E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. For nearly 240 years these words have been our nation’s motto. They apply to Des Moines Public Schools, too. With nearly 40,000 students, teachers and staff, we are an organization comprised of people from many diverse cultures, backgrounds, languages, experiences, beliefs, and opinions.

January 6, 2021 will forever be a dark day in the history of the United States. The violent, criminal attacks at the U.S. Capitol were an affront to the very premise of E Pluribus Unum. As educators, the importance of teaching both civics and civility, including the ideals behind our democracy, has never been more critical. As a school district, we must live up to our commitment to equity and our vision of becoming the model for urban education. And to our students who are concerned or even scared by these events, please know that we are here for you. Together, we can make sure there are brighter days ahead.

DMPS is proud to be a member of the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization that advocates for the nation’s largest and most urban school districts. We echo and share their statement below in response to the insurrection that took place in Washington, DC.

School leaders, teachers, and educators from the nation’s urban public schools condemn the actions of the violent rioters who stormed and desecrated the Capitol at the encouragement of our president and his enablers. Make no mistake—this was not only an attack on the Capitol building, but on democracy itself. Citizens of the world are watching this display of lawlessness with shock and horror as the world’s beacon of civility — the shining “city upon a hill” — is reduced to a crime scene.

Public school educators everywhere teach our children to respect our leaders, our institutions, and the process by which we as a nation choose our representatives, and we weep now at the loss of innocence and trust these events have wrought. Defiling our capitol and disrupting the work of the people’s House and Senate in an effort to overturn a free and fair election is a betrayal of our founding principles. Unfortunately, we are in this position because our president has lied repeatedly to the American public about who won this election and has promoted the treasonous notion that people should take matters into their own hands in attempting what is nothing short of insurrection.

As we struggle to help our children understand how this happened and what it means, we should be clear about our collective outrage and our commitment to restoring peace and democracy in the months and years to come. Our students have lost so much over the past year, and now they must reconcile what they have been taught about the ideals of our democratic nation with the criminal attacks they are witnessing unfold in our capitol. The process of rebuilding and healing our country is now the great challenge of our lifetimes, and the nation’s public-school educators welcome our responsibility and charge to work toward a brighter future on behalf of our students and our country.

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