My name is Erin Lipsker and I am a mother, an educator, and a bi-racial woman from Spokane. I’m asking for you to act in solidarity with me today so that today’s students of color do not experience what I did in school but instead feel seen, heard, and understood by their teachers.
Growing up in Spokane. I struggled to navigate the racial climate around me. I felt confused when I was called a mut or an oreo by classmates. I was scared when I showed up in 6th grade and the boys in my class made swastikas out of gym tape and put them on their shirts. I was embarrassed when a group of girls told me that I was pretty “even for a brown girl”, and I was ashamed when other people of color negated my stories because I was “too light-skinned to get it.” Most of all, I felt alone in school because my teachers & school counselors could not understand what I was going through and did not know how to address direct or indirect forms of racism.
Tomorrow is the deadline for the Washington House Education Committee to pass SB 5044, a bill that will ensure those working within the school system are given the tools to best meet the needs of our amazing student body. It will add equity, diversity, inclusion, and antiracism curricula to existing cultural competency training for school board directors, district staff, and school staff.
I’m a volunteer with Stand for Children, and in their statement of solidarity a few days ago, the Stand team made it clear that they are “committed to fighting for policies that ensure students of color feel safe and affirmed in our schools.” I’m proud to stand with them - that’s why I took time to give personal testimony last month to our legislators about this bill in particular:
Teachers like me are asking for help. In a survey conducted by EdWeek last summer, 84% of teachers said that while they want to teach from an antiracist perspective, only 14% feel well-equipped to do so. Please support students, educators, and families by urging legislators to pass SB 5044 out of committee.
Bill sponsor Senator Mona Das is right: “If we do nothing, structural injustice in our education system will continue to result in disparities – who graduates, who gets disciplined, who can access AP courses. Educators see that problem and want to be part of the solution.”
We need legislation like SB 5044 to help us educators learn how to best care for our students and how to give students the support they need to succeed. Thank you for your time and for standing with me as we stand up for students, educators, and our collective humanity.
Standing with you,
Stand for Children Washington