In 2019, LCPS engaged in a process to learn more about how racial equity (or inequity) is experienced by students, teachers, and staff within the system. A copy of this findings of this report can (and should) be read here.
One of the key findings was this: “Despite efforts from the division, school site staff, specifically principals and teachers, indicate a low level of racial consciousness and racial literacy. People are unclear and fearful on how to participate in conversations about race, let alone respond to racially charged incidents.”
Many minority families reported instances of white students and adults using racial slurs in LCPS schools, during LCPS classes. Many also reported a lack of response from teachers and administrators when these slurs were overheard and reported. This is unacceptable and the LCPS administration and LCPS School Board have been doing the hard work of addressing these deficiencies within our system.
During the first week of school, several instances of students joining the virtual classes and using racial slurs or displaying inappropriate sexual or racist images occurred. Not only are these acts against the Student Code of Conduct but are also virtual examples of the actions that minority students and adults experience in-person in LCPS schools.
Talking about racist incidents is the only way to learn, move forward, and work toward creating an environment where everyone knows that these types of slurs and incidents are unacceptable.
Dr. Williams addressed this in his email to families on 9/11/2020. Teachers play a key role in recognizing and responding appropriately to racial incidents within the school community. LCPS has created a Protocol for Responding to Racial Slurs and Hate Speech and is following this in addressing the incidents that occurred during the first week of school.
The Hunt District PTA appreciates the teachers, staff and administrators for learning about and utilizing this protocol to make our schools a safe community for all. Just because a person (student or adult) has not experienced hate speech or racist incidents at school does not mean they do not happen – our own experiences are not the ONLY experiences that occur. We encourage parents, teachers, staff and students to take the time to read about the experiences of minority students within LCPS schools (see report above), utilize the LCPS Protocol, and become advocates for creating a safe community for all by speaking out against racial slurs, taking action when appropriate, and not allowing racist incidents to pass by without addressing them, however uncomfortable you may feel. Parents, teachers, and students all play a vital role in the process of creating racial equity within LCPS.
Resources for talking about race and racism can be found in many places; here are a few to get started:
-Anti-Racism Resources for All Ages
-National Museum of African American History & Culture: Talking About Race
Equity in distance learning (DL) has been a much-discussed topic recently. DL takes many resources: reliable internet, appropriate technology, and for many children, adults who are able to help. Technology considerations are only one of the concerns; access to school supplies, reading material, and food are others that LCPS and Loudoun County are working hard to solve. PTAs have a place in the web of solving DL issues. One way is by disseminating information to your local parents. This disseminating can be done through paper flyers, emails, websites, and facebook. Taking advantage of your PTA’s publicity streams and help get the word out about supports that the county and local non-profits are providing!
When thinking about this information distribution, please consider language access. Making sure families can access information in their home language is very important. PTAs using their local school’s LCPS page have the Google translate widget imbedded in the page. This widget is also available for PTA websites run on MemberHub, PTBoard and can be added to any page on other types of platforms. If you school has a high number of families who speak English as a second language consider working with your principal to provide professionally translated materials through LCPS, in as many forms as possible.
The Hunt District is ready and willing to help PTAs support equity in distance learning this year! Ideas could include school supply distribution, book distribution, etc. If you have an idea or questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to help!