I've never been much of an organization man. Which, I suppose, now needs to be phrased as "organization person." Regardless, I can recall numerous instances when I haven't been shy about rocking an organizational boat when I felt that was deserved.
So I get inspired by people who do this in their own way. Probably most of us do. There's something about an individual, or a small group, standing up for values they believe in against a more powerful entity that resonates in most hearts and minds.
We admire underdogs of the canine variety who aren't afraid to bare their teeth and snarl at the big German Shepherd. We love movies about a solitary crusader who takes on a malevolent corporation. We applaud musicians who share songs of protest with us.
And because this is a Church of the Churchless blog, I never tire of hearing about members of a religion who risk ostracism, or worse, by speaking out about bad things happening in their faith.
Thus it isn't surprising that I was energized last night by watching on You Tube a meeting of the Salem-Keizer school board here in Oregon that I thought would be considerably less interesting than it turned out to be.
Students in the school district, which is the second largest in the state, have been engaged in Black Lives Matter protests for several weeks or more. They've been calling for the removal of school resource police officers for reasons that make a lot of sense.
Last night the school board, which currently is dominated by conservatives, met to approve a $1.5 billion budget that includes money for the school resource officers. I decided to watch the meeting online because I'd written on my Salem Political Snark blog about the Salem City Council addressing this issue, since the Police Department supplies some of the officers for that program.
But the school board meeting turned out to be gripping, filled with drama. I wrote about it today in "Superintendent calls out Salem-Keizer school board for not being anti-racist."
Along with the students who called, with good reason, for the resignation of two school board members, the heroine of the evening was Superintendent Christy Perry.
She stood up against the school board in a marvelous message that she read near the beginning of the meeting. This was a surprising moment, as I noted in my blog post about the meeting.
The good news is that after the low point of Heyen's self-absorbed opening remarks, I was mesmerized by a powerful statement from Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry.
It was amazing.
I've included the entire statement at the end of this post, boldfacing parts that stuck out for me. Perry courageously criticized the school board for their weak-kneed responses to student demands in the wake of weeks of Black Lives Matter protests here in Salem.
Here's a few excerpts to whet your appetite for reading the whole statement.
We have provided opportunities to help understand our own biases. Our board members barely engage in the training. We have instances of social media display of white supremacy, a black face mask and mockery over that mask. All actions I can’t defend.
... I will advocate for Director Blasi as your next board chair because she is one of the few leaders who have at least the embers of trust from our communities of color.
... I am so committed to this, that I will only continue to do this work if I can have will and the strength to do this even if it means calling you out.
... I commit to the vision for creating the conditions for safe and welcoming schools, especially for our students of color, which includes an antiracist agenda and truly listening to our communities of color. I urge you to reaffirm your commitment to my contract as well knowing full well my support for anti-racist learning.
Really gutsy of Perry.
The school board hires and fires superintendents. Yet she was willing to publicly call them out for failing to do their duty to protect and serve students of color and other disadvantaged students. I liked her statement that she wants the board to reaffirm their commitment to her contract.
Sure, it's fair to say that Perry, being the Superintendent, is a powerful person who was speaking truth to other powerful people on the school board. But that doesn't take away from her inspiring message.
Most people reading this post will have no interest in the Salem-Keizer School District. However, I urge you to read Perry's message by clicking on the continuation to this post if you have any interest in those who stand up for their values even when this is risky for them. Again, I've boldfaced parts that I found particularly moving.