Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
We are witnessing extraordinary times. Our new school board was elected with the optimism of a great economy, and the possibilities of better funding for our students’ education and improving our community. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of that. We have struggled to rework our budget and reevaluate our priorities to develop distance learning and a safe return to school in the fall.
In the midst of all of this we have witnessed heinous crimes against Black Americans that are not new, but unfortunately, continue to happen with a regularity that is unacceptable in a country that espouses our high ideals. For too long, we have witnessed over and over again injustice, discrimination, and racism that has been unchecked and not dealt with.
The School Board shares the community’s sadness, anger, and frustration with the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans. We are shocked and disturbed by these events. We stand in solidarity with Americans everywhere who have been outraged by these events, and with the peaceful protesters who have sparked a national dialogue that must take place.
We know that our faculty and staff share our concerns, and we know our students are hurting and are angry. We see you, hear you, and are listening. We see you demonstrating and fighting for a system where everyone can feel safe regardless of the color of their skin. We hear you speak passionately of institutional racism and the lifelong impact these barriers have on health, financial security, and education. We are listening and commit ourselves to continue to listen to all of our residents.
Over the last few weeks people talk about education as a solution for racism and discrimination. That certainly is part of the answer, as is expecting our leaders to ensure justice is carried out without prejudice.
As elected caretakers of our public schools, it falls on us to find a solution. As community leaders we commit ourselves to promoting institutional change to combat racism and inequity within our schools.
We must do better and we will.
We have a responsibility to confront racism when we see it, address it directly with decisiveness, and look for solutions to prevent it.
Over the next few months the School Board will pursue concrete ideas to engage our students, the leaders of the next generation, in constructive dialogue. We will make recommendations to expand our current cultural competency and implicit bias training for faculty, staff, and students. We will insist on compliance with our nondiscrimination policies, institute curricular improvements to address cultural sensitivity so that all voices are heard, and seek to recruit and hire faculty and staff who reflect the diversity of our community. We will also seek out more opportunities for our students to have a voice with our law enforcement, elected officials, and members of our school administration.
We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and to all of those who are suffering at this time. You are in our thoughts and your pain will guide our actions.
We are encouraged by the diversity of young adults and students participating in these protests. Prince William County School’s greatest strength is our diversity, and we must build on that.
Prince William County Schools are stronger when we are together.