Copy of Testimony from Racial Justice Organizing Committee to the Board of Education, September 23, 2021
This testimony is from the Racial Justice Organizing Committee. Our mission is to work towards the abolition of white supremacy and racism in all of the ways it presents in our communities and schools. We see–in the many ways this school reopening has been substandard–that this Board has much work to do in bringing a liberatory education to our communities.
The transportation debacle is simply one of the many failures that Dr. Hite and the board must own. It is a tool of white supremacy culture to discount and abuse the workers who take care of the most vulnerable among us–and that is exactly what administration after administration did when they decided bus drivers were less important than other workers. The outsourcing of those crucial jobs to fly-by-night for-profit operators and the elimination of SDP busdriver as a good union job betrays your real feelings for our students with special needs: they are not deserving of the best, they are only deserving of the cheapest.
Our nursing shortages and retention issues betray the same disregard for our students. Our nurses can make multiples of their current salary by working for any other entity but the SDP. While you seem to believe the argument that pay scales must be high in order to attract talent when it comes to the administrative branch of the SDP, you have no such regard for the people who work most closely with our children. Our nurses are acting heroically in this time, are overworked and understaffed – yet you allow Dr. Hite and his team to display the utter temerity to tell these same overworked nurses that they must drive to 440 to pick up supplies. Again, you uplift white supremacy culture when you fail to provide for the needs of our students in a way that truly values their worth.
We are also in a teacher retention and staffing crisis–some schools have as many as 8 teacher vacancies: yet many certified teachers employed by the district are assigned to various 440 jobs. They are certainly available to be reassigned to schools and classrooms until this crisis is resolved. IF you believe our students are the raison d’etre for this district, then you will put teachers with students now. It has been done before, it is past time to do it again.