Letter: Willeford is committed to equity in school district

Editor,

We are engaged residents of South Whidbey and represent an array of racial and social justice groups on the island, and also have, or have had, children in the district’s schools. We are committed to an equity-focused approach to nurture a healthy and resilient community, with particular attention to members whose voices are ignored or even silenced, including our youth.

The alarmingly high rates of substance abuse and suicidal ideation in our schools compared to state averages are concerning. These data coupled with first-hand and reported experiences of inadequate and unhelpful interactions with district staff motivated us to get more involved with the school board elections.

We invited all four candidates to meet with us to discuss their commitment to social and racial equity in the district; their knowledge of the experiences of our youth, especially the most marginalized; and how we might be of service in enhancing their connection to youths’ stories and with equity-specific resources.

Brook Willeford responded quickly and eagerly. Linda Racicot responded and was only willing to meet with us after the election and in a public school board meeting format.

Brook has been educating himself on equity issues for the past four years. He has listened to parents, students and teachers. He believes their stories of a problematic school environment and an administration and board whose default response is to smooth over issues of racism, bullying, sexism and other oppressive actions rather than risk the discomfort and vulnerability needed to make deep and lasting changes.

Brook, a graduate of South Whidbey schools, believes in the importance of two-way communication between the school board and the community it serves. He has strategies in mind to ensure that the board receives its information from sources beyond the superintendent. He comes across as respectful and as a team player who is also committed to active, thoughtful and honest oversight of the district and the superintendent.

We support Brook Willeford for South Whidbey School Board and urge you to do the same.

Chris Byrne, Scott Chaplin, Derek Hoshiko, Marnie Jackson, Diana Sandoval, Jolene Westphal, Melissa Wood,

Members of Racial Justice Learning Group, Social Justice Solidarity Net (that) Works, RACE (Real Actions Create Equity), BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

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