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Anti-Racist Activism within the Andover Public Schools
Recent episodes of racial violence—particularly those committed by persons in authority—have left us shaken to the core and searching for meaningful ways to confront racism and foster social justice to make our world a better place for all.
In the Andover Public Schools, our teachers, students, staff, administrators, and School Committee members are not immune to the trauma that is unfolding around us. Even as we strive to focus on our primary responsibilities of teaching and learning, we are discussing the painful implications of these shocking events—and we are pondering the conversations we need to have within our own community.
As a district, we must acknowledge that the racism and prejudice that often occur in subtle and institutional forms are now exposed and explicit. The recent deaths of multiple Black and Brown people at the hands of police and vigilantes are a stark reminder that America’s long history of racism and intolerance still bears fruit today and must be confronted and addressed.
This concern is not a new one for the Andover Public Schools. Recognizing the impact that racism has on all students and staff, we have taken a number of steps over the past five years to broaden our professional development, our curriculum, and our school culture in ways that highlight the value of diversity. Now is an appropriate time to reiterate how the district steadfastly works to ensure identity-safe schools for all students and staff.
In the area of curriculum:
In the area of co-curricular activities:
In the area of professional development:
In the area of policy:
These steps are some of the many that we have taken and continue to take to ensure that all students and staff know that they have many allies within the Andover Public Schools. Our work will never be finished. The roots of racism and prejudice spring from the depths of America’s history and its tentacles have spread throughout our society.
We acknowledge, with profound regret, that several incidents of overt racism and prejudice have occurred within our district in the past few years. In each case, we have acted swiftly and decisively to ensure that appropriate disciplinary actions were taken. However, disciplining those who violate the basic tenet of respect for others is by itself insufficient; we must seize these incidents as opportunities to audit the behavior and our response to it and then to initiate difficult and productive conversations with all in our community. We must continue to be vigilant and to address even the most subtle words or gestures that could make a student or staff member feel unwelcome or threatened.
Will these actions be enough? By themselves, no, because racism and prejudice are insidious and will continue to seek ways to invade the spaces where we live and learn. But together, our collective actions can stand up to the evils of racism and prejudice and can stamp them out wherever and whenever they make an appearance.
There is much work to be done. It will require having the courage to look below the surface and expose the drivers of institutional racism within our own system. Those drivers include curricula that are not accessible and representative, along with disproportionality rates and opportunity gaps that persist despite our past and present efforts and resources. The ways in which we use the current situation as an opportunity to uncover the biases within ourselves and each other that allow these institutional prejudices to operate will define us in the future.
We appreciate the support of all parents and community members as the Andover Public Schools takes a strong public stand against systemic racism and prejudice in all of its ugly forms. Together, we—along with our students who are learning these life lessons—can be the change.
Andover School Committee
School Committee Policies
AB – The People and Their School District: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/browse/andoverset/andover/AB
AC – Nondiscrimination and Harassment Prevention: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/AC
AC-R – Nondiscrimination and Harassment Prevention; https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/AC-R
ACA – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/ACA
ACAB – Sexual Harassment: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/ACAB
ACE – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/ACE
GBA – Equal Employment Opportunity: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/GBA
JB – Equal Educational Opportunities: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/JB
JBB- Educational Equity Policy: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/JBB
JICFB – Bullying Prevention: https://z2policy.ctspublish.com/masc/browse/andoverset/andover/JICFB