Statement to the School Community regarding state of our Nation.
June 1, 2020
Dear MVUSD Families,
I write to you with a heavy heart. I have been Superintendent for the past 8 years and have shared my feelings through a community-wide messages only a few times. This week I am communicating twice with our families. Later in the week we will send a message out about considerations and planning being undertaken for the next school year. The second message here is from my heart. I do not naturally take to the soapbox but there are times when it is warranted. This is one of those times.
We are living in heavy times. As I look at the world and national landscape through my lens, I can say that the last several months have been heavy. But this last week has brought to light that for people of color in our nation and in our community, the times have been unbearably heavy for much longer than just a few months. Indeed, things have been heavy in ways and for lengths of time that I will never understand. I have never and will never have to worry about my safety when jogging or birdwatching. My wife and I never had to consider telling our children about how they could be treated differently because of their skin color. The videos we see catch just a small fraction of the injustice that occurs. Sometimes it is blatant, often it is subtle, but it is real, and it resides in our societal systems.
Over the last five years we have been doing some good work in the District towards constructing equity. I am grateful to our leadership team for facilitating these courageous conversations with staff, parents, and students. But I realize it falls woefully short of what is needed, not just in our community, but throughout our nation. People are literally worn out and have reached the point where they cannot bear injustice occurring any longer. The founding of our nation came about because injustices were thrust upon people. Today, all Americans should be outraged that any human being is on the receiving end of the injustices being seen.
In our efforts towards equity, we regularly meet with student groups who always tell it like it is. In one meeting, I was moved by a high school student who shared of instances when she was on the receiving end of racist behaviors. I asked her what she did when they occurred, and her response quite literally stopped me. She said, “I just bear it”. This is a heavy load for a high school student or any group of people to bear alone. The weight is real and carrying it and owning it requires all of us.
Racism permeates all aspects of our society, both subtlety and outrageously. I have spent the last several years reading on issues related to racial justice and equity. I feel it is our job to be as passionately outraged about injustice, not just for today or tomorrow, but next year and the year after and the year after; our students deserve this and need this. We should not just be outraged by the blatant examples we are seeing on video but outraged for the many examples that that occur that are never brought to light.
No one condones the destruction currently going on in our nation, and it must stop.
I am so thankful for the men and women who selflessly serve in law enforcement. Our Murrieta First Responders are men and women who are rooted deeply in our community and genuinely care about the people they serve and protect. We are so fortunate to be in this community. Our first responders have an incredibly challenging mission and need to be thanked for it, especially today. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of these men and women truly are fulfilling a selfless mission to serve and protect all people. The same is true for our students, community, and staff. Unfortunately, we have seen the cancer that a small percentage can spread throughout a system.
This week would normally be a celebratory week. We will be there to smile and cheer our students at checkout, promotion, and graduation celebrations during this pandemic. But we know underneath the smiles and cheers, it will not be celebratory for many, maybe even most at this time. Please know that the burden being borne is way heavier for some than others. I pray for our nation and our community and every family represented in our district. Thank you for being a part of needed and productive change that will shift the reality of oppression that is very real and being carried too heavily for people of color. It takes all of us.
Patrick Kelley, Superintendent
Questions? Contact Public Information Officer Monica Gutierrez at 651-696-1600 ext. 1022 or firstname.lastname@example.org