Aspen teachers support equity and principal

Aspen Education Association is the official representative of over 170 staff members at Aspen School District. We serve all our members regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or identification, ability, ethnicity or identification with any marginalized or underrepresented group. We also support our students and welcome them to our learning spaces no matter their backgrounds.

In this pursuit, the Aspen School District and Aspen High School have formed teams to support equity in our schools and community. We read with dismay the highly politicized op-ed by state school board member Joyce Rankin regarding a survey offered to students at AHS.

We stand behind AHS Principal Sarah Strassburger’s response in her guest column (“State board of education representative off mark on Aspen High survey,” April 11, The Aspen Times) and applaud the district’s focus on equity. Our students deserve the ability to express who they are and what they believe. The optional survey gave students the opportunity to express whatever belief they hold about a variety of subjects, or to opt out of a question or the survey entirely. Teachers at AHS heard from students how much they appreciated the opportunity to express their feelings of self, and to let AHS staff know how they are treated in our schools via a safe and anonymous setting.

Ms. Rankin’s op-ed focused on the fact that students were exposed to inclusive language around sexual preference, sexual identity and the equity-minded terms “anti-racist” and “anti-homophobic,” which she changed in her article to less inclusive terms. Further, she objected to students being able to identify their religious beliefs from a wide variety of options. While Ms. Rankin might personally object to people of different races, sexual orientation or identity, or religions, our public schools are and must remain open to protecting students and staff members of all backgrounds with inclusivity and without bias, regardless of personal beliefs.

The Aspen Education Association firmly supports the work of the district and school equity teams and the administration of AHS in their efforts surrounding equity.

Aspen Education Association

Representative Council