At a time when silence speaks volumes, New Hanover County Schools (NHCS) refuses to be mute. As a district, we denounce racism, white supremacy, hatred, and affirm that black lives matter. The most recent murders of unarmed Black citizens, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd have further divided our nation and shined a bright light on the systemic racism in our country. We must speak directly to the traumatic events that are surely on the minds of everyone in our community. We, as a nation and as a community, cannot allow for acts of racism and injustice to continue.
We understand that as an educational system, we have a unique responsibility in fostering acceptance, understanding, and love in our community and its members. We embrace that responsibility. Over the past several weeks we have watched events unfold around the country as citizens in every state have exercised their right to protest. A generation of Americans is standing up against the impacts of implicit bias and systemic racism. No matter how long these demonstrations last, we know that no fire can ever be contained that originates from the embers of ignorance, prejudice, and hate. We pledge all of our energies to extinguishing those embers permanently in New Hanover County.
In the wake of the events happening throughout our country, the district has become intentional about having difficult and uncomfortable conversations on race. NHCS has an opportunity to be a leader in the pursuit of equity and the fight against injustice. The conversation regarding the dismantling of systemic racism in our county and beyond is important, loud, and very necessary. We are focused on inclusion, and will continue to strive to support the academic and personal success of all students.
For nearly two years, New Hanover County Schools Equity Work Group has identified disparities and gaps within our education system. With the formation of the Board of Education Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee in 2019, members of both groups have undertaken the task of creating equitable educational practices within our schools. We’ve increased the presence of educators of color within our schools, lowered the number of disciplinary actions against marginalized students, and maximized the percentages of students of color in honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes, as well as NHCS specialty programs. Educators, administrative staff, bus drivers and child nutrition staff have undergone Implicit Bias Professional Development and Groundwater training. Our principals and teachers are participating in book studies to become better culturally responsive educators.
The district as an education system has a vital role to play. We will ensure that we celebrate our diverse community through growing a sustainable environment that embraces inclusion, provides equitable opportunities and affirms our humanity. NHCS rallies behind our Black educators, students, and community. We are here to offer support, listen to your voice, learn from your experiences, and be your ally. The policies, procedures, and the overall environment of New Hanover County Schools will reflect that.