NJPSA Statement on Racism, Social Injustice, and Dialogue

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The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association joins the nation in condemning the abhorrent, criminal actions of Derek Chauvin and accomplices that took the life of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It is unfathomable that here we are, well into the 21st Century, and racism in the United States still remains so prevalent, so deep, and so challenging to overcome.

The protests expressing outrage and anger that have followed throughout the nation are an important step toward the necessary changes we seek in our democracy. To the vast majority of these protesters who have done so peacefully and vigorously, we applaud you and appreciate what you are doing to give voice to our common sense of fury. To the many police officers who have joined in the peaceful protests in support, we thank you for your solidarity, sense of justice, and strength. At the same time, we are saddened to see the footage of so much unlawful rioting and looting in our cities, which serves to undermine the true message of a nation that wants justice and equity. When does it all stop?

As educators, it is not only our job, but our responsibility to take an active role in the process. First, we need to open our hearts and truly listen to what all people are saying and feeling. We need to take that feedback and turn it into action that can serve as a pathway to a better tomorrow, a tomorrow where we walk together, celebrate each other, and truly value the diversity that makes us such a rich community.

Today, we are hurting. As an organization, we know that there are many of you who feel the pain of discrimination and social injustice much more directly, internally, and deeply than others. To those NJPSA members and to those students, parents, and educators, the leadership and staff of NJPSA want you to know that we stand with you. While some of us may not understand the depth of these wounds, we seek the same remedy, and we vow to fulfill our obligation to do our part to create a better New Jersey.

At NJPSA, we are focused on equity in schools, cultural diversity, and restorative justice. Much of the professional learning we have offered over the past several years has dealt with these subjects, and we will continue to provide even more opportunities this year. Certainly, we affirm our commitment to diversity and equity, but I believe it is important, especially at a time like this, to reflect and ask ourselves what more can we do? What can we do better? The first step must be to listen. Therefore, we are announcing the following opportunities to foster dialogue and communication.

1. We will hold a webinar on Friday, June 12 from 10 am to 11:30 am, Racial Justice and Our Schools: A Blueprint for Action. LEGAL ONE Director David Nash, George Guy, Jr., George Scott, and other speakers to be announced soon will lead the webinar to provide an overview of key legal principles and best practices related to addressing issues of racial justice, and provide participants with resources to effectively address this complex issue. Participants will also gain an understanding of the profound emotional harm that this horrific incident may have on students, parents and staff, and receive guidance on addressing the need to provide immediate and ongoing mental health support for those in need. Finally, participants will receive tools and strategies for facilitating meaningful dialogue and promoting responsible civic engagement. Register here.

2. We are focusing the 2020-2021 New Jersey Leadership Academy on the issue of Equity. The three strands of professional learning in NJLA this year will be Equity and Change, Climate and Culture for Adults and Students, and Culturally Responsive Teaching. Information on registering for NJLA will be available soon.

3. We will devote even more professional learning opportunities to these topics in the summer and fall FEA calendars. 

4. We invite and encourage you to share your thoughts and feelings with your colleagues on the Leadership Connection. Perhaps together, we can find even better ways to promote healing and move forward to the future that we all want.

Finally, we must acknowledge that this issue has come to the forefront during the unprecedented time of COVID-19 and distance learning. We must remember how our students are feeling, especially as we do not see them in person in the classroom. We need to give all our students the opportunity to express their feelings and promote that critical student voice, despite the efforts of others who seek to suppress it. 

Thank you to all of our members for joining with me in condemning the racism that threatens to tear us apart. Thank you for your commitment to listening, understanding, and actively engaging in the necessary dialogue that will promote a better tomorrow. Finally, thank you for everything you are doing to educate our children and build a positive climate and culture during these difficult times of both COVID-19 and the nationwide protests.