Dear Ferndale Family,
This week, as our country continued to struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, we were once again reminded about the systemic divide that exists within our country. Just a week ago we did not know the names George Floyd and Christian Cooper, yet today their names have become a call to action to everyone who stands against the gross injustices that Black Americans face every day in this country.
On Monday, May 25, 2020, George Floyd was detained by the police. He had been handcuffed and placed chest down on the ground when a white officer pinned his knee on the back of Mr. Floyd's neck for at least 8 minutes. Despite Mr. Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe and that he was under medical distress, the officer continued to pin him down in a manner that is completely inconsistent with accepted standards of policing. Even with bystanders urging the officer to let him up and knowing that they were videotaping the interaction, the officer did not relent.
On the same day, in New York City, Christian Cooper, a Black man, was enjoying a day of bird watching in Central Park when a white women walking her dog off of it's leash approached him. When Mr. Cooper asked the women to please follow the protocols of Central Park and place a leash on her dog, the women became furious. Mr. Cooper began to record the interaction with his phone when the woman called 911 , stating, “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life!”
George Floyd’s life was stolen from him. Christian Cooper had his skin color used against him as a weapon. These incidents remind us of the importance of our continued discussions with our students about implicit bias and systemic racism.
One of the many reasons I am proud to lead Ferndale Schools is our focus on addressing these challenging topics head on. In our recently adopted Strategic Plan, Ferndale Schools created an equity driven vision statement.
"At Ferndale Public Schools, we are a school family of continual learners. We support each and every student to develop their purpose, plan, and passion. We encourage and honor dialogue about the histories, cultures, and goals of our communities. We actively and intentionally facilitate equitable access and representation, meaningful participation, and high expectations for ALL."
It is times like this where we need to come together as a community and a country. We need to support everyone in our community to ensure their equitable access to everything our amazing country has to offer. I do not believe that I am alone this week in feeling the very fabric that binds us together as a nation beginning to fray. It is now incumbent on all of us to come together to continue to create the community we want for all of our students. As the class of 2020 readies to depart Ferndale Schools it reminds us all to recommit to the most fundamental mission all educators have, to impart in our students the wisdom to create the world we want to live in.
I realize this is a very tough topic to discuss with your student. Below you will find some resources I have selected that I hope will assist you in this important conversation.