LISD Superintendent Mark Estrada: a call for action
Dear Lockhart ISD Community,
As a school administrator for well over a decade, and as an administrator in Lockhart ISD for the past eight years, I have always strived to ensure equity and be supportive of every child and staff member that I have had the privilege to lead.
This personal mission has never been more important than at this time in which we find our nation hurting and navigating how to respond to seemingly countless incidents of racism that have gone viral including the story of Amy Cooper calling NYPD on a black man who posed no harm or threat to her, the killings of Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin, and most recently, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. While the incidents happened outside of our community, we are not immune as evidenced by the controversial conversations that spurred from these events and even vile examples of racist comments on social media.
Unfortunately, this week I received a message from a staff member regarding racist comments being made on social media involving Lockhart ISD students. The comments that were made both saddened and angered me. They were so hurtful and worrisome to many members of our Lion family.
I call on everyone to come together to denounce racism in our community–to lead by example and understand that our kids see and hear everything that we do in our schools, homes, around town, and on social media. This begins with listening to each other. There is a reason that we have two ears and one mouth. Let’s take this opportunity to learn from each other with open hearts and minds and listen more than we speak, especially when those who have been harmed are trying to express their experiences and beliefs. There are few skills more important than the ability to listen, learn from others, be respectful of others’ opinions, and find ways to work with diverse groups of people.
While running 2.23 miles in honor of Ahmaud Arbery or exercising your first amendment right to free speech and peaceable assembly are good ways to honor black lives lost too soon, we must do more for long-lasting change to end racism in Lockhart and across the world.
We must invest in children and realize that our system has issues that must be addressed. This includes macro issues like inequitable federal and state school funding systems to micro issues like practices and policies so ingrained in our schooling experience– such as grading practices, course selections, and discipline techniques, just to name a few– that we hardly notice the harm that they cause.
We began some of this important work two years ago with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, training campus leaders to address culturally based implicit biases that occur in the classroom and that are manifested through “micro messages.” While this was a good start, we can, must, and will do better. It is not enough to be non-racist; we must all strive to be anti-racist.
Part of the leadership definition for Lockhart ISD is the concept that we must first lead ourselves to better enable us to lead others. We must pause as a leadership team and seek to learn what we can do as individual leaders to better transform a system to dismantle systemic and historical barriers to ensure excellent and equitable outcomes for all of our students and equitable opportunities and support for our staff.
I want our students, staff, and parents to know that there is no place for hate and racism in our schools. While it is obvious that every student and staff member is equally important, during this time, it is especially important for our black students, families, and staff to hear that we support them during this difficult time and always–you matter greatly.
Further, we know first-hand how law enforcement ensures safety and security and helps build strong positive relationships between a community and the men and women who serve and protect. Lockhart ISD is proud of its solid partnership with Lockhart Police Department and are grateful for the job our Student Resource Officers do each day in our schools. We look forward to continuing to improve this resource to keep our schools safe and model for the next generation of Lockhart what a positive community and law enforcement relationship looks like.
Lastly, this weekend I stopped by Ace Hardware to purchase a new American flag that I proudly hang each day on my front porch. When I replaced my old flag with the new one, I spent some time reflecting on where we are as a nation and as a community. While we still have much work to do, I will never give up on doing my part to make sure every person in our country is afforded every opportunity that they are entitled to as an American and human being. I have dedicated my life to public education because I truly believe in the promises of our great nation and hope we can work together to make Lockhart ISD, and our greater community, a place that is free from hate and overflowing with love and opportunity.
At our core, one of the reasons why we #LoveMyLISD so much is our tremendous Lock”heart” for people, and because of this unifying strength, I am confident we will be successful in this important work for our students, families, staff, and community.
Superintendent of Schools