Equity action group underway at Falcon Heights Elementary

By Sarah CR Clark

Falcon Heights Elementary School is home to a year-old grassroots action group for children and their caregivers.

Falcon Families for Equity and Justice, or FFEJ, first gathered in March 2021 when Falcon Heights Elementary School principal Beth Behnke sought her school’s community for support in doing equity and justice work.

“We’re trying to be really responsive to things in the community and give kids a chance to use their voice as things arise,” explained Cari Kokotovich, one of several parents involved in forming the action group.

Over the inaugural year, about 20 Falcon Heights Elementary caregivers have regularly participated in the action group’s committee work and planning events.

“Initially she (Behnke) put a call out in the school’s weekly communication to see if any parents would be interested in connecting with her about doing anti-racism work,” Kokotovich, who has two children attending Falcon Heights Elementary School, said in a phone interview.

According to Kokotovich, the Roseville Area School District has set large equity goals for its school communities, prompting Behnke’s earlier call to parents and caregivers for help.

The group’s mission statement is: “FFEJ is a group of caregivers working towards creating a welcome and inclusive environment for all students and families at Falcon Heights Elementary School. We are committed to building a brave and safe space for all caregivers to be heard. We will challenge unjust systems. We will also increase support for families with children from historically and presently harmed, underrepresented and marginalized communities.”

Currently, FFEJ consists of four working committees. The Volunteer Service Committee provides opportunities to extend social-justice-focused service into the community. FFEJ’s most recent event, a Family Service Night April 5, was the work of the Volunteer Service Committee.

The Education Committee endeavors to provide opportunities for caregivers, staff, teachers and students to learn more about anti-racism and equity. Recently they have hosted a podcast group, inviting caregivers to listen to and then discuss the New York Times and Serial Productions podcast, “Nice White Parents.”

The last two committees, Policy and Community Action are responsible, respectively, for examining equity and racism data in the school and district, and for sponsoring and publicizing community events about equity and anti-racism issues. For example, that included the Feb. 12 solidarity march in response to the killing of Amir Locke in Minneapolis.

When asked about FFEJ’s upcoming events, Kokotovich responded, “This is our first full year of trying to figure out where we are as a group, and certainly we have a lot of growth. We’re hoping to use the rest of the spring to really reflect on this year and begin creating a solid plan heading into next year.”

Visit FFEJ’s website falconfamiliesforequityandjustice.wordpress.com for more information. 

Sarah CR Clark is a regular contributor for the Park Bugle.

Around 150 people attended Falcon Families for Equity Justice’s Family Service Night at Falcon Heights Elementary School on April 5.  Among many milestones from the evening; 250 books were collected for Minnesota Literacy and We WIN Institute, 500 snack packs were packed for MatterBOX, and kids created their own coin banks in order to continue the spirit of giving at home. Photo by Lou Michaels.

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