For students here in Sarasota County, and students everywhere in the world, school is a place that is of fundamental importance. Education is a central part of our society, and functions as the vehicle through which students learn about society and the world around them.
I, like so many other students, value my experience at school. I am extremely fortunate to attend a school like Booker High School, which is a community that is bursting with diversity. Booker High School is a flourishing community that posits diversity and inclusion at every turn. At Booker, we are a community that is truly united. However, these feelings are dashed by the continued attacks of the school board and the outside community.
The Sarasota community continually attacks the fundamental beliefs that we uphold within our walls. The racism and bigotry that runs through this community pervades the safe walls of our school and infiltrates the community that we have worked so hard to build.
The Sarasota County School Board has reached a crossroads that will cause repercussions larger than they could ever know — the decisions they are making will affect students, parents, teachers, schools, our community, our society, and, even our future. The school board must decide if they should integrate content about race/racism into our curriculum and if they are going to give teachers cultural training.
I feel the answer is abundantly clear: the school board should absolutely integrate material regarding culture, racism, and Black Lives Matter in the curriculum for students, as well as in training for teachers. Learning about other cultures will allow students to be culturally conscious, to understand people who are different from themselves, and to respect others. Moreover, training teachers about other cultures will allow them to better understand and interact with all of their students. Moreover, BLM and racism must be included in our curriculum.
Now more than ever, it is abundantly clear that we need to raise the next generation of innovators and problem-solvers who will make our world better. We need to raise a generation that will be able to help fix the deficiencies our world currently faces. If we don’t teach the youth about BLM and racism, we will run the risk of raising another generation filled with bigotry and hate. If we don’t equip students with the tools and knowledge needed to end racism, our society will continue to disrespect, suppress, and harm people of color. If we don’t teach our children that black lives matter, we are continuing the vicious cycle that is already destroying our world.
We must allow these vital issues to be presented in our classrooms. The school board should encourage teachers to discuss issues like racism with their students and should add this content in any class where it is not included. The school board must not make these decisions based strictly on the short term — the school board must think about the future. They must make the decision that will benefit students in the future and will allow them to build a more inclusive community. They must make the decision that will change the culture of racism in Sarasota. They must make the decision that will change our lives — the lives of the youth, adults, and future generations — for the better.
Nora Mitchell is a sophomore at Booker High School and founder of Sarasota Students 4 Justice.