OPAL Statement in Support of Principal Harries

The Board of Directors of the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL) strongly supports the groundbreaking work that Nichols Middle School Principal Adrian Harries is doing to increase racial equity in his school community.

A flurry of pieces in the press beginning in December 2017, most recently an opinion in a business publication, has criticized Principal Harries for forming racial affinity groups among his staff in order to deepen conversation and advance racial understanding.

It is our hope that Dr. Goren and the District 65 Board will publicly express their own defense of and support for Principal Adrian Harries, who is courageously carrying out the equity mandate that the District has repeatedly endorsed verbally and in writing. We hope that Dr. Goren and the Board will support creative leadership with a resounding endorsement of this principal.

The latest piece adopts the dog-whistle tactic seen elsewhere of using the word "segregation" in its title to pretend to decry state-sponsored racial segregation. Clearly its real purpose is to halt racial equity work by Mr. Harries and his team even at the risk of damaging a respected educator's reputation and career. If the author were concerned about segregation in Evanston, we would expect him to write not about several dozen educators following their principal's lead but about the enduring segregation in Evanston's housing. It is our position that Evanston's neglect of educational equity has persisted for more than a century despite the City's often mentioned commitment to "diversity."

OPAL applauds Principal Adrian Harries for persevering in equity work that we view as crucial to helping Evanston become the equitable community it says it wants to be, and ought to be.