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Superintendent Statement on Inclusion
Posted June 2020
We find ourselves in one of the most traumatic, uncertain and challenging times in recent memory.
In March, we found our lives abruptly interrupted with the onset of COVID-19. With the closure of schools and the order from the Governor to shelter in place, life as we knew it changed. We were robbed of the opportunity to properly say goodbye to each other for the summer, and were unable to enjoy the many traditional end of year celebrations.
It has been a long few months, and just as our communities were beginning to emerge from stay in place and reopen their doors, our nation has exploded in a wave of civil unrest. The most recent horrific acts of racist violence against Black citizens are heartbreaking and a painful reminder of the unceasing ways institutional racism, economic injustice, and other systemic inequities deny the fundamental civil liberties and human rights of Black people and communities. We at Kyrene stand with the individuals and communities who are less safe physically, emotionally, and economically due to the effects of racism, exacerbated by the disproportionate effects of COVID during this brutal time. It is incumbent upon us all to act in a manner that prioritizes equity and seeks to understand and eradiate racism. As we navigate opening contingencies and distance learning, the long overdue work of systemic transformation will be harder than ever.
Alongside this distressing reality, we feel optimistic that people are moved to act more than ever right now. We, as education leaders, have the potential to create conditions that will connect staff to their common humanity and transform opportunities for marginalized populations of all races, creeds and backgrounds. The heart of our work is about equipping leaders to inspire others towards building systems that truly work for every student. Research shows lasting change is more possible when leaders insist upon a high-quality learning experience for each student. The time is now for bold leadership to inspire and seed new practices this year that will be critical to the lasting change we must all demand of ourselves, our organizations and the institution of public education.
In this time of uncertainty, it's easy to lose sight of our mission and our vision for Kyrene. I and my administrative team have been working around the clock the past few weeks, grappling with the challenge of developing a plan to return to the classroom, the outline of which we just presented to the Board and the community in the special session. In that work, we have been mindful of our responsibility and commitment to address the needs of ALL of our students in Kyrene, and we have stayed true to our core values which reflect the basic principles of equity and inclusion. Kyrene remains committed to the work in addressing equity and inclusion in our schools and I am thankful to our Governing Board for their unwavering commitment. We intend to continue that work once we have settled back into a new school year, with the goal of moving forward in closing the gaps in achievement, discipline and opportunity.
Herbert Humphrey said, "Equality means equality for all--no exceptions, no 'yes, buts'; no asterisked footnotes imposing limits." As we create a new normal for teaching and learning in Kyrene, we will do our very best to ensure that every student in Kyrene has the support they need to realize their full potential, no 'yes, buts', no asterisks, no limits.
Jan Vesely, Ed.D.