June 8, 2019
Opinion ~ Commentary
When looking to the greater context of our nation, it should be no surprise that we are having this conversation surrounding equity here in Lee’s Summit. As a singular community, it is easy to forget that we are part of something bigger than a school district and board of educators. Everything we decide and stand for creates a ripple effect for other communities to follow. It is up to us whether we use that influence to enact change or settle for the status quo.
I moved to Lee’s Summit the summer before my junior year of high school after being harassed by a peer to the point where I no longer felt safe. When I came forward to my administrators to ask for help, they did not live up to their promises of advocacy. My school valued their reputation, their pride, over the safety of their students. I was simply collateral damage in their effort to save face. My school’s reaction, or lack thereof, to my harassment was even more detrimental to my well being than the harassment itself.
After assimilating to my new life at Lee’s Summit North, these grounds were where I found the biggest difference. I have only known LSR7 under the leadership of Dr. Carpenter, which I find to have been a blessing. I had the opportunity to work with peers from all across the district on a student advisory council with Dr. Carpenter. This council was created to allow students the opportunity to use their voices to enact change in the district where they see fit. We had countless conversations about the inequity, racial, religious, or otherwise, that we collectively experienced as students and the improvements that could be made.
There are a plethora of opinions about what the intentions of our superintendent are or should be, but I hope I can provide some clarity. Although Dr. Carpenter works for the board, the board works for the students. The sole purpose of the board of education is to create the best environment for all of its students and faculty to thrive. We have students reaching out for help and a superintendent who is reaching back, but we cannot close the gap without the help of our board of education and the greater community.
Sometimes the hardest changes to make are the most important. Equity is not just a racial issue, and it is disheartening to see it be misconstrued as such. Equity in education is all about giving students what they need to be ready for their future, despite the varying backgrounds from which they come. We must look to the controversy surrounding our district as an opportunity for growth. Our community is on the cusp of creating change that is far greater than just LSR7.
With that being said, it must also be noted that in order to enact change that will reap longevity, we must do so with patience. Although this change is necessary, it will not happen overnight. Inequity is an issue that has debilitated our nation for its entire history, and Lee’s Summit is no exception to its ramifications. Dr. Carpenter has brought a prevalent issue to light, and we must continue the conversation that has ensued. More importantly, we must acknowledge the very existence of the inequity itself. The fact that many in our community have not been discriminated against does not invalidate the experiences of the marginalized. It is up to us whether we let this issue become a source of division or a catalyst for unified growth.
Resident of Lee’s Summit and 2019 Graduate of Lee’s Summit North High School