Dear North Allegheny Community,
One month ago, more than a dozen speakers shared their testimonies and spoke out in support of NA For Change’s anti-racist policies. Empowered students, frustrated parents, and concerned community members made the urgency of our mission clear; we must take immediate and long-term action as a district to transform schooling and its environment. Along with those who spoke, many more educators, students, caregivers, and community members listened. Their virtual attendance and action on social media have placed our demands at the forefront of the district’s attention, and we are thankful for the support we have received since then. While we hoped to see sooner developments from the school board and administration in response to our letter and its corresponding addendum (which have garnered almost 2,000 signatures), we are sympathetic to the unknowns brought about by COVID-19 and understand the complications in coordinating back-to-school plans. At the same time, we urge that the district must do more 1. to respect every student and family affected by racism in the district and 2. to ensure that the devastating testimonies in our letter detailed here do not continue. This being said, we would like to inform our supporters and the public about our organization’s workings and successes since our last major public declaration:
- On July 2nd, we held a meeting with NA central administration (which included NA’s Human Resources Director, Director of Student Services, Assistant Secondary Superintendent, Curriculum Director, Director of Technology Services, and Director of Facilities) and a principal from each educational level representing elementary, middle, and high school levels. At this meeting, we discussed the timeline of our Addendum to Letter to North Allegheny on Anti-Racism and outlined first, second, and third-year policy goals. We emphasized that the proposed changes are not only feasible but absolutely necessary for the school district to move forward.
- On July 12th, we co-sponsored a Virtual Concert for Racial Justice with the NA Social Justice Club and the Multicultural Student Union to fundraise for four organizations in Pittsburgh: 1Hood, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, SisTers Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Promise. We heard the voices and talents of North Allegheny students, past and present, and learned about youth activism from 1Hood Representative, Miracle Jones, along with others. We have raised nearly $7,000 and are still accepting donations here or via Venmo @NASH-MSU-1.
- We have scheduled a meeting with the North Allegheny School District for August 5 and are expecting to receive a formal response to our letter’s demands and the research that supports them in our letter’s Addendum. Again, although we would have liked to set a sooner date to prioritize issues of diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism in the school district, we remain focused on making the most out of current outstanding circumstances.
- We recently released a guidebook for other students and alumni interested in starting their own homegrown movement. It reviews how-to’s when it comes to organizing events, social media, policy-writing, and working with school administrations/school boards, etc. We hope this resource serves to make youth activism less daunting and more do-able.
- We have continued to post regular mini-lessons on our social media platforms (IG @naforchange, FB NA For Change) to teach our followers about social justice issues, namely discrimination, diversity, and anti-racism. These platforms, along with our website, have allowed us to begin teaching what we are confident can be taught in the classroom.
- We are currently in touch with other student leaders in the greater Pittsburgh area and are planning more projects that will be announced as they develop.
We are thankful for the overwhelming support we have received and are determined to make the most of it. Please know that we are working hard every day to promote NA For Change–whether through social media or virtual meetings. While we are navigating an exceptionally challenging time in American history, these challenges have encouraged us to study a rich history of youth activism. With students and families at the forefront, we hope that North Allegheny will collaborate with us in good faith and uphold its high standard. As we have said before, we believe affluent districts like North Allegheny have an obligation to maximize their resources to benefit students’ academic and societal potential. We are in this for the long haul and appreciate everyone’s patience and enthusiasm while we work to further our cause.
NA For Change