A Letter to Our Community

Posted on June 10, 2020

The moms of Education First Shawnee Mission have spent much of the last few weeks listening and learning, while watching the recent stories of police brutality and the ensuing protests both locally and nationally. We are a small group of volunteers who have chosen to focus a large portion of our advocacy on education policy. However, many of us are also active in other social justice initiatives and have been focused on those efforts in recent days and weeks. While our board does include Indigenous voices, we are a group of primarily White women, and as White women, we have a lot of work to do to support anti-racist work and policy in education. Historically, education represents one of the most challenging areas of White privilege, and we are committed to working to advocate for policies that are anti-racist. As a state-registered PAC, EFSM’s primary focus is on elections and ensuring that pro-public education candidates are elected to our state held offices (the state legislature, state board of education, and governor) and our school board. We serve the Shawnee Mission School District community, which is becoming more diverse with more Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and immigrant students each year.  While we work diligently with the best intentions to serve our community, we often miss the mark. Therefore, we felt it was important for us to lay out our plan for how to continue in our growth as a young volunteer organization and make changes that allow us to make a positive impact. 

  1. We commit to continue the work of growing our EFSM board and adding more Black, Brown, and Indigenous voices. This is an area where we have failed. We must do better. EFSM is an all-volunteer organization, and we are actively recruiting for new members to join us either as supporters or as EFSM board members. If EFSM is to best serve our community, our board must reflect the diversity of our district. If you would like to nominate someone to our board, or are interested in learning how you can get involved, please email [email protected]
  2. We commit out loud to be an anti-racist organization. This requires daily work on our part. We will continue to pause and listen, while doing to work to learn more about our role in the creation and the dismantling of White supremacy. We will not attempt to lead in this space, but instead follow the teachings and leadership of people of color, especially those working in the area of K-12 education. We commit to amplify their voices using our platform.  
  3. We will continue to apply pressure to our leaders at the state and district level to update and amend policies that hurt our students, teachers, staff and families of color. We will continue to advocate against arming our teachers (which disproportionately puts Black and Brown children at risk). We will continue to push for Medicaid expansion. We will continue to hold our elected officials accountable when it comes to equitable funding in our public schools, ensuring those we endorse fully understand the difference between equity and equality. We will continue to include questions during our endorsement process that focus on anti-racist issues and insist that candidates answer these questions fully in order to be considered for endorsement. 
  4. We will personally and as an organization hold our District leaders accountable for how they work to ensure the SMSD is a safe place for all students to learn. We will push for specific action items from the board of education and District administrators on how they plan to move forward.

EFSM was founded in 2017 by a group of moms with little political experience. We got into this volunteer work because we saw what was happening in our public schools and felt the best way we could facilitate change is by encouraging people to vote for pro-public education candidates for elected office. We are no strangers to failure. As a young organization, we know we will continue to make mistakes and we often won’t get it right. However, fear of failing or criticism cannot and should not stop us from trying. We are humbly grateful for this opportunity to serve our community. We welcome your comments, your insight, your feedback, your critiques, and your support. 

Megan Peters, Chair – Education First Shawnee Mission

Education First Shawnee Mission Board of Directors

Liz Benditt, Jen Boles, Kristin Brown, Stacy Hetz, Elizabeth Kelly, Emily Robb, Jen Salvo