June 14, 2020 | Updated June 18, 2020

The superintendents of Northwest Indiana public schools are committed to promoting a society free of all forms of discrimination and injustice based on race, background or religion. Each of our school districts value our belief and mission statements that emphasize a commitment to providing school environments that give equitable opportunities for all students. We remain dedicated to educating our students so that when they graduate, they are ready to participate in meaningful ways in our democratic society.

Collectively, we are outraged and heartbroken by the horrific murder of George Floyd as well as cases of violence and inequitable treatment of people of color. We will not accept systems, structures and behaviors that force black and brown people to fear for their lives. As leaders, we know that education and educators play a vital role in addressing racism and creating the needed change.

We have committed to working on cultural competencies and have been addressing the needs for ongoing social emotional learning opportunities for our staff members and students. Last summer, the superintendents of Northwest Indiana public schools sponsored workshops conducted by Dr. Lori DeSautels, a highly respected professor from Butler University and an expert in educational neuroscience. Dr. Lori began the work of showing teachers and principals how to help students feel a sense of purpose and connection as they walk into their classrooms each day. We will continue to expand the ways in which we support educators by providing them with more content focused on advancing equity and dismantling bias.

Nelson Mandela once stated, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

We recognize the need to do more. Increasing graduation rates, acceptance to colleges, trade schools, the military, and the world of work will continue to be our highest academic goal. However, we want our communities to know that we are committed to taking on the role as front-line workers in the fight for equity by educating our students that respect, kindness, and love are the ways to a better society for all. Our children deserve this, and our world needs all of us to participate!

Peggy Buffington, School City of Hobart; Larry Veracco, Lake Central School Corporation; Steve Disney, River Forest Community School Corporation; Tom Cripliver, Lake Station Community Schools; Mary Tracy-MacAulay, Hanover Community School Corporation; Amanda Alanis, Portage Township Schools; Scott Miller, School City of Hammond; Stacey Schmidt, Porter Township School Corporation; Cindy Scroggins, School City of Whiting; Aaron Case, East Porter Community; Tony Lux, Crown Point Community School Corporation; Nick Brown, Merrillville Community School Corporation; Rod Gardin, Tri Creek School Corporation; Sharon Johnson Shirley, Lake Ridge New Tech Schools; Nate Kleefisch, MSD of Boone Township; Chip Pettit, Duneland School Corporation; Jeff Hendrix, School Town of Munster; and Mark Francesconi, LaPorte Community School Corporation, are all Northwest Indiana school superintendents.

The opinions are the writers’.

Source: NWI Times, View article at nwitimes.com here.