June 4, 2020
A joint letter from Kate Torrey, MES Principal and Nina Slade, SES Principal
Dear Parents and Communities,
We have spent the last few days, like many of you, compelled to consume the news that is so difficult to watch. Administrators and teachers throughout the LSUU have been engaged in conversations about our obligations as a public school institution to address these matters head-on. The events that are unfolding around us are stark reminders that we have work to do, and it starts with conversations within our families.
As we are still tucked into our family cocoons, you may take advantage of this time to open and continue age-appropriate conversations with your children. These can be difficult conversations, especially during an already difficult time in our world, but they are necessary conversations. To remain silent in such times is to be complicit. Children are never too young to learn about racial injustice and societal inequities that plague our country, especially inequities against our Black community. In fact, children’s level of compassion, kindness, and understanding of these issues may even surprise you. We have provided a wide variety of resources below to help you begin these conversations. We encourage you to look through these resources to find the ones that are developmentally appropriate for your child.
In addition, the faculties at SES and MES have been in conversation about how to address this with your children as we are ending the school year and in the middle of a pandemic. When our students are back within the school walls, we want you to know that we have focused work planned and specific strategies written into our LSUU Continuous Improvement Plan to educate ourselves and our students about racial justice, equity, and culturally sustaining practices. Here are a few examples:
We will continue our professional development focus on equity across all LSUU schools, continuing to focus on creating anti-racist and anti-biased schools and communities. This includes examining white privilege and implicit bias and the impact that has on classrooms and students.
Moving forward, we will reaffirm our commitment to this anti-racism and anti-bias work by looking deeply at our schools’ policies and practices to recognize and redress inequities.
Teachers will examine literature, instructional resources, and student materials to ensure diverse representation. Even at the elementary school level, we are building resources and lessons to begin conversations about the issues of racial injustice and police brutality.
At the same time, we will continue to build positive relationships with our community partners.
If you have any concerns or need support talking with your children about these difficult topics, please reach out.
Wishing you and your families peace and good health,
Nina and Kate
Position statements from our Vermont leaders:
A joint letter from the Vermont School Boards Assoc., Vermont Superintendents Assoc., and Vermont Principals Assoc. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D6UQqDXyMAkMFu0d_GbsbmkYzxuVdJfd/view
Message from the Agency of Education: https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-statement-on-the-killing-of-george-floyd.pdf
Resources for families:
A CNN & Sesame Street Town Hall to address issues of racism, airing Sat. June 6, at 10:00am https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/us/cnn-sesame-street-standing-up-to-racism/index.html
Talking With Children About Racism, Police Brutality and Protests, by Laura Markham.