The civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has united Marion County superintendents to tackle race issues head on. The 11 superintendents says they’ve come up with an innovative plan that goes well beyond the classroom and into the community. MSD Wayne Township Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts and MSD Lawrence Township Superintendent Dr. Shawn Smith say it was easy to come together and create the “No Racism Zone” initiative.
The superintendents discussed the partnership on a recent edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“What we’re doing is building on ongoing work that each one of our districts have had over the years in the space of equity but of course the recent incidents that have occurred over the last several years have really drawn us to join together — all 11 school corporations in Marion County — to do some very specific things to start off with and to show people that this is a united campaign,” said Butts.
Last weekend, the districts lit up their football fields in recognition of George Floyd, as well as the Juneteenth holiday. The next step will be posting “No Racism Zone” signs at all 11 school districts.
“And then we have been sharing some resource information with our families,” added Butts. “We know that they’re out of the schoolhouse now, but to begin those conversations happening at home with their parents, (we’re) giving them some resources that they can access.”
Smith says the critical piece is for the initiative to have a long-lasting impact.
“Dr. Butts and I lead school districts that have over 16,000 students and a couple thousands employees so we have a tremendous amount of power and voice to bring about change in our community,” said Smith. “Deeper than that is we’re governed by boards of education. I think the community is going to see boards begin to pass policy and action steps to bring about an end to racism in our community.”
Butts adds the conversations that are being had may be uncomfortable for some, but are necessary in order for the initiative to be successful and ongoing.