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Petition urges F-M to address racism, diversity

By David Tyler

As of Monday afternoon, more than 1,250 people had signed a petition launched last week by a group of recent Fayetteville-Manlius alums encouraging the district to “outline changes that will be made to make the F-M community safer and more inviting for people of color.”
“Given the fundamental role that school plays in the formation of students’ identities and beliefs, we respectfully urged the administration to take concrete actions to address race, racism, diversity and police brutality in all of its schools,” the petition reads.
“It’s a very important topic,” Superintendent Dr. Craig Tice said on Monday. “We’re very proud of the alumni for putting that together.”
The petition’s six initiatives urge the district to:
l Release a statement that outlines specific steps the district will take “to make its schools more inclusive and safe for students and staff of color;”
l Revise the curriculum to “foster conversations about race, racism, diversity, and police brutality through contemporary readings and diverse perspectives;”
l Foster discussions of local history to include some of the racist practices that have reduced diversity in Syracuse’s suburbs;
l Focus on hiring teachers and staff of color;
l Create a safe reporting mechanism for instances of racial bias or discrimination;
l “Destigmatize mental health and illness” and provide adequate counseling resources for all students.
The group had previously sent a lengthy annotated letter to Tice and the F-M Board of Education dated July 17 with specific ways the district could incorporate discussions of race into the curriculum.
“We are extremely grateful for the efforts of the F-M faculty,” the letter states, “and we are asking you to support and encourage teachers to pursue a curriculum that is more inclusive, diverse, and unapologetically willing to address issues relating to racism and injustice that will allow F-M students to be more prepared as global citizens when they leave high school.”
In June, following the death of George Floyd, Tice issued a statement on the district’s website acknowledging the pain that Floyd’s killing had inflicted on members of the community and reaffirming the district’s commitment to creating a welcoming atmosphere for all students, staff and community members.
“We need to reach out to our neighbors and show the compassion, empathy, and humanity that everyone deserves,” Tice wrote. “Most importantly, we must work together and continue our conversations around racial equity while removing barriers that contribute to systemic inequities.”
Later in June, the district issued a pledge to make diversity and equity a top priority for the district, and released a statement that the board and top administration “will be participating in a book study on racial equity designed to promote self-reflection.”
“This important first step will help the board guide future conversations around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion at F-M,” the statement said.
On Monday, Tice said that the board of education and the administration have already begun researching issues related to racism and diversity in the district and is in the process of coming to a “common understanding” on these issues.
“It has really resonated with the board,” Tice said. “It’s a topic that’s near and dear to their hearts.”

This content was originally published here.

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