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District Global and Cultural Perspectives Statements

Statement from Superintendent Estepp - June 2, 2020

What an incredibly sad time in our country. The racially motivated injustices and crimes that are continuing to occur across the nation are hard to watch, hard to digest and hard to understand.

Just as I can’t understand why events like this keep happening over and over again, I also recognize that I can’t understand what it must feel like as an African American living in our country right now.  This weekend I spent a lot of time reflecting on the privileges that I have taken for granted as a white male living in suburban Ohio. I have never had to fear for my life while jogging through my neighborhood. I have never had the police called on me for a simple walk through the park. I’ve never thought twice about wearing a hoodie.  I could go on and on.  

In light of just too many instances of injustice in recent months, there is now a sense of urgency that we all must share in ending the mistreatment of our fellow citizens. It is crucial that we have conversations with our children about racism, social injustice and privilege. It is important for us as parents to open this dialogue at home, and it is just as important for us as educators to explore ways to discuss these matters in our classrooms.  

In the Mariemont City School District, we have made our stance very clear that we support and encourage all of our students, staff and their families regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other individual characterization. We will not tolerate any acts of hate or exclusion.

We launched the Global and Cultural Perspectives Committee in 2015 and have continued to grow its size and scope of work throughout the last five years, with administrators, staff and community members working together to better our school district.  While I am so proud of how far we have come, I know that we still have a long way to go. As a school district, we will continue to advocate for inclusiveness, kindness and love every day.

I thought deeply about what to write today as I did not want to be perceived as opportunistic, self-promoting or just jumping on the bandwagon of other leaders. However, with the realities that so many are facing each and every day, we have to do better, and I must do my part by speaking up.

Today I am asking our community to join me in taking a stand. It takes courage.  It takes strength. It takes many voices. Let's continue to learn and continue to fight against hatred and racial injustice. Let's continue to make our district the best it can be - a place where every single student, staff member and community member feels safe, seen, heard and loved.

Statement from the Mariemont City Schools Board of Education - June 22, 2020

On behalf of the Mariemont City Schools Board of Education, I would like to open tonight with a statement regarding the racial injustice that exists in our society, and has been spotlighted in ongoing protests and calls to action as a result of Black people losing their lives.  We stand united to speak up and take a stand against racism and injustice.

We, the Board of Education, believe wholeheartedly in the school district’s values: we support and encourage all of our students, staff and families regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other individual characterization, and we will not tolerate any acts of hate or exclusion.

While we stand firm in these beliefs, we understand there is more work to be done to live up to these values and ideals.  We also humbly acknowledge that none of us have ever or will ever experience discrimination based on the color of our skin and therefore will never know the depth of pain that hundreds of years of systemic racism has caused and continues to cause today.  It is our individual and collective obligation to humbly listen to diverse voices, educate ourselves, learn and grow to continue pushing ourselves, our school district, and community to be and do better.

We also recognize this is a journey and process - for each of us individually and the school district as a whole.  Mariemont City Schools created the Global and Cultural Perspectives Committee in 2015 to increase knowledge and understanding of global competency and culturally proficient practices within our schools. I am proud to report this committee has grown in both scope and size over the last five years.  Staff professional development and building-level committees have grown the number of staff members directly involved in this work and created dialogue and training amongst colleagues to find and correct inequitable and insensitive practices within our schools.  

And while this committee is pushing our district into a more culturally proficient space, we know we still have a long way to go.  The work is not complete and our focus on this effort will need to be increased and accelerated.

With that in mind, we will continue to examine all aspects of how the district operates, including curriculum, literature selections and historical lessons of our community, state and nation.  In order for our students to understand the grave implications of racial discrimination and injustice, they must first learn its full history.  Additionally, each of us  will continue to educate ourselves on these topics alongside the district and community, and welcome a dialogue with our community.

In summary, the Board of Education fully supports the Mariemont City School District in its initiative to build an equitable, inclusive and responsive learning community that values the dignity and uniqueness of all students, staff and the community.

Thank you.

Statement from the Mariemont City Schools Principals - June 12, 2020

Mariemont City Schools Families,

We hope that you are staying healthy and safe. Some of you may be planning time away or staying close to home this summer. While we all are thinking about summer plans we continue to see and hear about protests and marches happening locally and across the nation. In Superintendent Estepp’s recent ConnectME blog post, and in many statements being made by other organizations and businesses, we are all being encouraged to come together in unity, to speak up and take a stand against racism and injustice. 

Collectively, we, the four principals of the Mariemont City School District, reach out to you today do just that. We know there is a desire and a need for our children to have important discussions surrounding racism and injustice, and we wish we were together at this time to facilitate this dialogue in our classrooms.

What we are witnessing currently in our communities, cities, states and nation is what is being referred to as two pandemics, the COVID-19 pandemic and a pandemic of racism. As a result of this pandemic of racism, people are coming together to “collectively express their fatigue” according to Bryan Stevenson (Founder & Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative). Fatigue of racism, injustice and oppression; fatigue from the fear of losing your life because of the color of your skin and anger from seeing these instances occur over and over again with seemingly no change. These expressions are being displayed in a variety of ways and hitting close to home. 

Our district’s Global and Cultural Perspectives Committee believes that, in order for us to continue to grow and bring about positive change, we must individually and collectively increase our own knowledge and awareness through self-reflection, reading of articles, digging into resources, reaching out to cultural informants and creating open dialogue with others. 

During a recent radio show titled, “Kojo For Kids,” Author and National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature, Jason Reynolds, talked about “Racism and The Protests”. He conducted a question and answer session with young kids and adults. One 9-year-old girl asked him this question, “How can kids help bring change in this country so that we are all treated fairly and it doesn’t matter what color your skin is?” He responded by suggesting to her that she ask herself everyday even into adulthood, “What am I going to do today to make sure that today we are living in a world that feels more equitable, more peaceful and more fair?”

Right now, many of our students are asking this same question and many households within our school district and throughout our nation are asking the question and wondering how we can take action against racism and make changes that promote equity, peace and fairness. We, too, are asking this question and are committed to doing more.

You may be wondering how you should talk with your children or family about racism, injustice and about the protesting and various expressions that we are seeing and hearing about in the news, on the tv and on various social media platforms. With the help of our district’s Global and Cultural Perspectives Committee we have compiled some resources that we thought you might find helpful.

In addition to the below list of resources, you can view the district Global and Cultural Perspectives webpage on the district website to read more about the Mariemont City School District’s stance on inequality and injustices, learn about the work of the Global and Cultural Perspectives Committee, view the all-staff professional development courses centered around cultural proficiency that the district has facilitated and create a dialogue with the district about these issues.

Collectively, we want to thank you, the Mariemont City Schools community, for standing with us to fight racial inequality and injustice. We know this work will never end, but we are happy to continue learning and growing to build an equitable, inclusive and responsive learning community.
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