Photo of Dr. Susan Enfield by Scott Schaefer.[/caption] Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield sent out a letter to families this week, clearly inspired by this year’s divisive Presidential campaign (cough cough Trump), and extolling the district’s stance on tolerance, pride of diversity and other inclusive elements. During the current election campaign, proposals for a wall on the border with Mexico, as well as banning Muslims and a marked increase in racism, intolerance and even hatred and violence has left indelible marks on our country’s psyche, which is trickling down into our communities and school cultures. In the letter Enfield references a ‘Statement of Solidarity‘ from the Highline High School student International Rescue Committee (IRC), which states in part:

“The IRC of Highline High School stands in solidarity with immigrant and refugee communities that feel scared, unwelcome, unwanted, or in danger. “We call on our administrators, teachers, staff, student body, and community members to stand with us in our commitment to inclusion and justice for all people.” “We believe that nobody should judge others because they have not been in their situation; they have not walked in the shoes of these people. We believe that we should respect people the way that we want to be respected. “As HHS IRC, we strive to live out the promise of the American ideal! This letter is an outstretched hand to all immigrants and refugees, their families, and their friends – as they are – welcoming them here.”
Here’s Enfield’s full letter (download/view PDF here):
March 21, 2016 Dear Highline Families, We in Highline pride ourselves on the diversity of our community. We know that the rich cultures and languages of our students and families are not only an asset, but also an integral part of our shared identity and experience. As the U.S. presidential campaign gains intensity, we find ourselves living in a political climate that is becoming increasingly divisive and disturbing for many of us. Some of our students feel afraid for their safety because of what they are hearing in the news. Some have been taunted, teased or ridiculed by others who are acting on what they hear. This is unacceptable. Regardless of our own political affiliations or beliefs, every Highline staff member has an obligation to you, our students and families, to ensure you feel safe, welcomed and respected at school. We commit to intervene when we see or hear offensive, bigoted words and actions. We commit to communicate, daily, to each of our students that our promise of knowing them by name, strength and need means that we will protect, advocate for and value them equally no matter their race, language or ethnicity. As is so often the case, I have found my greatest role models for tolerance and courage not in those who hold, or aspire to, positions of power, but rather in our very own Highline students. I want to share a Statement of Solidarity from the Highline High School Student International Rescue Committee. These remarkable students inspire and challenge each of us to “respect people the way that we want to be respected [and] strive to live out the promise of the American ideal.” I encourage you to read and share this powerful, honest statement with your children, family and friends knowing it represents the best of who we are as a school system and community. I have asked our staff to be especially mindful of the safety, security and sense of belonging our children and young adults feel right now, and I ask you to partner with us in that. Let your school’s principal know if you see or hear anything that concerns you. Highline students are brilliant, beautiful and brimming with promise, and we recognize that they need our protection, advocacy and reassurance now more than ever. This is our moral obligation as educators. We are Highline–all of us. Sincerely, Susan Enfield, Ed.D. Superintendent