A Call to Action – safe schools post Nov 8, 2016

Due to the increased acts of harassment, bullying and downright meanness across the nation as of November 8th, a grassroots group has begun organizing to urge for a welcoming and safe environment in our local schools. Another reader has also mentioned a statement from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC):

http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2016/11/nepc-statement

 

The local grassroots group has put together a petition (google form – UPDATED), and are asking that people sign it. They will be presenting this to the school board tonight at the Mellon Center.

 

Several Champaign Unit 4 parents have been organizing around an issue that we plan to present at tomorrow’s board meeting and we are looking for additional Champaign parents and community members who can help.

 

Tomorrow we will send a letter to the board and Superintendent Wiegand that outlines our concerns regarding the recent increase in hate speech and harassment of vulnerable groups in schools across the nation. The letter also proposes plans to prevent and address these issues in our district.

 

Would you be willing to sign such a letter and/or help connect us to other parents and community members who would be willing to sign it? In addition, we hope to pack the house tomorrow night with concerned citizens and parents and would love to have any support we can get that way.

 

Thank you so much!

 

Sharlene Denos
sharlene.denos@gmail.com

p.s. The school board meeting is tomorrow, November 14th at 5:30pm at the Mellon Administration Building, 703 South New Street in Champaign.

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5 Responses to “A Call to Action – safe schools post Nov 8, 2016”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    I have asked about a link I can share that allows people to add their names, maybe via google forms.

    Here is the petition:

    November 14, 2016

    Superintendent Judy Wiegand [edit] and the Unit 4 Board of Education
    Mellon Administrative Center
    703 South New Street
    Champaign, IL 61821

    Dear Superintendent Wiegand [edit] and Members of the Unit 4 Board of Education:

    The undersigned write as a collective of concerned parents, taxpayers, and community members who have children matriculating at Bottenfield Elementary School, South Side Elementary School, International Prep Academy, and other schools in the Unit 4 District. We know that we echo your feelings of alarm at the vitriol that children are experiencing across the United States in the wake of the recent election. Reports include, but are not limited to, the following: gross mocking of disabled youth, chants of “build the wall,” threats to aid in the deportation of students and their families, renewed deployments of the ‘N’ word, sexual aggressions against young girls, bullying of Muslim and LGBTQ+ youth, reappearances of swastikas, and so on. Clearly, we all share the concern that these hostile acts may infiltrate our schools and harm our children.

    We call for a recommitment by Champaign Unit 4 to ensure open, diverse, welcoming and safe schools. We call for the adoption of preemptive measures, before any such ugliness appears in our schools. These would include:

    · An unequivocal and public statement from the district that underscores its commitment to a welcoming, diverse, and safe school and classroom, open to all students regardless of their race, class, gender, national, ableness, religion, sexual orientation, or other differences.
    · A concomitant document that is sent home to be signed and returned that reiterates the district’s recommitment to the safety and welcoming environment of Unit 4 schools. It should clearly remind parents of the already established process to denounce instances of bullying, intimidation, and harassment.
    · A commitment to regularly report to the public any hostilities exercised on Unit 4 students or staff that recognizes the limits of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
    · A letter to all district faculty, staff, and administrators with specific instructions and resources for addressing student fears and preventing harassment.
    · The creation of a Committee for Safety and Inclusion that includes parents, educators, administrators and staff.

    Along with these immediate action items, long term measures must also be taken:
    · A plan to mandate implicit bias training for administrators, faculty and staff.
    · A plan to hire more faculty and staff of color, as well as those representative of other distinct heritages and backgrounds.

    We are certain you agree that any aggression toward our students is unacceptable. We are also certain you agree that our schools and our classrooms must remain safe educational spaces. The parents of our community are here to support this work by contributing our various skills and resources. We look forward to working together with you in preserving the well-being of our students, our schools, and our district.

  2. Rebecca Patterson Says:

    Knowing that there is a nationwide shortage of minority teachers, I’m not sure where these new hires will come from. Also, is anyone stepping up with offers to help instead of creating a list of new tasks for staff to do? Sending out letters, reports, new committees, bias training, etc.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      How does one help, specifically? As a mentor and tutor, I encourage folks to get involved with CU 1-to-1 and volunteering in the classroom. What would you suggest?


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