When our friends or neighbors are struggling, we show up. We write cards or send flowers/gifts. Depending on the intensity of their challenge, we may crowd source support with a meal sign up or a Go Fund Me page. In 2020, when the world watched the murder of George Floyd, our Black community members were hurting. Many of them shared their experiences with us, and experts shed light on the deep racial disparities that still exist in our country. Marches and pledges of support poured out around the country, including Francis Howell. We marched, and we sang, and we pledged to do better. Our school board issued a resolution as well, called the Resolution in Response to Racism and Discrimination. It states in part:
"We will promote racial healing, especially for our black and brown students and families. We will no longer be silent. We are committed to creating an equitable and anti-racist system that honors and elevates all, but one that also specifically acknowledges the challenges faced by our black and brown students and families."
Sadly, in times of change, there will always be opposition. A group of "concerned parents" opposed the resolution and spoke out firmly against it at board meetings. Soon after, the concerned group formed a Political Action Committee, Francis Howell Families, and in 2021 offered a counter resolution, which they published on their website. Their counter neither acknowledges racism as a specific problem nor mentions the suffering of Black families in that difficult season. Instead, their resolution states in part, "FHSD staff and consultants shall not imply that any racial group is more prone to holding racial prejudice or bias than others." The group then set out to overturn our Board of Education, raising tens of thousands of dollars to advertise candidates also opposed to the resolution.
In April of this year, their successful strategy produced a majority of FHFamilies-supported board members. Just two months later, Vice President of the board, Director Cook, is proposing a policy which would sunset all prior resolutions, including the 2020 resolution in support of Black families. This policy would not require any debate or vote on the resolution itself. Instead, it would "sunset" the resolution, making it and others void, and causing ithe show of support t to be removed from the walls and other buildings of our schools. This wording specifically targets the Resolution in Response to Racism and Discrimination, which is the only resolution on display in FHSD buildings. (Please see the timeline below.)
At the June Board of Education meeting, several patrons (including the president of the teachers' organization, FHEA) spoke out against the policy and in support of the 2020 resolution. Their full comments can be seen in the videos at the bottom of this post.
Please use your voice and speak out against this policy! We have included the emails of all seven board members below, as well as some suggested wording.
Dear FHSD Board of Directors,
Policies and laws may be binding, but they do not communicate our support for our friends/ neighbors. I ask that you vote NO on this policy and preserve the Resolution in Response to Racism and Discrimination. Our family supports our Black community, and we do not want this important gesture to be withdrawn.