Posted: June 8, 2020

A continued focus on equity, 6/9/20

Over the past several weeks, we have witnessed unrest as we collectively struggle with our past, the present, and who we want to become. Emotions like fear, worry, and anger are very real because of the uncertainty in how we can all move forward. The preventable deaths of George Floyd and countless others expose our country’s struggle to reconcile the history of slavery and a legacy of racism and oppression.

To our students, families, and staff of color, I want to let you know that we see you and are so glad that you are here in our community. We are listening to you. We hear the frustration and pain in what you share with us. Thank you for sharing with us. We are committed to increasing our efforts to eradicate racism, bias, and inequity in our system and community.

We are driven to see and serve EACH of the students we are blessed to have in our schools. We recognize that our systems in public schools have perpetuated inequity. We recognize that we need to continue to dismantle those kinds of systems.

Sometimes when we’ve talked about equity, people have asked me “why are you bringing that up here in Camas?” “We have a great community where everyone cares about each other.”

I agree we do have much to celebrate in our community. I also suspect that people from other communities across our country have asked similar questions. The reality is that like other communities, we have work to do.

One of the most powerful things we can do as educators is to listen to our students. And when we listen, students sometimes tell us things that are difficult to hear. They tell us they’re scared. They tell us they endure racist comments. They tell us that they are looked at differently. They tell us they feel alone, and that they sometimes don’t feel like they belong.

We believe that if any student feels that way, then we have to challenge ourselves to do better. Our district equity policy states, “we believe the entire community benefits when every child succeeds: therefore we have a collective responsibility and require accountability to ensure that children of every race, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status, socio-emotional well-being, and ability reach their full potential.” We won’t relent in our pursuit of a just educational system. We want to create experiences and outcomes that validate and affirm each and every student. We want each of our students to become expert learners and compassionate leaders in our community.

Over the past several years our equity committee, composed of students, families, staff, and community members has met to discuss challenges and opportunities in our system and ways to bring people together. The committee has poured their collective effort into a shared resource for the community, our equity website. The website also includes ways that you can get involved and share your perspective as we work together to ensure each student can become that expert learner and compassionate leader we all want. We are proud to be able to share this resource with you on their behalf.

Thank you for taking care of each other and our students,

Jeff Snell, Ed.D, Superintendent
Camas School District