If you read your 2021 Washington County voter’s pamphlet, there’s a lot of delightful and often neutral sounding stuff in there: let’s get back to school, let’s keep class sizes down, let’s keep kids safe. We all want that. But there’s a lot under the rhetoric. Let’s break it down.
- Four races are happening for Beaverton School District positions.
- Everyone who is a voter within the Beaverton School District boundaries votes in all the races.
- Our school board is seven members, six are white (the one Black member of the board is not running for re-election and her spot is open).
- Our county is over half people of color. Race does not determine someone’s views or positions, but lived experience is important to bring to the board. For example, our school district disproportionately disciplines Black and Latinx kids, kids who come from families with low-incomes, and special ed kids. We need school board members who will actively build relationships within those student populations and not rely on the district and other school officials explaining away the problems.
We can assume that everyone in the district is a good person and no one is intending to cause harm. And yet we still have very inequitable outcomes for students. Nice people is not enough. We’ve had plenty of time with white, don’t-rock-the-boat school boards. It’s time to meet the moment and get a board ready to achieve equity and seek racial justice. Let’s get some shit done.
Here’s who to vote for:
Ugonna will make an excellent school board member and bring a perspective that the board sorely needs. She’s very interested in listening to students and is raising a son who is currently in middle school. Raising a Black son in the Beaverton School District is a challenge. We need Ugonna’s voice. And yet, this is the hardest race to win because Ugonna’s opponent is a very middle-of-the-road white lady incumbent. In the school board meetings I’ve watched, I can’t point to one interesting thing that Ugonna’s opponent has said. But she’s a safe white lady who has been on the board. Those things alone will probably sway white, middle class voters. But not us! We’re voting Ugonna. Let’s do this, people!
Confusing Rhetoric Explained
We’ve seen candidates like use confusing language. Let’s unpack some of it.
What does it mean if you hear a candidate say that science should be taught “based on biology”?
This is transphobic language. It means the candidate believes that sex and gender are always the same. Our LGBTQIA+ students suffer under policies made based on this thinking that excludes students who don’t conform to heterosexual norms. This is the same type of thinking that has allowed the spread of discriminatory anti-trans legislation like “bathroom bills” and athletics bills. We should be seeking to undo and heal harm rather than perpetuate it.
What does “politics out of schools” mean?
“Politics out of schools” is being used in backlash to 2020’s racial justice tipping point. It assumes that before 2020, schools were neutral and apolitical. The fight for Black lives, equity, and human rights is not inherently political, but it does mean reexamining school norms and learning to be better.
What does it mean if you hear a candidate say that Critical Race Theory has no place in our schools or is racist?
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been around for decades. It’s a field of study that helps people see where and how racism exists today. In order to fight racism, we must understand how it works. Racism is much more than our own individual beliefs. Critical Race Theory helps us see how the long history of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, voter suppression, immigration practices, etc. continue to impact US laws, policy, attitudes, education, justice, and more.
Fear-mongering about Critical Race Theory falls into a well-worn pattern of white supremacy that seeks to discredit racial justice movements. Beware of claims of reverse racism, Marxism, communism, or other fear tactics that have been used since the Civil Rights Movement to stoke fear when the status quo is challenged.