Walking in Solidarity
President & CEO Scott Hartl recently shared a message with our more than 150 school partners, commending the courage and empathy of EL Education students in the wake of a hate incident and emphasizing our steadfast commitment to our principles of equity and inclusion:
I couldn’t be prouder of the EL Education community than I am at this moment. The entire faculty and student body at Casco Bay High School (CBHS) in Portland, Maine have set an example for our nation of what empathy and kindness looks like.
As you may have heard, some events in Portland last week exemplify both the challenges of this historical moment and the power of a response rooted in our principles as a nation. First, four 9th grade students at CBHS were victims of a racist hate crime as they walked to the bus stop after school. The students responded with maturity, courage, and appropriate actions that are a model for us all.
In response to the incident, students and staff gathered to plan a Walk of Solidarity. CBHS Junior Farhiyo Hassan led hundreds of students, staff and community leaders in chants such as ‘No Hate. No Fear. Everyone is Welcome Here.’
Our community is standing up. As we have for nearly 25 years, we are showing that, together, we can build a better world.
I want to clearly state that EL Education will continue to defend the values that we have embraced for our entire history as an organization--principles also enshrined in our national ideals--of equity and inclusion. From our founding as a country, we have declared that “all people are created equal,” yet history shows that actions have many times fallen short of these ideals.
In the fast-moving context of the political transition, we are asking ourselves, “What does it mean to stand for social justice, diversity and democracy in education today?” Here are some places we have found thoughtful responses:
- The most powerful examples of EL Education’s mission manifest in meaningful work by our students. Expeditions by Harborside Academy, Polaris Charter Academy, and King Middle School students are some examples.
- Sister organizations such as Facing History and Ourselves and Teaching Tolerance (a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center) are lifting up curated resources for teachers and schools.
- A recent series of posts on Education Week’s “Learning Deeply” blog discusses the role of EL Education schools in a challenging historical moment: Sacha Garcia-Mailloux, Assistant Principal of the Springfield Renaissance School: “A People Revitalized From Within;” Sarah Boddy, School Coach, “How to Teach When the Political Is Personal;” and Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer, “Saving Democracy: What Schools Can Do.”
- The student-made video “Just Like You” is a good example of students standing up for treating everyone with kindness and respect. You can find excellent examples of student work on immigration, social justice,and other related topics on our Models of Excellence website.
We know that schools across the country are reporting incidents of racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic harassment and attacks, and I’m guessing many of you are responding to new challenges, whether in your school or in the larger community. The post-inauguration transition has created a sense of uncertainty for many of us. I am here to state unequivocally that EL Education is steadfast in our mission and values.
We are eager to hear from you, and here to support you.
Has the climate in your school or larger community changed in recent months? Are there ways that we--at EL Education or our school network--can be of help? Do you have examples of how you, your staff, students, or families are standing up to hatred with courage and Crew spirit? Have you found resources that may be helpful to others?
Please share your experiences with us here. [We’d love to hear from all schools, not just those within the EL Education network.]
We stand ready to both amplify your actions and provide any support that may be helpful. Together, we are Crew. We are strong. We will create a better world.