As a student in the Corvallis School District from 2003 to 2015, I could rarely go a day without feeling a deep sense of isolation and subjection from regular racist comments and systemic issues regarding policy and curriculum.
I did not trust the staff to address racism. “The school board” sounded like a distant pantheon of Greek gods assembled on Mount 35th Street to issue their edicts.
I recently helped organize some community advocacy to address racism in the theater program and problems with an Oregon Department of Education rule. Based on prior experience, I expected a fight. Instead, CSD supported these efforts.
In the last few years, I have seen CSD increasingly put historically marginalized communities at the center of its work, and much of this can be attributed to a change in tone from the top with the addition of Dr. Sami Al-Abdrubbah and Dr. Luhui Whitebear to the school board.
These members have advocated for policy that will empower minoritized students. They have acted on the belief that diverse community engagement is central — not peripheral — to policy and operational change. During our rule change advocacy, Sami shared our concerns with stakeholders and attended our meetings with ODE. During our theater equity advocacy, Sami helped us navigate board policy.
I am jealous of current CSD students, who have a board that deeply cares about student voices, racial equity and transparency and has become much more accessible to the community. Please elect Sami Al-Abdrubbah and Luhui Whitebear this May.