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story.lead_photo.caption Parent Emily van Schenkhof addresses the Fulton Public Schools Board of Education. She talked about racial equity and how the board should address the topic in the future. Superintendent Ty Crain said it will be "part of the conversation" in the future. Photo by Olivia Garrett / Fulton Sun.

Outside of regular business, a Fulton parent addressed the Fulton Public Schools Board of Education on the issue of racial equity during Wednesday night's meeting in the Fulton High School commons.

FPS parent Emily van Schenkhof, who has two children in Fulton schools, requested the opportunity to address the board and spoke for five minutes. Van Schenkhof is the director of the Missouri Children's Trust Fund, a child-abuse prevention organization.

"I'm here today to talk to you about an issue — about how our school district can grow and change in ways that take real courage but that are necessary for the success of all of our children, particularly our most vulnerable children," van Schenkhof said.

She said she noticed disparities while researching testing scores for Fulton children. According to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data on the Missouri Assessment Program, a larger percentage of Black students in Fulton schools tested at below basic proficiency in math and English than white students.

"As a professional who has facilitated so many meetings, I have seen so many people my age that seem so uncomfortable and inexperienced talking about issues of racial equity," van Schenkhof said. "When we talk about race or racism, normally smart, courageous people seem to withdraw a little bit. They don't have confidence in their abilities to talk about these tough issues."

She said she would like to see more of an emphasis on creating spaces for conversations on racial equity.

"What I believe is that we actually as adults are fairly ill-equipped to have these important conversations that mean so much to our children's future," van Schenkhof said. "It made me start to think, could we do something differently for our kids? Do we have a possibility to equip them better than I was equipped when I was being educated however many years ago?"

She also spoke of the importance of promoting listening and ensuring curriculum encompasses Black history and the complexities of racism.

"We are a leader in our community and so we have power," Van Schenkhof said.

She said she hopes that Fulton can be a leader in the state and country.

"My experience as a parent is that Fulton Public School district is special," she said. "I believe that our children deserve for us to do whatever we can to solve these issues and to equip them to be able to solve the large problems of society."

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