“Dear St. Louis Regional School Leaders” Reflection

Jason HeissererUncategorized

Friends,

This week I received a letter titled “Dear St. Louis Regional School Leaders” in my inbox. I thought I’d share it with you along with a few thoughts. I invite you to read the entirety of the letter by clicking the link above. I also invite you to add your support to the letter as many area educators and parents have done, including members of the Crossroads faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Trustees.

The authors of this letter share concerns that, without school leadership and support, their children will “grow up seeing stark segregation as normal,” “will prefer to live in the comfort of sameness, even if it means relying on an understanding of history and politics that is convenient, decontextualized and unchallenged,” and “fear that [their] children, no matter how prepared academically, will be incompetent in matters of race, with a faulty understanding of how their identities are shaped and reflected by society.” I find these concerns compelling and important, and I believe that Crossroads has the context and intention to graduate students who will be prepared academically and who will not see segregation as normal, who will seek diversity, and who will be competent in matters of race, bias, and other matters of justice and equity.

Intent and context are not enough, however. As a school, we must respond to these concerns with intention and vigilance. It must be a part of our daily work: what we teach, how we teach it, how we distribute resources, and how we maintain our relationships. I am committed to leading for this intention, vigilance, and daily work, and I feel the strong support of our Board and many in our community, faculty, and staff.

The authors name that many of them are white and have been “predictably tentative in voices [their] views on issues of race and equity” in this region. They admit that they have allowed “parents of color and parents of students of color to bear the burden of pressing an admittedly complex, challenging, and uncomfortable conversation forward.” At Crossroads, we do have white parents who participate in conversations about race, equity, and justice, who engage with me when I write about such topics, who participated in last year’s  Witnessing Whiteness book study (they are still meeting), who expressed interest in and commitment to attending an “Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism” workshop, and who offer support, resources, and opportunities in a host of other ways. Participation in this way is central to living into our mission, but just over a third of our white parents participate in any of these ways. On behalf of all of our students, let this letter be an invitation for more participation. It will take all of us to make our mission vibrant and world-changing. If you’re not sure how, email me or refer to any of the calls to action and resources in the “Dear St. Louis Regional School Leaders” letter that I received this week.

I believe this letter, and other things like it (for example, this Call to Action endorsed by the National Association of Independent Schools) is significant, and I believe that Crossroads and Crossroads students in particular can be a leaders in the work for a more just and equitable region and world.

With great expectations,
Jason