September 9 2020

Letter to the Editor: In Support of BPS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director

The following is a Letter to the Editor 


Like you reader, I hear about conflicts over racial discrimination and agonize over what I might do to make the world better.


That is why I was delighted when a new group in town, Burlington Against Racism (BAR), came to me and other Town Meeting members. BAR asked us to sponsor a warrant article addressing a specific racial justice issue in town – the addition of an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Director for the public schools. With BAR’s assistance, five Town Meeting members submitted a warrant article asking the September session of Town Meeting to provide funding for the position starting in January of 2021.


Why create a new position when the economic recession is slashing at town revenues? In June, at a local event protesting the killing of George Floyd, several former Burlington High School students spoke up about the discrimination and harassment they suffered while in the Burlington school system. Many parents of children of color also told stories about their children being bullied or verbally harassed because of the color of their skin.


BAR was created to seek a better learning environment in our schools. Many suburban towns, facing similar issues, are hiring staff people with specialized skills to ensure their schools remain healthy places for children of all races. In fact, the Burlington School District’s Equity Committee has supported adding this position for several years.


As parents well know, every year of a child’s education is a precious building block, a necessary step toward the goal of an independent, productive adulthood. That is why BAR and the Town Meeting members who submitted this warrant article want to have a person in place this school year – because no child in Burlington should have their year disrupted by racial bias.


Fine you say, but we can’t afford new positions during a recession. The answer lies in our Town Reserve Funds. More than $9 million is available for fiscal emergencies. What better use of these funds than to ensure that the children in our care, whose lives are being stunted by racial tensions, learn how to get along with each other. Rather than a nice extra, this is an essential part of becoming an adult in 21st century America. The successful young adults of tomorrow will be the children – white, black, or brown – who know how to successfully work in diverse settings. 


Monte Pearson, Town Meeting, Pct. 3

Willow Way


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