I have struggled in recent weeks about civil unrest in our country. I am aghast by the extreme racial violence. I am angry that individual cruelty has resulted in the death of human life. I am saddened by an enormous division that is clearly present.
As events unfolded, I have been listening and reading and writing . . . and re-writing, and re-reading, and re-listening. I am aware that I have known and unknown blinders with regard to my own biases. I also know that, on behalf of all students, I cannot be silent. To ensure that all children have the privilege to live full lives, we must continue to confront the evil of racism.
As the leader of the Palmyra-Macedon Central School District, I recognize the important role the district has in the community and will continue to prioritize creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.The Board of Education has developed policies to prohibit discrimination and harassment in the school environment. As a District, we continue to be committed to creating a safe learning environment for all students, families, and staff. As a school district we have made commitments to helping students and each other to wrestle with real-life problems that matter. We still have work to do.
I acknowledge that harm has occurred through oppression, violence, and exclusion, and that disparities still exist in the educational arena. As the District’s Leadership Team, the Board of Education and I will continue our work to eliminate those disparities through action.
I am committed to continuing action by:
- Learning from and for our students;
- Ensuring the conditions are fostered for students to safely share feelings and have courageous conversations;
- Helping students and colleagues across all racial and ethnic groups more deeply understand the realities that others are living;
- Creating experiences for the adults in the district to confront their own biases, about themselves, our students, our fellow educators, and our world by evaluating our own comfort levels, examining our bias, and going more deeply with necessary conversation. Humility, compassion, and vulnerability will be the foundation of this work.
In our school, equity, inclusion, empathy, and kindness are priorities. Unfortunately the messages kids can receive through their own experiences may tell a different story. We know that racism is a reality and something that must be talked about. We cannot stay silent. I want to encourage you to talk to your children about what happened and have included two resources at the end of this letter to provide support in doing so; there are many others available on the internet. I encourage you to give your children an opportunity to ask questions and talk about how we can all be part of building a safer, more inclusive world.
I do not have all the answers, but I do know silence is not an option. The school community is here to support every child. A true display of the Pal-Mac Way means our children deserve better.
The Traumatic Impact of Racism and Discrimination on Young People and How to Talk About It, American Academy of Pediatrics
8 Tips For Talking With Your Child About Racial Injustice