Letter to CoaH Community – September 8, 2020

Dear CoaH Community,

As we enter a school year like no other, we recognize the multiple levels of stress and trauma that has come about from the fallout of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic and the call for racial justice in the United States, and the centuries of events that have led to them. These stressors are particularly severe for Black, Indigenous and communities of color.

To continue on our journey to operating as an anti-racist, multicultural organization, we have made the following pledges for the 2020-21 school year: 1) We reaffirm our commitment to our Diversity, Inclusion, Citizenship and Equity (DICE) Initiatives; 2) We continue to promote Civic Engagement to empower our community; and 3) We remember those who have been lost to injustice around the country and world.

We Reaffirm Our Commitment to DICE

On June 1, 2020, we shared a letter to our community stating our solidarity with the community members who joined the protests in the Boston Common calling for racial justice in late May as part of City on a Hill’s Diversity, Inclusion, Citizenship, and Equity (DICE) Initiatives

As our students are settling into this unique year, we want to reaffirm our message from earlier this summer. We hear you. We see you. We will do what is in our power to help create a better world for our students. We will question, act, and avoid complacency in the face of oppression. We look forward to continuing to partner with you.

Like our June letter, we are also sharing additional resources for those in our communities who may be struggling:

We also want to share resources for allies and accomplices in anti-racism:

We Continue to Promote Civic Engagement

City on a Hill Charter Public School has a 26-year long history of promoting, examining, and participating in Civic Engagement through our school model which holds Citizenship as one of our pillars. At CoaH, this pillar is seen through several of our programs, including biannual volunteer days, inviting government representatives to campus for discussions and presentations, mock elections, and our City Project capstone for Seniors where they identify an issue they see in the City of Boston and pursue a 100-hour internship at a government or non-profit organization in an effort to learn more and propose solutions.

In all years, Civic Engagement is a priority for the City on a Hill Community, but particularly in a Presidential Election year. Throughout this school year, we will use our DICE framework to guide us as we live out our Citizenship pillar amplifying the voices of our students, families, staff and greater community of Boston and empowering us all to act and shape our communities to benefit the people who live there. Below, we have compiled a list of important information about the upcoming General Election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020:

IMPORTANT DATES:

  • September 29, 2020: First Presidential Debate
  • October 7, 2020: Vice Presidential Debate
  • October 15, 2020: Second Presidential Debate
  • October 17-24, 2020: MA Early Voting Period
  • October 22, 2020: Third Presidential Debate
  • October 25, 2020: MA Deadline to Register to Vote
  • October 28, 2020: MA Deadline to Request Ballot by Mail
  • November 3, 2020: General Election

HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE:

  • Previous Voters: For many people in the Commonwealth who have voted in Massachusetts in a recent election, you may still be registered, but the Commonwealth recommends checking your registration before requesting a Vote by Mail ballot or going to your polling place. You can use this tool from the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to see if you are still registered. If you are no longer registered, you can use this tool to register online, or fill out a Mail-in Voter Registration Form and send it to the City or Town hall in your place of residence.
  • First-Time Voters: Massachusetts allows online voter registration for all new first-time voters using this tool. This tool requires information from a State Driver’s License or State ID. If you do not have a license or ID, you can fill out and send a Mail-in Voter Registration Form to your local City or Town Hall. To be eligible to register in Massachusetts, you must:
    • be a citizen of the United States;
    • be a resident of Massachusetts;
    • be at least 16 years old (must be 18 years old to vote on Election Day);
    • not have been convicted of corrupt practices in respect to elections;
    • not be under guardianship with respect to voting; and
    • not be currently incarcerated for a felony conviction (though formerly incarcerated people’s right to vote is restored following their release).

