Multi racial teenage pupils in class one with hand up

SALEM — The Salem-Keizer School Board has voted to adopt a resolution outlining the board’s commitment to equity and anti-racism.

The Tuesday night vote was 4-2. The district is the second largest in Oregon with more than 40,000 students.

The Statesman-Journal reported the approval came despite public pushback for the resolution, which calls for the district to acknowledge that racism and white supremacy are a threat to students’ and employees’ physical and psychological health and calls for a commitment to being antiracist.

It also calls for the district to directly address an over-representation of students of color in special education, suspensions and expulsion.

“We commit to routinely interrupt systems of oppression on behalf of students and staff,” reads part of the pledge.

The building where the in-person board meeting was held was at capacity. More than 60 people sat inside the board chambers and dozens of others waited outside to speak or demonstrate in support or against the resolution.

Public speakers decrying the motion likened it to “Marxism” and shared worries that the resolution unfairly targeted white students and residents.

“I know that all schools teach values,” Linda Farrington, former school board candidate, said during public testimony. “But I don’t agree with the way the values are going. I do not support the equity resolution.”

Benny Williams, former president of the Salem-Keizer NAACP, gave public comment in support of the measure.

“This past spring was a historic day for this city and for this school board. This school board is reflecting a dramatic change that came citywide,” Williams said, referencing the election of four new diverse members to the board earlier in the year.

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