June 23, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
The Hingham School Committee has joined other communities in the state in supporting a statewide anti-racism resolution calling in part for schools to create a "welcoming community for ALL students" and for each district to provide annual professional development on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as to commit to recruiting and retaining a diverse teaching staff.
The resolution was initiated by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
Member Kerry Ni, who introduced the resolution to the Hingham School Committee for their signatures, said the statement "fits nicely with Hingham Public Schools' Equity and Inclusion Working Group," which is charged with developing an Equity and Inclusion Plan.
Ni emphasized the importance of HPS striving to keep all students at the center of all decision-making and "to examine our own biases and makes changes when needed.
"We want to set up all of our students for success, including students of color," she said.
Ni went on to say that the HPS administration "has actively tried to hire people of color. It's not enough to ensure that our policies [are inclusive]. We need to address the white elephant in the room and have these difficult conversations and to gain an understanding of people of color and people of different backgrounds and experiences."
School Committee Chair Michelle Ayer called the resolution "an important statement that needs to be followed up with action."
After sharing the content of the proposed resolution with HPS administrators before last night's teleconference committee meeting, Supt. of Schools Paul Austin said their support was overwhelming.
He also emphasized that the Equity and Inclusion Working Group "is active, with a lot of good work already being done around the curriculum."
Austin applauded the work school officials had already accomplished along these lines before he accepted the superintendent role and continuing throughout the current school year and into the future.
"We need to hold ourselves accountable to make sure we are meeting the criteria set forth to combat racism in our schools and in the community," Ayer said. "We need to show our students that the world looks very different from what it's like in Hingham and to prepare them for that."
Below is the resolution in its entirety:
HINGHAM SCHOOL COMMITTEE ANTI-RACISM RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, as schools have the responsibility to equip students with their civil right of obtaining a free and appropriate public education, it is the responsibility of each school to ensure we create a welcoming community for ALL students; and
WHEREAS, it is the responsibility that every district provide to all district staff, including School Committee members, annual professional development on diversity, equity and inclusion; and
WHEREAS, every district will commit to recruiting and retaining a diverse and culturally responsive teaching workforce; and
WHEREAS, every district will examine their policies for institutional and systemic racialized practices and implement change with sustainable policies that are evidence based; and
WHEREAS, every district will incorporate into their curriculum the history of racial oppression and works by black authors and works from diverse perspectives; and
WHEREAS, we as school district leaders can no longer remain silent to the issues of racism and hate that continue to plague our public and private institutions;
RESOLVED: that Hingham Public Schools and all the school districts in the Commonwealth must guarantee that racist practices are eradicated, and diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded and practiced for our students, families, faculty and staff.
We must ensure our own school culture and that of every district in the Commonwealth is antiracist, that acknowledges that all lives cannot matter until black lives matter.