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Alumni are asking the district to be actively anti-racist, change curriculum

A couple paragraphs into their letter to the Lake Oswego School Board, former Lakeridge High School students Parker Carnahan and Pei-Chen Choo make this statement: "Racism is taught." Then they go on to ask the district to do more in its efforts surrounding anti-racism.

The students' petition, which to date has about 150 community signatures, breaks its requests into two categories: academic and extracurricular.

The academic requests include changing curriculum so that all subjects, not just literature and history, have content relating to historical and present-day racism, and creating a class on systemic racism that all students must take as a graduation requirement.COURTESY PHOTO: PARKER CARNAHAN - PARKER CARNAHAN

"As a white person in the district I didn't feel the effects of the racism in the district myself," Carnahan said. "I think I can speak from experience in going through Lake Oswego School District that (diverse curriculum) was quite lacking."

They are also asking that the district commit to hiring diverse staff and refuse to tolerate racist rhetoric by faculty or students. Those who do should be subject to a system of accountability and consequences, the petition states.

"We just want to make sure that people are educated and have the tools to educate themselves," Carnahan said.

Their extracurricular suggestions include ending the presence of School Resource Officers in the district and dedicating a page of the LOSD website to racism, with the purpose of engaging the community.

Choo said that though she knows not all requests will get traction, she hopes the district will use the letter as a resource of recommendations for implementation over time. COURTESY PHOTO: PEI-CHEN CHOO - PEI-CHEN CHOO

"We realize that not all the points in the letter are going to be taken into account but we're hoping that some of the more important ones such as removing the school resource officers in the schools — that (those) actions will be taken in the school district," Choo said.

The students' petition comes on the heels of another petition, LO Change, which was started by teachers and community members, as well as the district's own resolution to commit to being anti-racist.

"I believe from reading the anti-racism resolution that it was put out with good intentions and it expresses well that the school board realizes that they need to take further action," Choo said.

"I do believe that part of it was put out as a response to everything and not particularity as a solid action plan," she said.

Choo and Carnahan's petition has been circulating in the community through word of mouth and social media posts. They've shared the letter with the Lakeridge Equity Council and Respond to Racism to garner additional support.

"Our biggest point is just that we believe the Lake Oswego School District can and should be doing more and in a more accomplishable way," Carnahan said.

You can view the letter and sign the petition here.

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