As representatives of the Essex/Westford House delegation, we stand together in unified, wholehearted support of the Essex Westford School District administration, staff and school board for their ongoing commitment and work towards creating more equitable, inclusive, welcoming learning environments for all Essex students.
Specifically, we support the EWSD community in its work related to the Equity and Continuous Improvement Plans that were designed with robust student, staff and community input. Unfortunately, these plans are receiving targeted pushback from some residents who are perpetuating misinformation and inaccurate facts.
The sad reality is that not all of our children grow and thrive in our present public school system. When the data is examined, it's clear that there are barriers for some students in reaching their goals based on certain characteristics. For example, it's apparent that many students who are eligible for special education, live with financial hardship, are LGBTQ+, are Black and Brown, or do not speak English are repeatedly navigating difficult, sometimes traumatic experiences and therefore, not achieving their academic and personal potential.
As a school district funded with significant public dollars, we have a collective responsibility and a civil rights mandate to ensure that we take a hard look at our systems, programs, curriculums and anything else that stands in the way of ensuring equitable experiences and outcomes for all students.
We see the presence of discrimination, bias and structural racism in the foundations of many of our institutions, organizations and programs. It is healthy and courageous to take a hard look at the ways in which "we have done business" that have limited the opportunity of our neighbors who have told us they experience marginalization on a recurring basis.
As we reside in the second whitest state in the country, we cannot not have blindspots and implicit biases that guide our actions. It is the fair and responsible thing to examine these biases carefully and become humble students again in our learning about how to fashion communities that are more racially and socially equitable for everyone.
In the legislature this session, we began similar work in this regard. J.R.H.6. declared racism a public health emergency with the strong support of our Vermont Commissioner of Health.
In J.R.H.2, we as a body formally apologized for the sanctioning and supporting of eugenics policies and practices that impacted so many Vermonters over generations (with more actionable follow-up to come).
In H.210, we have begun to address health inequities related to illness, access to health care, mental health and more, as the data indicates that significant disparities exist across the Green Mountain State based on race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status.
In H.159, we allocated funds for the creation of a minority business development center.
In the state budget, we granted the Office of Racial Equity two more positions as their workload has become untenable. And we have so so so much more work to do as a state.
Please join us in using your voices towards the creation of a more racially and socially just Essex community. Trust that our educators are taking extraordinary care of our children and have their best interests at heart - and use your voices to say so.
To learn more, attend EWSD's Equity Education Session on Tuesday, June 8, 6-7:30 pm; you can register here: https://bit.ly/2TrHtSR. Or join our next Community Conversation, Sunday, June 13, 2-3:30 pm.
Rep. Marybeth Redmond, email@example.com, Chittenden 8-1
Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, firstname.lastname@example.org, Chittenden 8-1
Rep. Karen Dolan, email@example.com, Chittenden 8-2
Rep. Lori Houghton, firstname.lastname@example.org, Chittenden 8-2
Rep. Alyssa Black, a email@example.com, Chittenden 8-3