Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Message and Resources from the Burlington School District on Diversity and Democracy

To Our BSD Community and Beyond:

As we all take in and reflect on the results of the Presidential election, many of us are experiencing profound feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, and fear.  Regardless of any of our personal politics, this election season was filled with hateful rhetoric - xenophobia, racism, misogyny, rape culture, bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia.  This is not who we are as a school district, and this is not what we stand for as a community.

The Burlington School District  honors and values our rich diversity.  Ultimately, we want to be able to come together as a community, support each other, and move forward with a renewed commitment to equity for all of us, but first, we must recognize that many among us are hurt.  We ask you not only to take care of one another, but also hold space for those who need to grieve, to mourn, and to heal.  
Burlington educators are known for putting our students first.  Our administrators and staff have been engaged in healing conversations with students, staff and community in the past week.  We will continue to do so, responding to their shock, fear, and uncertainty, with comfort, reassurance, and a safe environment at school.  We also need to take extra care to tune into the conversations and dynamics happening among them, and among us, and face the ugly reality that, to some, the results of this election serve to justify instances of bullying, harassment, and violence based on sex, religion and race.  Now is the time to teach and model empathy and compassion, both in our classrooms and in our own lives.  We offer the following resources to support you engaging your students further as needed:
From Bobby Riley, Principal at the IAA
Here is the letter Bobby sent to his staff the night of the election, before the official results came out.  He provides some wonderful tips for teachers, such as exploring the concept of bullying and the power of our words, empowering children to “be the change,” and explaining that there are checks and balances in our system of government.

From Dorinne Dorfman, Principal at Champlain Elementary

From Teaching Tolerance: The Day After
This article provides some tangible things that teachers can do, both for ourselves and with our students, such as strengthening our classroom community, creating space for reflection, and discussing the meaning of respect.

This article outlines some “truths kids need to hear,” such as that it’s okay to feel big emotions, that our country is divided along many lines, and that voting matters, but not just voting.

From the Huffington Post: What Do We Tell the Children?
This article provides suggested responses to the fear felt by many children.  Tips for teachers include things like, “Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school.”

From Teaching Tolerance: Let the Students Speak!
Use the hashtag #StudentsSpeak to share their advice to the new president.

This website contains many resources for EL teachers and all teachers.

This is a collection of resources and includes sections on Countering Bias in Schools, and Safe and Affirming Schools: Tools for Positive School Climate.
In Solidarity With Love,
Diversity and Equity Team
Daniel Baron, Critical Friend and Facilitator
Hal Colston, Architect of Equity
Rebecca Haslam, K-12 Equity and Inclusion Instructional Leader
Miriam Ehtesham-Cating, Director of English Learning
Laura Nugent, Director of Student Support Services
Henri Sparks, Director of Equity and Safe/Inclusive Schools

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