Letter from Superintendent Salim: May 22, 2018

Letter from Superintendent Salim: May 22, 2018
Posted on 05/22/2018

Dear CPS and CRLS Community:

I am writing to let you know about a national news story focusing on issues of race and equity in public education, told through the perspective of Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (CRLS) students. Last November, I was approached by a public radio reporter who wanted to do a long-form story inspired by the CRLS Black Student Union video, Minority Reports Vol. 2. The reporter, Rupa Shenoy, summarized her request as follows:

I cover race, identity, and the process of America becoming a multicultural-majority nation for The World. I'm imaging speaking to people at the district over the next several months for an in-depth audio piece that would be thoughtful, well researched, balanced, and fact-checked.
After much consideration, I agreed that we would participate. I had three compelling reasons for this decision:

  • I believe our students, and I believe in our students. CRLS has a long history of respecting and responding to student activism on any number of social justice issues. Students are impatient for justice, and this makes them a valuable moral compass. The BSU video has been used in trainings across the district, including a Leadership for Equity series that has been required for all Principals and senior district administrators. The voices of BSU members have made a powerful impact on our community.

  • I hoped the story would provide an opportunity to share the bold and unapologetic steps that we have taken towards equity in our school district. This includes innovative structural changes such as “Leveling Up” student expectations at CRLS and leading-edge practices in recruitment, hiring, and professional support to retain educators of color, through our Dynamic Diversity Development initiative.

  • As reported in the podcast, I believe that making ourselves vulnerable is the only way to become open to change. As much as we strive to hold ourselves to high standards when it comes to equity and social justice, our community is just as challenged by wider social forces as any other community in our country.

The story has now posted to the Otherhood podcast stream, and a shorter version will run on The World next week. It could be tempting to become distracted by specific details in the stories that are being told in these public forums. I want to encourage you instead to join our students’ outcry against systems and beliefs that are rooted in hundreds of years of U.S. history. As I wrote in an Op Ed for the Cambridge Chronicle this week, we didn’t create these structures of oppression, but it’s up to all of us to do something about them.

Many of you will listen to the stories and feel proud of CPS and our students for adding our voices to national conversations around racial justice. I want to acknowledge that others may find the story uncomfortable, or even painful because of your personal experiences. You may feel that in focusing on the students’ perspective, the story misrepresents the CRLS that you know, and that it fails to acknowledge your work.

I am hopeful that we, as a community, can grow stronger by pushing through this sense of discomfort. The work we are trying to do is difficult, and we won’t always achieve a sense of closure. The best thing that we can do, as members of a diverse community, is to listen to one another with compassion--and strive to learn from what we hear.

If you have any questions about the PRI story, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office via Communications Manager Rosalie Rippey, who facilitated our participation. I look forward to continuing these important conversations with you all in the future.


Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D.