September 14 2020

Letter to the Editor: Burlington Teachers Union in Favor of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The following is a Letter to the Editor: 


As a public school teacher and active member in my local association, the BEA, I have long held the belief that public education should set the groundwork in which all students, regardless of their background, race, gender, or other factors, are given an equitable opportunity in which to learn, achieve, and succeed to their highest potential. However, I also understand the reality that we must constantly work and strive to ensure strong public schools that are equitable places for all of our students where all are welcome.


Therefore, when I was approached by the BAR asking for the support of the BEA in the creation of a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, an incredible opportunity was presented to further this anti-racism work through an educational program in our schools under the guidance of a district wide director. The BEA executive board voted to pledge our support for BAR and for the creation of this position, recognizing the importance of this work.


We are in a unique position that we have not seen in our lifetimes. The ongoing COVID 19 global pandemic and the national protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other individuals of color have impacted and altered our daily lives. Working together, however, we have the opportunity to guide the future of public education in Burlington and fulfill our charge to the students, staff, and community by ensuring health through science and dismantling racism through education. 


The history of unions and the fight for social and racial justice have long been closely intertwined. While this history is not perfect by any means, the tenets and principles of equality, fair pay for equal work, and the availability of opportunity through education lend themselves to these movements going hand in hand. 


Having been in Burlington Public Schools for a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to hear the voices of our students who have been negatively impacted by racism. While these stories are difficult to hear, I also could not be prouder of our incredible young people who are now speaking up and speaking out to make the change they want to see in the world. I am proud to count myself among their adult allies, and proud the BEA could offer our support to BAR in submitting a warrant article for the creation of the DEI position.


Patrick Murphy

President, Burlington Educators’ Association


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