SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon State Board of Education passed a resolution Thursday declaring “Black Lives Matter.”
The resolution strongly supports justice and dignity for all Black people and renews the Board’s commitment to anti-racism, equity, and access to education as a core value.
It also urges Oregon school districts, public charter schools, and education service districts to take several actions to support Black students, educators, and community members including renewing their commitment to anti-racism and strengthening networks of support for students and families who are experiencing increased harassment, violence, bullying, or hatred based on race.
The Oregon State Board of Education, the Oregon Department of Education , the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators, the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon School Boards Association, the Oregon School Employees Association , the Oregon School Activities Association, the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts and the Oregon Association of Student Councils submitted a joint letter to the Oregon State Board of Education supporting the resolution.
The resolution and letter mirror similar actions taken by boards of education around the U.S., including Baltimore County Public Schools, Indianapolis Public Schools, Berkeley Public Schools and many more.
“All students belong in Oregon schools. Sometimes, that means telling one student they belong and that they matter when they need to hear it,” said Kimberly Howard, chair of the Oregon State Board of Education. “Sometimes, that means telling a group of students that they matter when they have heard and felt the opposite for far too long.”
“We cannot be silent in response to the racism that students and staff experience in Oregon’s schools,” said Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill. “The Oregon Department of Education is committed to ensuring that Oregon’s schools are safe and inclusive for all students and staff, and that means conclusively and repeatedly saying, ‘Yes, we affirm the dignity and humanity of Black people.’ That’s what Black Lives Matter means, as a statement of love and justice. And love and justice are the side of history we all need to be on.”
“We applaud the Oregon State Board of Education for adopting a Black Lives Matter resolution today. This is an important step -- one of many -- toward affirming our Black children and families. Their lives, their dreams, and their futures matter,” said Craig Hawkins, executive director of the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators. “As school leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure that all of our students feel seen, safe, and welcome in our schools so they can fulfill their potential and achieve their goals, and we commit to partnering with Black students and community to ensure that our systems change.”
“We fully support Black Lives Matter as a civil rights movement that aims to combat racism and support Black individuals,” said Jim Green, executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association. “We stand beside Black Lives Matter, as a statement of social justice and an affirmation of the value and worth of Black people.”
ODE is supporting school districts in developing rules, policies, and procedures by providing guidance, educational resources, and toolkits to support implementation of policies prohibiting hate symbols. To provide clarity as questions arise, the resolution and letter affirm that Black Lives Matter slogans and insignias are neither considered hate symbols, nor are they political or attached to a specific candidate or party, so are not prohibited by the state.