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This new school district policy is an effort to fight racism and add diversity

Bellingham schools are moving to confront racism this year, part of a district-wide effort at cultural awareness that includes updating district policy and changes to wording of its signature “Bellingham Promise.”

Greg Baker, superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools, announced the effort to “disrupt racism” at a Tuesday, Aug. 27, meeting and in a message at the district’s website.

“This is meaningful and challenging work that can sometimes be uncomfortable, but I encourage all of us to be bold,” Baker said.

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Baker said staff members have been developing new approaches to equity, diversity and inclusion.

“The new policy directs us to continue to confront the institutional bias that results in predictability of student success or lack thereof, including but not limited to race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, language and culture,” Baker said.

In addition, the word “citizen” was changed to “individual” in the Bellingham Promise — a document that outlines the district’s mission, vision and core beliefs.

“We heard concerns from our community that the word ‘citizens’ could be misinterpreted, and that some may think we are excluding students and members of our community who are not U.S. citizens,” he said. “In an effort to be more inclusive, we have changed the word ‘citizen’ to ‘individual.’ ”

In his message, Baker said that the district’s efforts at equity, diversity and inclusion would be an ongoing process.

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