Letter from Solano County Superintendent of Schools, Lisette Estrella-HendersonJune, 2, 2020
Over the past few months, I have been inspired by the spirit of community binding our nation, state, and neighborhoods as we work collaboratively to address the impacts of COVID-19. The coming together of schools, our local governmental and public health officials, and the incredible efforts of teachers, support staff, our community, first responders and healthcare workers to support individual and public health, has been nothing short of heroic.
Over the weekend, we watched peaceful protests call for justice and equality after the killing of George Floyd. We saw thousands of people engage in nonviolent peaceful demonstrations. Conversely, we also witnessed media images of violence in our communities, and across America. As the Solano County Superintendent of Schools, my thoughts embraced our young people.
The recent images we have witnessed strike our hearts and cripple our senses. No matter how many times we see it, feel it and experience it, the ugly scourge of racism in our lives is much like the pandemic we’ve also been fighting. It’s still here.
Our children are looking to us to understand these events. As adults, we must teach them to stand up against injustice, racism and inequity. As young people turn to adults for answers, it is important that we listen and respond with honesty and empathy. The images they have absorbed on the news and social media may result in an array of emotions, including anger, fear and anxiety. We must help them address those feelings. Helping students recognize and acknowledge their emotions can be a powerful tool in turning these events into a learning experience that prompts lasting change.
As an educator, it hurts me to know there are inequalities and opportunity gaps in our systems that mirror what we know exist in our society. It is our moral duty as educators to recognize the issue, name it for what it is, and be unafraid to have the difficult conversations with our students and families about fighting implicit racism, injustice and inequality. We need to model for our students the values of unity and equity. We need to stay together and promote love, compassion, justice and equality. We must stand up and let our voices be heard, in a responsible and productive fashion. As a community, we can make change for the better – it is our moral imperative.
Ultimately, we must look out for each other, continue to create safe spaces for our youth, and teach and protect our vulnerable, impressionable young people. The Solano County Office of Education is committed to continuing our work to promote and practice equity-minded leadership and culturally responsive teaching with a social justice mindset throughout our county. This has been ongoing work over the last several years and is foundational to what we must continue do for our youth and our community.
My hope is that we keep our focus as a community and come together as one in support of a brighter tomorrow for our children. Our children’s futures depend on the actions we take today,
together, in respect of our humanity.
In Peace and Community,
Solano County Superintendent of Schools