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OSPA Anti-Racism Position Statement

The Ohio School Psychologist Association (OSPA) represents school psychologists throughout the state of Ohio who serve a diverse group of children and families. OSPA shares in the pain and outrage the community is experiencing as a result of the recent unjustified murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice and all other victims not specifically mentioned here. OSPA extends sincere condolences to the families and communities impacted by these events. These killings have underscored a history of structural racism, systematic oppression, injustice, and violence against Black individuals and persons of color in this country. OSPA stands in opposition to discriminatory and racist acts against persons of color.

Social justice, which involves addressing systemic barriers to equity and justice, is a core principle of the field of school psychology. OSPA believes that helping to address systemic barriers such as racism, prejudice, violence, poverty, and inequality is an important component of advocating for all children. In order to avoid perpetuating inequality of our students and families we serve, it is critical that school psychologists identify and take action against systems that preserve injustice and adversely impact communities across Ohio. In doing so, we can work together to ensure all students have access to an equitable and just education that prepares them academically and provides them the skills necessary to make meaningful contributions to society.

As a part of OSPA’s commitment to social justice and advocating for all children, we have dedicated an area on our website for considerations for helping to end discrimination against persons of color. Please visit ospaonline.org to review suggested resources on social justice, culturally responsive practice, and related professional learning opportunities as well as tools to continue to support parents and children. Furthermore, OSPA believes there are concrete actions in which educators can engage in order to improve equity for all children. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has recently outlined a number of considerations for educators in its recent press release, issued on May 29, 2020, entitled “NASP Calls for Action to End Racism and Violence Against People of Color.” Among the recommendations suggested were:

• Think critically about structures, systems, and policies that have historically marginalized some groups and caused long-term inequities.
• Recognize and understand the truth about racism and White privilege, and examine our own perspectives and implicit and explicit biases that contribute to perpetuating these systemic problems.
• Speak up when we see someone saying or acting harmfully to others; name it as racism when it is.
• Establish the knowledge and systems to recognize and address acute stress and trauma in students and staff who experience or are vulnerable to racism.
• Advocate for and engage in frank discussions about racism and privilege, and provide students and staff tools to combat it.
• Teach and reinforce nonviolent approaches to bringing about changes in public attitudes, policies, and behaviors.
• Advocate for public policies that address the destructive, systemic inequities of poverty and racism.

As stated in another recent anti-racism statement and social justice publications by NASP, school psychologists must ensure that all students view “back-to-school” as a positive growth opportunity, not one of risk or vulnerability. Additionally, we must be aware of and honest about our personal perspectives, cultural values, norms and expectations and how these may influence our professional practice. It is essential that we model acceptance and compassion in our words and behavior and foster resilience by teaching desired behaviors and helping children manage strong emotions in response to stressful events. Upon returning to school in the fall, we will have an opportunity to start fresh, to work together to create safe, inclusive school environments that are appreciative of cultural and individual differences in which all students can thrive. OSPA encourages all school psychologists to join us in continuing to promote constructive actions in order to meet the educational and mental health needs of Ohio’s students and families. Especially during these unprecedented times, please remember that we are all in this together.

Respectfully,

Ashley Lockemer, Ed.S, ABSNP - OSPA President

Bradley Paramore, Ed.S, NCSP - OSPA Past-President
Multicultural Affairs & Diversity Issues Committee Member

Emma Sacha, Ed.S - OSPA President-Elect
Multicultural Affairs & Diversity Issues Committee Member

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