WILMINGTON, MA — At their meeting last week, the Wilmington School Committee unanimously adopted an Anti-Racism Resolution promoted by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
The resolution reads as follows:
WHEREAS, as schools have the responsibility to equip students with their civil right of obtaining a free and appropriate 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 practice institutions;
RESOLVED: that Wilmington Public Schools and all the school districts in the Commonwealth must guarantee that racist practices are eradicated, and diversity, equity, and inclusion is embedded and practices for our students, families, faculty and staff.
We must ensure our school culture and that of every district in the Commonwealth is anti-racist, that acknowledges that all lives cannot matter until black lives matter.
“I’m very much in favor of the resolution. I love the way it’s worded. It’s on point,” said School Committee Chair Jennifer Bryson. “As a committee member, I’d very much like to show my commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in our district.”
“I’m 100% behind this. This is a very important, strong move for us as a committee to take,” agreed School Committee member Jay Samaha. “It really calls for some tough thinking around what Wilmington does in terms of its curriculum and its hiring practices… We need to use this time in history to really move the district forward in terms of being an anti-racist district that’s going to value and include everybody.”
“Has the district looked at our practices through an anti-racist lens? What would that mean and entail? We really need to be thinking about that,” continued Samaha. “If we pass this, I’m going to push for a lot of this stuff to be followed. Not just going to sign off on it. We need to be held to this if we do pass it. I love Wilmington, but I think Wilmington hasn’t always been the most inclusive place. I think we need to acknowledge that and work towards eradicating practices that we might not even realize are racist.”
Bryson said the School Committee can consider establishing an “Equity Subcommittee” to address some of these issues at its next meeting.
School Committee members MJ Byrnes and Jesse Fennelly, who serve as the Committee’s legislative delegates, will be sending the resolution to the Wilmington Board of Selectmen, State Representatives Dave Robertson and Ken Gordon, State Senator Bruce Tarr, and Governor Charlie Baker.
Earlier in the meeting, the Wilmington School Committee unanimously accepted an anonymous donation of $500 to the school’s libraries to purchase age appropriate materials that focus on the history of civil rights in America and promote the understanding of the diverse cultures represented in the community.
“The donors hope that the donation will complement Wilmington Public Schools’ efforts to educate students on historic racial and social inequities and encourage them to work to build a just and tolerant society,” said Bryson.
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