At NSPRA, We Own Our Mistakes

Own your mistakes. It’s a key tenet of great communications, and as the National School Public Relations Association, it’s something that we should both preach and practice. So, we’re owning a mistake: a message we issued last week that focused on sadness and empathy for our school communities and echoed the frustrations of peaceful protesters urging justice on many fronts, but fell short of articulating a strong enough message against racism, injustice and inequality.

We missed the mark in that message and in so doing caused harm, especially to our Black members and colleagues, and for that we apologize. We left implied what should have been crystal clear. So, let us be clear. NSPRA stands against racism of any kind.

We want to be part of a solution, not a perpetuation of a problem that has existed for generations. We want our Black members to feel supported and to know that they have a voice in our organization. We want them to know that we not only see them, we hear them and stand with them. The names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans who came before them must be a stark reminder and call to action for those of us working in public education. We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to be part of the solution and not part of the problem in our own communities.

While not included in the writing of last week’s message, the individual members of the NSPRA Executive Board are collectively distraught at the systemic injustice Black people have faced across generations and want to be a part of the change that is long overdue. NSPRA is an association whose members include many Black professionals who are actively engaged in work to eradicate racism and build equity in their communities, but who are experiencing the events of the past few weeks differently than any of our other members. We cannot possibly know the challenges they are facing, or the pain they are experiencing, even as they work to support their own unique school districts. But, we are here to shoulder the work alongside them, and to link arms and support this work for our students and communities, as allies.

Our message to members last week was intended as a single step in a million-mile journey, one in which the varied and valuable voices of our members play a critically important part. It is time to reflect on, identify and repair ways that institutions may have contributed to the systemic racism that too often leads to anti-Black violence and injustice. In our first message, we referenced our most recent goals and action steps, assembled resources from members and the space for dialogue on this topic within NSPRA Connect. These are just some of the actions already taken to serve our members in the midst of current events. It is also our hope that the many outstanding professionals who have volunteered to serve on our Communication Equity and Diversity Task Force to help give insight to this work will help us navigate NSPRA’s next steps on the journey to make meaningful change.

Together is the only way we can improve in our work against racism and for justice and equality for our Black members and the staff, students and families of all of our communities.


Kelly Avants' signature

Kelly Avants, APR
Chief Communications Officer, Clovis Unified School District
President, National School Public Relations Association

Rich Bagin's signature

Rich Bagin, APR
Executive Director, National School Public Relations Association