York, PA – (September 22, 2021) In response to actions taken by the Central York School Board, the Confronting Racism Coalition felt compelled to respond in the form of a community op-ed, and to invite support from local businesses and organizations as a show of solidarity with the opinions expressed there. Below is that letter followed by a list of the more than three dozen groups standing with the Confronting Racism Coalition:
Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched as our community has reacted to the recent decision of the Central York School Board to ban a list of resources focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While we’ve heard many reactions, the ones that impact us most are the students’ voices.
In steady or shaky voices, students from Central and neighboring school districts across our county shared how the ban made them feel. Comments ranged from being deeply hurt, to feeling as though the school board wasn’t listening to them, to feeling their hope crushed. The voices of these students resoundingly rippled throughout the county, and arguably, our country.
Hearing their pain and frustration begs the question – is this the best we can do for our children?
Is York a place where students are supported in their educational journey and prepared for success? Is it a place where the curriculum in our schools not only includes diversity education but embraces it?
For too long, we have let fear and uncertainty keep us from addressing issues of racism in our community.
While we have seen progress in the local organizations, businesses, and individuals who have invested time into building strong relationships and committed resources to address longstanding inequities, it is actions like this that continue to set us back.
Comments made by certain school board members make it apparent that fear is driving this decision as well. There is a fear of uncomfortable conversations and how that will make some students feel, and more presumably, how their parents will feel about the questions they might be asked. Others have expressed fear in the district that exposure to certain materials will translate into indoctrination.
Confronting racism is not easy work, but nothing worth doing usually is.
Giving our youth opportunities to learn about and thoughtfully discuss race and identity with age-appropriate materials provides a solid understanding of the complexities of our history and culture. There are established processes for curriculum development by professionals that are followed in every district. We should trust that educators can develop classroom resources that enhance students’ learning.
As a community, we have found that we all want the same things – to have our voices heard, be valued, and for our family and friends to thrive. We have found that when we invest in building relationships, we can build bridges to real progress.
We are thankful to everyone in our community who worked collectively to advocate for lifting the ban. While messy and painful, the moral arc did, in fact, bend toward justice and doing what is right by maintaining that our young people’s educational journey be open to as much information as possible.
Lifting the ban on materials was a needed first step.
Several weeks ago, the Confronting Racism Coalition offered to meet with the Central York School Board to discuss our concerns and to offer guidance in building relationships that lead with transparency and trust when addressing issues of racism. We stand ready to serve and invite the school board to invest in their personal education to ensure they are equipped to make thoughtful collaborative decisions.
The Confronting Racism Coalition (CRC) exists to break down systemic racial barriers and promote healing, equity, and inclusion for all. We extend an open invitation for discussion, learning, exploration, and conversation. Everyone is invited to join the CRC and can do so by sending an email to email@example.com.
In the words of one Central York student who spoke out against the ban, “Education is built on uncomfortable conversations.” Let us be inspired by her insight and rise to the challenge of leading our youth.
The Confronting Racism Coalition and partners who stand with us:
Todd Fogdall, President & CEO, The Appell Center
Josh Leik, Executive Director, The Arc of York County Inc.
Anthony Schweitzer, Executive Director, Bell Socialization Services
- Eric Menzer, Chairman, Better York
Linda Z. Gorter, Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of York and Adams Counties
Pastor Bill Kerney, President, The Black Ministers Association of York County
Christy S. Renjilian, Executive Director, Child Care Consultants Inc.
Eric M. Chase, Executive Director & CEO, The Children’s Aid Society
Kelley Gibson, President, The Cultural Alliance
Robin Rohrbaugh, President & CEO, Community Progress Council
Doug Hoke, County of York Commissioner
Robert Simpson, CEO, Crispus Attucks York
Jamiel L. Alexander, CEO & Co-Founder, E5 Enterprise
Ashlee Etzweiler, Etzweiler Family Funeral Services
Jenny Englerth, President & CEO, Family First Health
Jose Santiago, Chair, Latinos Unidos of York
Tom O’Connor, President, Leg Up Farm
Aaron Anderson, CEO, Logos Academy
Austin daSilva, Executive Director, Mental Health America of York & Adams Counties
Delia Pabon, Executive Director, Parliament Arts Organization
Tammy Relken, Executive Director, Pressley Ridge
Jackie Summers, President, Rotary Club of York
Pastor Larry T. Walthour II, Shiloh Baptist Church
Bob Rundle, President & CEO, SpiriTrust Lutheran
Anne Druck, President, United Way of York County
Cal Weary, CEO, Weary Arts Group LLC
Larry M. Richardson, President & CEO, YMCA of York and York County
Richard Craighead, President, York Chapter NAACP
Dominic DelliCarpini, Dean, Center for Community Engagement, York College of Pennsylvania
Chris Ferro (Esq.), President, York County Bar Association
John C. Uhler (Retired Judge), President, York County Bar Foundation
Jane Conover, President, York County Community Foundation
Kevin Schreiber, President & CEO, York County Economic Alliance
Robert F. Lambert, President, York County Libraries
Bobbi Anne DeLeo, Executive Director, York County Literacy Council
Brian Grimm, President & CEO, York Day Nursery
Jody Shaffer, Executive Director, YWCA Hanover
Jean Treuthart, CEO, YWCA York