School leaders react to the killing of George Floyd and other acts of violence against the black community

In letters sent to the Piedmont school community on Sunday, May 31, the School Board and PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker reacted to the recent killing of George Floyd and other acts of violence over the last few weeks.

From the PUSD Board of Education

To our Piedmont community—
On a regular basis, terrible incidents take place that leave us feeling sorrow and dismay. As with so many across our country, we have been outraged and heartbroken by the ongoing losses and acts of injustice in the last weeks: Mr. Floyd, Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, Mr. Cooper. They are reminders of systemic oppression that still occurs based on race, religion, culture, gender, orientation, identity. And as mothers who have sent our children out into the world with a lot of faith and no small amount of worry, it is unfathomable and heart wrenching to even imagine how much more frightening it must be for parents whose children are identified somehow as other and have to have some version of “The Talk” because oppression and injustice still occur.

Our educational community stands for equity, justice, dignity, respect, and empathy. We reaffirm our dedication to honoring and celebrating what makes us similar and different. We recognize, too, that while we teach and serve in this community with good intent, we each must continue to recognize and address our own implicit biases, using that work to have and to elevate our discussions and actions.

To all our community, but especially to our students, teachers, and staff of color, we stand with you. Who you are is important to us and we support you.

With respect,

Amal Smith
Cory Smegal
Megan Pillsbury
Andrea Swenson
Sarah Pearson

From the PUSD Superintendent:

Dear PUSD Students, Staff, Families, and Community,

I write to you today shattered as we have witnessed a senseless killing of yet another black person, George Floyd, at the hands of those who were charged to serve and protect him in Minneapolis.  Once again, a spotlight on racially motivated violence reveals the deep divide in our country and across communities, from San Francisco to Washington D.C..

Over the past several years, I have reached out to our community to express our unshakable condemnation of racially motivated bias, hatred, and violence–wherever it may rise, whether here in Piedmont or in any city across our country.  Over the past several months, we’ve heard that “we’re in this together” as our nation has grappled with more than 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19.  Forty million Americans have lost their jobs, and so many more spend every day in fear of the health and economic consequences.  While it can feel as if hope is in short supply, now is the time for us to demonstrate that we are truly “in this together” by condemning racial injustice in any form and showing our children and community that we:

  • Stand united to promote acceptance and kindness.
  • Stand up to bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and violence.
  • Stand up for each individual in our diverse community.

I grieve for the families who have lost loved ones and for those who are suffering. It is simply not enough to try to imagine what others are going through. We must have the respect and resolve to do something about it.  Racial bias, hatred, and violence are wrong and unjust.  It must stop and I plea that our nation can take actions that bring us together, to talk, and to heal.

More than 50 years ago, as this country was significantly polarized, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the National Cathedral about the “appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.’”  It is once again time to say something.

I encourage all of us to show our support for students, colleagues, and our neighbors of color who are surely feeling the weight of these tragedies.  Injustice is dependent on indifference.  Leadership is about showing up, standing up, and speaking up for what is right.  Join me in reaching out to the people who are hurting and let them know they are not alone.

Today, I ask you to stand united with us again for our students, staff, and community here in Piedmont and for everyone across the U.S. who has experienced racial bias, hatred, and violence.

Randall Booker

Superintendent, Piedmont Unified School District

Chair, North Region SELPA

President, Northern Alameda Adult Education Collective

“If we create a culture where every educator believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve.”
– Dylan Wiliam

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