LAUNCH Flagstaff — Achieving equity in education and our society

| June 9, 2020

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A Statement from the Partnership Director

Dear Friend,

The mission of LAUNCH Flagstaff is to advance equitable access to world-class education for every child in Flagstaff.  By definition, equity is the state of being just and fair and it is the context through which the partners of LAUNCH Flagstaff take their collaborative action.  This is easier said than done, because achieving equity often requires the non-equal distribution of resources.
 
The truth is that to be successful in achieving equity in education, we will have to make significant progress in undoing the historical injustices and ongoing inequities imposed on Indigenous, Black, and Latino peoples by White people through the colonization of this land.
 
Current events have once again brought America’s history of racism and state-sanctioned violence against people of color to the surface.  We have an opportunity to collectively examine our personal and institutional beliefs, practices and policies, questioning their origin and their validity.
 
Personally, my work in directing the collective partnership of LAUNCH Flagstaff has provided me opportunity to challenge the assumptions taught to me by my well-meaning White parents and reinforced by our White dominant culture.  For most of my life, I never thought of myself as having a race, because I was subtly taught that I was just “normal.”  This implies that those who are not like me are the ones labeled with a race.  As a result, this implicit bias fundamentally prejudices my default reaction to these other people as being other than “normal.” That is how I became a racist.
 
Actually, I can’t be anything other than a racist until I do the hard work of identifying the ways in which I perpetuate White cultural dominance, which are invisible to me.  This often happens simply by my presence and the pale color of my skin.  To not do this work makes me complicit in perpetuating the systemic oppression of people of color, which has been happening since the colonization of the Americas and continues today.
 
As educators, we must also work to uncover the implicit biases that are enculturated into our systems of education which reinforce racist discipline practices, misdiagnose Black and Brown students for special education, and utilize assessments that give White students a cultural advantage for success.  
 
To accomplish this, LAUNCH Flagstaff will amplify our leadership in rethinking how our educational systems can achieve equitable access for every child.  The LAUNCH Flagstaff Steering Committee, in its meeting on June 4th, agreed to move beyond seeing equity as simply a foundation of our work.  Starting next week, LAUNCH Flagstaff will begin to identify intentional strategies to mitigate the systemic injustices in our educational systems.
 
This will be hard work on top of the work we are already doing to advance equitable access to high-quality, full-day, year-round preschool through the Elevate PreK pilot program, our effort to align community literacy resources for improved school readiness and grade-level reading, and our work to advance opportunities for career exploration and post-secondary education.  
 
I don’t pretend to know how we will do this work.  But I do believe that by putting the voices of our Indigenous, Latino, and Black students, families, and teachers at the center of our conversation we will find some strategies which we can collectively implement.
 
I hope you’ll commit to joining us.
 
Respectfully, 

Paul Kulpinski
Partnership Director
 
P.S.  Here are some resource which I’ve found useful in my personal journey of self-reflection.  Maybe you’ll find value in some of these for yourself.  Click on the book covers for more detail.

 

Recent progress on our effort to expand equitable access to high-quality, full-day, year-round preschool for 4-year-old children in Flagstaff who live in households between 101% and 250% of the Federal Poverty Level and who are not currently in a preschool setting.

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1515 East Cedar Avenue, Suite D-1    Flagstaff, Arizona 86004    928.773.9813  

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