The Maine Department of Education, Maine School Boards Association, Maine School Superintendents Association, Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities, Maine Education Association, Maine Principals Association, and Maine Curriculum Leaders Association enthusiastically affirm the right of every student to an equitable education. We proudly and steadfastly support the educators and districts in Maine who are taking on the work of understanding and dismantling racism and inequity in our schools and communities. We urge all Maine schools and educators to accept their role and responsibilities in examining and addressing the inequities that have long existed in our society and institutions.
We define educational equity as providing each student a legitimate opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive in school and beyond.
Equity depends on a deliberate and systematic abolition of the inequities that have been sewn into the fabric of American society. These persistent inequities have long disadvantaged students on the basis of race, sex, gender, gender expression, language, physical and intellectual ability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, indigenous origin, religion, and all aspects of human identity that have been subjugated within our society. We recognize that education is one of many systems that have had a role in perpetuating racial inequities, and that through close examination of our system, we can and must strive to attain diversity, equity, and inclusion of all voices and experiences. We believe this work is central to living up to our promises of providing an outstanding education for every Maine learner and continuing to be a public education system of excellence.
We recognize and commit to our role and duty as Maine public education leaders to actively partner with all schools in constructing a new educational paradigm, founded on the certainty that every student can and will be successful when:
- School is a welcoming, safe place for all school community members to bring their whole identities with them
- Social emotional and behavioral supports are understood as critical prerequisites to academic learning
- Students’ primary and home languages are recognized as assets, cultivated, and leveraged
- Every educator in every role shares the responsibility for ensuring equity for every student and participates in equity education, both in teacher and administrator preparation programs and ongoing throughout their careers
- Families are meaningfully engaged as partners in their children’s education and welcomed into our schools
- All academic and non-academic programming is culturally responsive and co-constructed with community members
Examining racism and inequity is difficult work. As each student of Maine is a future citizen of our global society, we believe this is work that needs to be engaged in respectfully and civilly by all the schools and communities in our state. Understanding and addressing racism and inequity will take many different forms, all of which are valid and needed. Already many educators, school districts, and organizations are exploring this work in some of the following ways:
- Defining with school and community members what makes a safe and welcoming place for all and committing to the vision
- Reviewing your SAU’s Controversial Issues policy and best practices for engaging in discussions responsively and responsibly.
- Engaging community members in discussions and actions to ensure that schools are a safe and welcoming place for all students
- Engaging in equity audits to examine a variety of practices and programs
- Expecting all school personnel to engage in professional learning about anti-racism and culturally responsive practices
- Reviewing and revising curricula and materials to ensure they are well-rounded, decolonized, and representing all experiences
- Adopting anti-racism instructional practices, programs, and policies
- Establishing Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committees of stakeholders
- Establishing expectations that every student will achieve and is challenged with rigorous curricula
- Creating, supporting or amplifying student Civil Rights Teams within each school
We believe in the power and responsibilities that are bestowed on our educational institutions to provide a safe and equitable place in which all students can thrive, and where students are encouraged to examine their world, their beliefs and their role in society through multiple perspectives. We believe all students, all families, and all human beings deserve to be celebrated, included, and heard, and we are committed to supporting our schools and educators in taking on the challenge of examining and changing our practices.
We stand united in our commitment to this work and our support of the educators who are courageously stepping up and stepping into the learning, growing and changing that is needed. Our organizations will continue to provide resources, support and technical assistance as we all expand our own knowledge and capacity to engage in this critically important work on behalf of our students and our collective future.