June 1st, 2020
Superintendent Donna Colosky sent this message to students and families in response to the tragic death of George Floyd and protests against racism here and around the nation.
Dear MISD Families,
The events of this past week cannot be met with silence. The death of George Floyd that led to the protests across our nation cannot be ignored. If we let this week go by and do not take the time and opportunity to have direct and open conversations about race with our children, then that is a shame. It is not enough for white people to say “we are not racist.” That is too neutral and passive. It must be about being anti-racist. I want you all to know that the Mercer Island School District community continues to work every day to acknowledge this cycle of racism and hate and to guide our students to a better future for themselves.
Our District Fundamental (goal) 7 sets a clear path for us to “Foster and embrace diversity, inclusiveness and equity, with a focus on respect and acceptance of every student.” Our Superintendent Equity Advisory and the individual school equity teams are dedicated to this social emotional learning around empathy and compassion in order to make a difference for our students and community. Our Equity and Diversity policy commits our educational system to focusing on addressing issues around racial diversity as it remains a key issue in American society.
Teaching and learning will happen within cultural, political and social circumstances. As much as we want to deny it, we all have biases based on our life experiences. We must continue to navigate these differences to better understand each other and our worlds and advocate for a better, more equitable future. We must continue to build a school culture that is anti-racist and anti-hate. It is important that we recognize that racism is deeply and historically rooted in our nation and we must commit to actively work to change this. We need to help our children understand what is going on in the streets, on the news and on social media as a response to racially charged incidents by having much needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism. As parents, these can be difficult conversations to have with our children, but we must be brave and vulnerable. Justice and Anti-Racism start with conversations at home. Let's teach our children love and appreciation of different skin colors, cultures, religions
and origins. Here is a resource that may support your family.
As we finish out the final days of this disrupted and challenging school year, we will continue to dedicate our work in support of our students during this crisis of the COVID pandemic and now more importantly, bravely working to be an anti-racist organization. To assist in the conversation, please know that our school counselors and MI YFS counselors are available to our students to listen and support. Every child and adult in our community should be safe, seen, valued and dignified. Let’s work together to make sure that all of our students have the support they need to be successful.
Stay safe and healthy.
Donna Colosky, Superintendent