I am chapter leader for the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR).
The Mankato Area Public School Board, during a recent meeting, proposed policy changes. I am the most concerned about the following parts of Minnesota State Statute 122a.70, being considered by the Mankato Area Public Schools board for their Policy 466:
(2) financial support for professional learning community affinity groups across schools within and between districts for teachers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to come together throughout the school year. For purposes of this section, "affinity groups" are groups of educators who share a common racial or ethnic identity in society as persons of color or who are American Indian;
(c) ... Retention strategies may include providing financial incentives for teachers of color and teachers who are American Indian to work in the school or district for at least five years and placing American Indian educators at sites with other American Indian educators and educators of color at sites with other educators of color to reduce isolation and increase opportunity for collegial support.
I understand the desire for the school district to address issues of isolation and collegial support, but assuming that placing teachers together who share the same group identity will address that issue is a race-reductionist view of teachers, who deserve to be valued for their character.
I have learned so much from people who are different from me. They make my life richer and more fulfilling. There is value in placing people who look and think differently into collaborative groups, which will harness each other's creativity and create invaluable learning experiences.
Ultimately we are all Better Together. I only wish our leaders could see that.