Commentary: Listen with purpose and work for change

By Dan Shelton and John C.P. Martin Jr.

The Capital School District is dedicated to supporting all students and staff through these challenging times. It is our responsibility to be leaders in equity, to teach respect and kindness, and to ground our actions in collaboration and accountability.

As a nation, we are wrestling with emotions around the tragic death of another black man who died at the hands of a white police officer. Each of us has our own lived experiences, which color those emotions.

Many in Dover participated in peaceful protest, which is the heart of our, and any, successful democracy. Respectful discourse is perhaps slow-moving; however, rioting and looting does not honor the memory of those who have died or those who suffer from the effects of racism. Instead, as an educational community, we must recognize and understand the impact of institutional racism and work together in a manner that challenges the structures that support it.

We must recognize that unconscious bias affects each of us when we make decisions. We must also admit that it is not past history; there are still structures and processes that account for institutional racism today. To quote one of our colleagues, Dorrell Green, superintendent of the Red Clay Consolidated School District: “Let us become intentional about building a community where children, families and schools can thrive together. Let us commit to working together to create societies where we value the unique abilities, cultures, heritages and bonds that promote systemic change for equal justice.”

The Capital School District is committed to identifying and improving our systems to ensure we meet the needs of the whole child in a safe, inclusive and equitable way.

As a Senator Nation, we live in a diverse and proud community. We challenge each and every one of us to reflect on our own lived experiences and recognize the privileges that we may enjoy and the opportunities that we can access. We must make a point to listen, to listen with purpose, gain some sense of the other person’s perspective and make a conscious effort to respond with respect, tolerance and understanding, remembering that if we fail to do so, our response may be misinterpreted.

Every life is sacred; each of us deserves dignity, respect and fair treatment. We must all work together if we are going to make a better place for our children. We can and must do better.

The Capital School District remains committed to equity and meeting the needs of the whole child.

Dan Shelton, Ed. D
Superintendent, Capital School District

John C.P. Martin Jr.
President, CSD board