Marshall Baker

Stillwater Board of Education

To the editor:

Recently, Riley Flack submitted an opinion piece targeting the recent hiring of a Diversity and Equity Administrator for SPS. I am confident the majority of Stillwater citizens could see through the inaccuracies and untruths, but I thought a response to such a piece was warranted to avoid an incite of fear, hatred, and division.

I have served public education for over 15 years. I was the principal for Lincoln Academy and Stillwater Junior High. I have seen students of all creeds, races, abilities, religions, and identities find their way in life…while at school. My life’s work is ensuring every student, your children and mine, feel a sense of belonging and worth. For the past 10 years I have been researching and growing in my knowledge and understanding of the importance of all persons having an opportunity to be heard and represented, including in tangible and practical ways on administrative teams.

SPS serves a diverse group of students: 62.9% identify as white, 14.4% Two or More Races, 10.2% Hispanic, 4.5% Black, 4.4% American Indian, 3.6 Asian/Pacific Islander, 42.7% are Economically Disadvantaged, 4.8% are English Language Learners, and 14% come to school with a disability. Until the Diversity and Equity position was added this past week, SPS had no dedicated administrator to represent the nearly 40% of our diverse student population. My support of the position comes from a place of love and concern for your kids – all of them. Our students of diversity deserve a representative attuned to hear and represent their voice, just as our majority students should continue to be represented.

I am not perfect – these issues are difficult, charged, emotional, and impact our kids. I feel the weight of every vote. I see your kids and our teachers when I vote. I have offered to have coffee and hear the perspective of Mr. Flack. Unfortunately, he declined a civil opportunity to listen, connect, understand, and share. I want his kids to flourish and feel affirmed in our buildings. Let’s engage kindly around these tough issues – I welcome civil discussion and discourse.

Let’s do better together.

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