Lake Oswego Junior High: The Toxic Culture of Racism Must Be Ended

At the March meeting of the Clackamas County Democratic Central Committee, a resolution was adopted unanimously to stand in solidarity with students who experience racial discrimination at Lake Oswego Junior High in general and the most recent example in particular.

The resolution has been forwarded to the Lake Oswego School Board. It states in part:

Many are watching and listening to how the School Board is moving forward to effect needed institutional change. Simply applying a curriculum, no matter how excellent, over atop a toxic culture will not suffice. It gives the appearance of actions without sustainable outcomes.

There is no illusion that the Lake Oswego school system is better or worse then others in regard to this issue. All of our institutions must be on constant vigilance for racism, now that it is being condoned by the highest office in the land.

We must assertively deal with racism where it surfaces. The Lake Oswego situation is one such event and episode, and to pretend it is an isolated event does a disservice to both teachers and students. It also misses an opportunity for positive change.

Until we can have a national reconciliation process to address the abuses of slavery and our expropriation of native lands and peoples, these issues will fester, bubbling up here and there.
Unfortunately we, as a people, tend not to reflect about the past. We tend to run towards the future with the expectation that the past will resolve itself and that, if we run fast enough, we can actually outrun our past. Yet more often than not we find ourselves, at the end of that run, right back where we started.

Thus the Lake Oswego situation is a good starting point to address the institutional foundations for racist behavior and the underlying fear that is its underpinning.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF CLACKAMAS COUNTY

Justice Committee Letter to Lake Oswego School Board
Regarding Racism in Lake Oswego Schools

March 23, 2018

Lake Oswego School District
2455 Country Club Road
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97034

Re: Racism in Lake Oswego Schools,

Dear School Board Chair, John Wallin,

The Clackamas County Democratic Central Committee and the Justice Committee of the Clackamas County Democrats offer our full support to the 6th grade student who was the most recent target for hate speech at Lake Oswego Junior High School. We stand solidly with this student and any other student, including those who have come forwarded since this incident came to light and reported being the victims of racial abuse.

We stand with students impacted by hateful, prejudicial, discriminatory, and hurtful acts or words. We hear them. We believe them. You need to keep them safe. Many are watching and listening to how the School Board is moving forward to effect needed institutional change. Simply applying a curriculum, no matter how excellent, over atop a toxic culture will not suffice. It gives the appearance of actions without sustainable outcomes.

The School Board’s actions must go to the very heart of a democratic and open community. We support you as individual members to come together as a Board to establish measurable outcomes to practicing restorative justice, equity, and civility in our schools. We support you as individual members to work together as a Board to establish policies and programs such as the use of restorative justice that foster a culture of equity and civility for all students in our schools, with a priority on providing protection from abuse for all students throughout the Lake Oswego school system.

Sincerely,

Peter Nordbye
Chair, Democratic Party of Clackamas County

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