HOW TO VOTE:

  • By Mail: In June 2020, Governor Baker signed into law a bill that ensured that all eligible voters of the Commonwealth are able to vote by mail. To request a ballot, you must fill out a Vote by Mail application and mail, fax or email the form to your local election office by October 28. You will then receive a ballot in the mail with a prepaid postage envelope to return via mail.  Note: The Commonwealth recommends that you request and return ballots as early as possible to allow for mail carriers to reach appropriate offices.
  • In-Person (Early): Massachusetts will offer the opportunity for early in-person voting from Saturday, October 17 through Friday, October 30. To find an early polling location in Boston, you can view the City of Boston’s Department of Elections early voting webpage. For those living outside of Boston, we recommend checking your city or town’s website and/or Clerk’s Office for additional information. Note: Early voting locations are often different from your typical polling locations.
  • In-Person (Election Day): To find your Election Day polling place, you can use this tool from the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

HOW TO FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS

  • What is the 2020 Census? The goal of the census is to count every person living in the United States, once, only once and in the right place. The Constitution mandates that this population and housing count occur every 10 years. Census data guide how more than $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year. You can use this tool to fill out your census.
  • How long will the 2020 Census questionnaire take? The Census Bureau estimates that completing the questionnaire will take 10 minutes on average.
  • Who should complete the 2020 Census questionnaire? This 2020 Census questionnaire should be completed by the person who owns or rents the living quarters or any other person who is at least 15 years of age with knowledge of the household

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

  • What is on my ballot? You can preview your ballot using this tool from the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. This ballot preview will list the names of all candidates for each respective office and how many candidates you may select (if there is more than one vacancy). Additionally, Massachusetts will have two ballot questions in the 2020 General Election: 1) an update to the 2013 Motor Vehicle “Right to Repair” Law (description here) and 2) implementation of Ranked-Choice Voting in Elections (description here).
  • Is voting by mail secure? Yes, experts agree that voting by mail has very low rates of fraud and Massachusetts has a tool to track your ballot on its roundtrip journey.
  • Is in-person voting safe during COVID-19? As with all person-to-person contact, there is always some risk related to COVID-19. If you are or live with someone who is part of a vulnerable population, we recommend voting by mail to reduce your chances of exposure. If voting by mail is not possible, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between others waiting in line, wearing a mask, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently. For more information about how your polling place is preparing to handle lines and sanitation of polling places, you should contact your local election office.
  • Where can I learn more about the candidates on my ballot? The best way to learn about a candidate is to review their platform on their campaign website. As we approach the election, many news and political sites also create comparison tools to help choose between candidates. As those become available, we will add them to this page.
  • How can I help to reduce voter suppression in our community? Combatting voter suppression is a complex, systematic issue, but as individuals we have the power to engage with those who have been historically disenfranchised by the election process, discuss issues relevant to our communities, and make voting plans which may include using resources like Lyft’s The Ride to Vote program. Additionally, if you are able to do so, we recommend applying to be a Poll Worker at your local polling location (particularly if you are multilingual) providing the capacity and inclusionary measures needed to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast their vote.

We Remember Those We’ve Lost

Sadly, 2020 has been a year where we have experienced an unconscionable amount of people to a highly politicized global pandemic, particularly those in communities of color. We remember the 186,000+ people who have lost their lives in the United States alone, and are doing our part to reduce the chance of transmission.

This loss of life is devastating in itself, but is also compounded by the deaths at the hands of racial violence. We remember:

Deon Kay. Layleen Polanco. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Jacob Blake. Atatiana Jefferson. Aura Rosser. Stephon Clark. Botham Jean. Philando Castille. Alton Sterling. Michelle Cusseaux. Freddie Gray. Janisha Fonville. Eric Garner. Akai Gurley. Gabriella Nevarez. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Tanisha Anderson. And countless others…

Finally, we want to reiterate that we understand anti-racism work to be a marathon rather than a sprint. These commitments, while our starting place for the school year, will be enhanced with additional initiatives, community discussions, and continuous feedback from our students, families, and staff. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions relating to our DICE Initiatives, please feel free to contact Jordan Pina, Chief of Staff, at jpina@cityonahill.org or Kevin Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, at ktaylor@cityonahill.org

In Solidarity,

CoaH Senior Leadership Team

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