.
References Hayes, C., & Juárez, B. (2012), pg. 2. There is no culturally responsive teaching spoken here: A critical race perspective. Democracy and Education, 20(1), 1.
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.