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An Open Letter to Students from Dr. Bill Nicely
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Dear KSD Students,
It was just a few short weeks ago that our district signed an agreement to partner with the Kansas City chapter of the NAACP. This agreement was a high point for me personally and professionally because it demonstrates our commitment to equity and inclusion of all students and a public denouncement of biased based bullying, specifically anti-black racism. In signing the agreement with the NAACP, School Board President Mark Kelly said, “It is with great pride that I sign this agreement with the NAACP and look forward to working together.” You can see the agreement here.
Today, I am writing to you with a heavy heart. Who could have ever known that day of pride and partnership would soon give way to sadness as overt anti-black racism reared its ugly head in our country again this week. The optimism I felt following our agreement with the NAACP has been met head on with sadness, fear and anxiety. I am proud of the progress we have made as a school district to combat racism in our schools and community, specifically racism against our black students. Even though I know there is more work to do, I remain optimistic about the future. I know many of you are feeling the same way, saddened and or angered by recent events but still committed to moving forward with positive change in our schools. No doubt, these are difficult times to be a young person, so I want to reaffirm our commitment to you, our students, to provide a safe, equitable and inclusive environment.
Each member of the Kearney Board of Education, incoming superintendent Dr. Matt Miller, and I have no tolerance for acts of any kind of racism. That is why it is so important to openly talk about bias and issues of racism and then commit to making progress together. We have to be honest about who we are. As long as racism has existed in our country, it has also existed in public schools. While we have made progress fighting anti-black racism, there is still work to do. That work can’t just come “top down” from me, your principals or your teachers. It has to come from you, too, and talking about it is only the first step. All of us, adults and young people alike, must take action and work together to make real progress and make a real difference. That is why I am asking each of you, regardless of your skin color, to be a part of the solution. I believe you truly are the future of this country. I am proud of what each of you has accomplished thus far and optimistic when thinking about all you can accomplish in the future. I envision one day racism will be a thing we only read about in history books, and I believe it could be your generation who makes the most progress toward this noble goal, but to do so all of us must re-commit to working together today.