The following was read at the last Framingham School Committee meeting, and submitted to Source for publication:
FFREE (Framingham Families for Racial Equity in Education) is a group of parents with a mission to achieve racial equity across the Framingham Public School system including hiring and retention of teachers, staff and administrators; professional development; curriculum and instruction; and district policy and procedures. We seek to empower families across the Framingham Public School system to drive systemic change for better and equitable education
for all children.
Currently, We represent parents from BLOCKS, Hemenway, King, Stapleton, Potter, Barbieri, Cameron, and Walsh.
The Framingham Strategic Plan draft states that the district seeks to address inequities, including racism, in the system. Racism is a system of advantage based on a socially constructed concept of race.
The strategic plan draft also states that as a district “we are committed to creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students, respecting human differences, and having a teacher population that mirrors our student population.” that “our diversity is our strength”.
So why should I, a white, cisgender woman, care about this? As white parents, it is especially important to educate ourselves, our children, and our community. White people need to do the work and fight to make this a priority. We have the responsibility to understand what it means to “create a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students”. We need to make sure our white parents and children know what it means and looks like to “respect human differences”. And we, as white people, need to work to ensure that we “hav[e] a teacher population that mirrors our student population”.
Constituents of all races and backgrounds in our district should care that there are inequities in resources, because it affects all of our students. When all of our students are brought up and receive the resources they need, the district performs better as a whole. Student behavior and engagement improves, which improves attendance and graduation numbers.
Students who feel valued and invested in their education do better in school, and are good examples for the students around them. As parents, we want that for all of our students.
Needham school district established a Racial Equity and Leadership Team in their district, consisting of administration and staff, with the goal of eliminating barriers to racial equity. They are consulting with Professor Emeritus at Spellman College and the district attorney and are in the process of searching for a district consultant to provide feedback on district policies and practices, educate stakeholders, and provide solutions.
Newton school district has had consistent Racial Equity professional development and has created a paid position to support their community group Families for Racial Justice focused on having “courageous conversations about race” and “racial identity development”, as well as family conferences to engage with the community on conversations of race.
As our district school committee, your job is to work to make the strategic plan a reality. I would ask that the school committee do the necessary research to educate your group and our community about racism and inequities in our system that are holding Framingham Public Schools back from being truly great schools. There is work to be done, but once we start digging in, though it might be uncomfortable at first, it will only help to improve our schools and students’ experiences.
FFREE (Framingham Families for Racial Equity in Education)