BY KATHERINE GOLUB,
REPRESENTING FIVE GROUPS
In early June, the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others sparked a worldwide uprising. Over one thousand of our neighbors took to the streets of Greenfield to make it known, once and for all, that Black lives matter. In response, the Greenfield School Committee announced that it would form an ad hoc committee to address racial justice in the schools. Chief Haigh and Mayor Wedergartner announced they would eliminate the School Resource Officer (SRO) position from the high school, which left funding for the position to be reallocated.
The School Committee has not yet taken further action since June to form the subcommittee or decide how to reallocate funding originally allocated to the School Resource Officer position. Given the monumental feat of reopening our schools virtually amid the pandemic, it is understandable that these topics have been put on the back burner for the last few months. However, racism is also a public health pandemic that cannot remain on the back burner. According to the School Committee, some school staff have participated in professional development over the summer. More needs to be done.
We are aware of the district’s financial challenges. The funds for the School Resource Officer position are still available.
We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Greenfield School Committee to finally take action and do more to ensure racial equity and justice in our schools. Specifically, we ask each School Committee member to vote “Yes!” on the following items:
1. Reallocate the funding that was dedicated to the School Resource Officer to programs designed to meet the needs of students of color and create an atmosphere of equity and justice within our schools. One such program is Community Action Family Center’s Stand Up!, whose Standing Together Against Racism (STAR) workshop series will support students and teachers at Greenfield High School to deal forthrightly with racial equity issues and promote a school climate that does not tolerate racism.
2. Form a subcommittee to address issues of racial justice and equity in the schools. This subcommittee would not merely issue a statement saying that racial justice is important. Words are not enough. Rather, this subcommittee would listen to the community, research the issues disproportionately affecting kids of color, and propose actionable solutions to the entire School Committee.
The School Committee has the critical role of setting policy. We urge the School Committee to take this step toward owning their responsibility to set policies that contribute to racial justice in the schools.
School Committee Chair Amy Prioretti committed to putting these issues on the agenda of the next School Committee meeting, which will occur on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Greenfield residents who wish to give public comment can go to this link to find call-in information: www.gpsk12.org/gps-district/ committee-meetings.
It is time that the Greenfield School Committee does more to create a just and inclusive environment for all students, especially students of color. We urge each and every School Committee member to vote “Yes!” on these important issues.
Katherine Golub, a Greenfield resident, submitted this my turn on behalf of these organizations: Geernfield Racial Justice; Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution; eening Gr Greenfield; Traprock Center for Peace & Justice; and Racial Justice Rising.
Saturday, 10/10/2020 Page .A04
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