Dear CalSPRA Members,
The California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA) stands in solidarity with our black members, friends, colleagues, students, staff, and communities, and their allies. As an influential educational organization with a powerful voice throughout our state and nation, we are committed to not only listening, learning, and sharing the important voice of our black communities, but to take action to help end institutional racism and educational inequities in our country. We have an obligation and an opportunity to help end the racial divide and to help unite and heal. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Our role in education has never been more important.
If we don’t pivot, we will not see that a movement is happening. A human race movement. A movement that will redefine the way we treat each other, respect each other, and simultaneously honor the lives of those lost, most recently, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We have an incredible opportunity and responsibility as school public relations professionals to be stewards of this change, and to truly examine what the system looks like in regards to equity, inclusion, and addressing racism and implicit bias and its role and residence in public education.
Public relations is a strategic function of leadership, and all of you — all of us — have a position of power and voice through our roles on district or county leadership teams. We have an opportunity to be the voice to strongly say that “black lives matter.” And matter is the minimum; we should be reaching for more. We need to be the allies and the voices to stand up to racial injustice and recognize the role we play in making a systemic change, if we start with how we address it through action in public education. As the voices of your organizations, you can ensure all communications and their corresponding actions align in moving toward real progress.
We know the last few weeks have been a flood of emotions. But we also know that we are in the midst of a major movement, and our students, staff, and communities are watching to see what we do. Or what we don’t do. What we say and what we don’t say. We hope that you will stand with us, across the state, on behalf of our chapter, to say that we can all do better, and then define what specific actions we will take to implement these changes. Let the conversation begin and then let’s have follow up and follow through.
As a CalSPRA board, we are committed to doing our part to reflect and take real action as an organization, both within our own systems and processes, and for being a voice of change and advocacy within our membership, state, and nation. All of our members and the students, families, staff, and community members in our school districts and counties deserve to see action and we will do our part. At our annual retreat this summer, our board will discuss and commit to specific actions through our updated strategic plan and begin communicating and implementing them immediately. If you have any thoughts or specific actions you would like to share with us, we want to hear them. Please email CalSPRA president Jennifer Dericco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meanwhile, here is a great resource to help you get started: Doing Better in Supporting People of Color in PR (SDSU Glen Broom Center). We also invite you to join former CalSPRA president, Stephen Nichols, as he leads an NSPRA member town hall this Friday, June 12 at 11 a.m. titled “Platform for Change” (register here) and will include discussion about racial injustice, system oppression, implicit bias, and how these issues affect members and the communities we serve.
Remember that we are in this together and, as a collective group, we can make a change that will benefit everyone. Education is powerful. You are powerful. CalSPRA will be powerful in change.
Jennifer Dericco, APR, President
Matthew Jennings, President-elect
Kindra Britt, Past President
Jessica Hull, Secretary
Ryan Foran, Treasurer