A Message from Superintendent Chamberlin

A Message from Superintendent Chamberlin
Posted on 06/03/2020

June 3, 2020
Dear UPSD Parents, Students, Colleagues and Partners: 

As we recognize our 2020 graduates this week, I am filled with both pride and sadness.  I am confident that these graduates are well prepared for the world, but I am sad and ashamed that the world we’ve prepared for our graduates will benefit some while harming others. For the last eight nights, thousands of people across the nation have marched in our streets, nearly all of them peaceably, to express their outrage at long-standing racial inequities and terrible injustices that continue to plague our democracy. The protesters, and many others who remain in their homes, are fearful, hurt and angry. It is critical that all of us listen to and learn from these voices and to voices here in our own community with similar grievances and concerns.

The COVID19 pandemic, widespread unemployment, school closures, and, most recently, the tragic killing of George Floyd have disrupted our sense of security, fairness, justice and well-being.  These traumas impact all of us.  But it is clear that some of our fellow citizens are being harmed to a much greater extent than others. People of color and those with fewer economic resources experience these shared challenges in ways that are deeply painful and unjust.  COVID19 deaths disproportionately impact people of color.  School closures are most harmful to students with the fewest resources to learn from home. And across the nation, people of color continue to be victims of fear, violence and, all too frequently, death.  Our black citizens have been, and continue to be, disproportionately harmed by a tragic legacy of institutional racism and violence. These systemic racial and economic injustices are unacceptable. 

We owe it to our current and future graduates to acknowledge the problems that still exist everywhere, unite across all of our paralyzing divisions and work together to end our country’s long history of systemic racism, discrimination and inequality. The children of this community - and of every community- need their adults to do this together.

For our part, UPSD is committed to addressing these serious, long-standing inequities by striving to provide all students with an education that is inclusive and uplifting.  We believe that great schools have the potential to build understanding, promote equal opportunity and equip all children with the skills needed for a happy and productive life. We believe that schools, at their best, can serve as an important counterweight to many of the inequities in our society. But this will only happen when schools are free from racism in all its forms and when every student feels safe, respected and appreciated in every classroom.  This work is imperfect and unfinished in UP as it is everywhere. The protests may be distant from us now, but the problems are not. 

We will need the support, help and guidance of our families and community partners to achieve these common goals for our kids and to make sure that our system is truly culturally responsive and universally affirming for our youngest citizens. We will need students and parents to be honest with us and to speak up when our system falls short of these aspirations so we can learn and improve.

Under normal circumstances, we would be spending lots of time together, side-by-side, cheering on our students at graduations, concerts, moving-on ceremonies and other traditional year-end events.  In these moments, our common goal is always clear- the success of our children and the children of our neighbors and fellow citizens.  Current conditions do not allow us to be together physically, but the common goal remains.  Every parent, student and staff member can help us get better at this work by acknowledging that change is needed and by making a commitment to build better schools and a more just society together.

Thank you for taking time to read this message and I invite you to respond directly to this email with any thoughts or concerns you wish to share.  The more we communicate the better we will be.

Jeff Chamberlin