NAESP Statement on National Uprisings In Response To Police Violence Against African Americans

Principals must navigate equity, trauma, grief, and social-emotional learning

Alexandria, VA—June 2, 2020—In this time of angst and turmoil as the nation reacts to the compound impact of the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the long history of police violence against other African Americans, and the ensuing uprisings in cities across the nation, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) stands in support of elementary and middle-level principals as they navigate their role in ensuring equity and attending to the social and emotional needs of the students they serve.

The recent violence against African Americans and uprisings are grief triggers that highlight the trauma of inequality and discrimination and the resulting impact on the mental health and wellbeing for students, families, teachers, and principals alike. Community members look to school principals as a beacon of hope and inspiration when communities are being tested in times like these.

Principals—who research says are among the most trusted professionals—are tasked with advancing culturally responsive teaching and learning, which includes not only welcoming diversity in the classroom but also teaching students how to navigate an increasingly racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse society.

We also know that schools are becoming more racially segregated, that achievement gaps still persist, and that approximately 80 percent of principals and 80 percent of teachers are white, while the majority of students are racial minorities. Especially because of this imbalance, we urge school leaders to prepare themselves to lead equity in their school communities by deepening their understanding of the impact of race, racism, white privilege, inequality, and police violence.

NAESP values diversity in our culture and believes discrimination must be eliminated, and we stand ready to support principals with the resources they need to ensure their teachers and students gain a greater understanding of the impact this violence has on affected communities and to offer a safe space in which they can process their emotions. Now is the time to recommit to advancing SEL and ensuring we provide the resources to fully support those students experiencing trauma.