Mt. Lebanon High School graduate, Sam Blehar, class of 2014, started a petition on Change.org asking the Mt. Lebanon School District to include anti-racism education. Looking back, he sees now how black history, culture, and anti-racism were never taught and why it’s so important to include it. Read his letter in full below and sign his petition here.
Dear Dr. Steinhauer and the Mt. Lebanon School Board,
As an alumnus of Mt. Lebanon, I’m grateful for the education I received and the extracurricular opportunities that were available to me in this community. With that said, there is a specific area in which Mt. Lebanon education must evolve.
After the murder of George Floyd, I’ve been taking time to properly educate myself on white privilege and racism. I am ashamed that it took me this long to understand my own white privilege, recognize my ignorance on this subject, and see the implications that white privilege has on our society. I am still learning.
I strongly suggest that Mt. Lebanon – a school district that is 91% white – implements courses (across all subjects) not only on white privilege and systemic racism but also on the recognition and celebration of black culture as a cornerstone of American culture.
Your mission is “to provide the best education possible for each and every student.” Growing up, I thought I received that. However, now that I know better, it is clear that the school district’s curriculum fails to address an entire part of our oppressive history that is still a current reality.
In your school district, I was taught that slavery happened and ended. In your school district, I was taught that segregation happened and ended. I was not educated on white privilege, white supremacy, or systemic racism, nor was I taught that these issues continue to happen and segregate our country.
The society that we live in today is not fair. From a racial, educational, and economic perspective (among many others), our citizens are not treated as equals. If you find yourself questioning what I’m saying, just take a look at your student body and the Mt. Lebanon community at large. There is very little diversity.
You have the power to shape a student body that is not only aware of its privilege but is also actively anti-racist. It is not enough to be not racist.
Instead, Mt. Lebanon needs to teach its students to call out racism and injustice when they see it in others and to educate those who lack this awareness. You can shape students who will leave your community with the knowledge to create a safer and equal America. Don’t you want your students to be as aware as possible?
I, along with the alumni and community members below, urge you to make this change to the required curriculum at Mt. Lebanon School District. This could have a massive impact on Pittsburgh, the United States, and the world.
Sam Blehar – Class of 2014
The Citizen Alliance for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CADEI) — a community group whose mission is to ensure inclusive, culturally responsive practices for every student, family and educator in Mt. Lebanon School District — has also created a petition on Change.org. To read and sign CADEI’s petition — which is compelling Mt. Lebanon School District to commit to immediate goals for the 2020-2021 school year — go here.