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Letter to the Editor

Race and our schools

To the editor: The local unit of the NAACP is concerned about the recent events at Tanana Middle School and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. The vision of the NAACP is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination. Among our objectives is to eliminate race prejudice and to inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination.

As president of NAACP Unit 1001, I have been in contact with the superintendent about the lack of African American role models and appropriate training of teachers and school district staff. The incident on April 4 brought the situation to light for the Fairbanks North Star Borough community.

As a unit, we are calling for a voice at the table. As a unit we are inviting community members to reach out to us and let us know your concerns, wishes and suggestions.

The school district Diversity Board was changed to an advisory committee. A first step toward achieving equality for all citizens would be reverting the committee to an advisory board.

There have been reports from members of the African American community of incidents not conducive to learning. One such incident was not allowing a student to participate in a group meeting for Tanana Middle School African American students. The student is biracial and was not considered by staff as “black.” The student self-identified as black.

Such as the 1987 revised mediation agreement with Fairbanks Native Association and the school district, the NAACP encourages the district to seek and implement input from African American administrators, teachers and support staff — current and past. Schedule, at minimum, biennial meetings with members of NAACP Unit 1001 and have an African American parent on all principal hiring boards.

The local unit of the NAACP calls for a voice at the table with the school district to address past, current and future concerns, starting with the Tanana Middle School incident.

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