Responding to Today’s Verdict

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

Responding to Today’s Verdict

To our Oregon education community,

Today, we continue to mourn the death of George Floyd.

We are standing with the people who are most affected by the Chauvin trial and the verdict. As this has been unfolding in recent weeks, we know there are many who are reliving deep trauma while also attempting to work, teach, learn in school, parent, and make it through day-to-day life. No matter what we think a person's reaction should be to the guilty verdict, the harm and hurt isn't going away overnight. So, let’s take care of each other with grace, patience, and empathy.

In Oregon, people have varying understandings of the meaning behind this particular verdict, but it is a historic moment of high visibility that holds lessons for us all because the ripple effects will affect us all—and generations of our children to come. 

Even with a guilty verdict, there is still a hard truth we all need to face: In this situation, one man had access to a trial and another did not. One man was protected by our public safety system and the other was not. Confronting this reality comes with a moral and ethical imperative that basic, fundamental human rights must surpass politics and shape our way of being in the world where hate is far too prevalent.

When we hear from our school communities about the extreme pain and fear caused when hate surfaces, we know that silence and inaction only allow racism to remain prevalent. Instead, proactively moving forward policy, curriculum, and classroom conversations will help ensure that Oregon schools can have a future free from hate and violence. We  consistently hear from our students that we need to be ready to talk skillfully and thoughtfully about difficult topics and events when they come up. Without that, silence and racism continues and damages the culture of our schools as well as our students' mental health and ability to access education and learning.

In our schools, children learn about ethnic studies, civic engagement, the criminal justice system, our government, and explore and choose paths that will shape who they become.  Some students’ paths are limited or impacted by racism and inequity, and that’s what we’re battling at a systemic level. At a personal and institutional level, it’s possible every day to open up doors of mutual understanding, accurate and culturally relevant histories, and new ways of thinking about how to better care for this world and each other.

ODE has hope in the future of public education, overcoming systemic racism built-in to our systems, and in our collective ability to demonstrate that each and every student can be free from hate, fear and violence. As we search for hope in trying times, we can see it firsthand in the young people who are leading the way towards a brighter shared future—so that each and every child can grow up and reach their full potential. 

In our schools, EVERY student belongs. Black Lives Matter.


With care for all those we serve, 

Colt Gill

Director of the Oregon Department of Education


Resources for students, families, and staff experiencing  trauma: