Community Letter to Promote Kindness and Acceptance

Sunday, August 20th, 2017 - Posted in All District News District Communications

August 18, 2017

Dear PUSD Families,

The start of the school year is always an exciting time for educators as we rejoin our teams, set our goals and plans for the year, and welcome our students.  This year is no exception.  During the past few weeks, many of our staff conversations have focused on how we promote acceptance and kindness.  We ended last year with a commitment to anti-bias training and education which we began this fall with a week-long training on the Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance.

We were reminded last week of the importance of this work with the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Drawing from a letter sent jointly last year by the Board of Education and City Council, we will:

  • Stand united to promote acceptance and kindness.
  • Stand up to bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and violence.
  • Stand up for each individual in our diverse community.

We know our students are able to engage in age-appropriate conversations about difficult issues, and staff are coming together to learn, share, and expand strategies to facilitate conversations about bias and social justice.

When facilitating classroom conversations, teachers establish expectations for civil discourse; help students understand and respect different opinions; and thereby help prepare students of all ages for civic engagement in a diverse society.

Teaching Tolerance suggests these strategies for all of us to speak up against bias and in support of social justice:

Interrupt

Speak up against every biased remark—every time, in the moment, without exception.  Think about what you’ll say ahead of time so you’re prepared to act instantly.

Try saying, “I don’t like words like that,”  or  “That phrase is hurtful.”

Question

Ask simple questions in response to hateful remarks to find out why the speaker made the offensive comment and how you can best address the situation.

Try saying, “Why do you say that?”  “What do you mean?”  or  “Tell me more.”

Educate

Explain why a term or phrase is offensive.  Encourage the person to choose a different expression.  Hate isn’t behind all hateful speech.  Sometimes ignorance is at work, or lack of exposure to a diverse population.

Try saying, “Do you know the history of the word?”

Echo

If someone else speaks up against hate, thank her or him and reiterate her or his anti-bias message.  One person’s voice is a powerful start.  Many voices together create change.

Try saying, “Thanks for speaking up, Allison.  I agree that word is offensive and we shouldn’t use it.”

Piedmont school leaders and staff will work together to use these tools and approaches to create an inclusive, safe and accepting educational environment for our children, educators, and staff. We ask for your partnership in this work. We will be communicating with you throughout the year as this work progresses and deepens.

We welcome your questions and comments at any time.

Sincerely,

Sarah Pearson, Board President

Amal Smith, Vice President

Cory Smegal, Member

Doug Ireland, Member

Andrea Swenson, Member

 

Randall Booker, Superintendent

Song Chin-Bendib, Asst. Superintendent

Cheryl Wozniak, Director

Stephanie Griffin, Director

Julie Valdez, Director

Pete Palmer, Director

Michelle Nguyen, Director

Michael Brady, Bond Program Coordinator

Adam Littlefield, Principal

Irma Muñoz, Assistant Principal

Eric Mapes, Assistant Principal

Shannon Fierro, Principal

Ryan Fletcher, Principal

Karyn Shipp, Assistant Principal

Carol Cramer, Principal

Michael Corritone, Principal

Anne Dolid, Principal

Kenneth Taylor, Assistant Principal

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