Dear School District Families,
One of Gill-Montague Regional School District’s core beliefs states, “Everyone deserves to learn in a safe and supportive learning environment in which all members of the school community demonstrate respect for each other.” In recent months, both nationally and closer to home, there have been a number of high profile acts of racial and ethnic intolerance. Back in August, as we prepared for the school year ahead, the district’s administrative team discussed what we might do to communicate to students where our school community stands on these matters. We decided providing classrooms and common spaces with Hate Has No Home Here posters was one small act worth taking.
Questions This Action Might Raise
1. Whose idea was this? Where are these posters from? The district’s administrative team came up with this idea. The posters were developed at a neighborhood elementary school in Chicago where citizens wished to promote better understanding among community members from a range of ethnic, national, and racial backgrounds. You can learn more by visiting their website.
2. What did it cost and who paid for the posters? The 200 posters cost $400 and were purchased by the Community School Partnership with grant funds that support efforts to increase school connectedness and improve school climate.
3. Where are the posters going? The posters are being provided to every school office and teacher. It will be made clear to all faculty and staff that it is not an expectation that they display these in their classrooms, common spaces, or offices. It will be up to those who use each space to decide whether or not to display them at work.
4. What are teachers expected to say about the posters? Teachers who choose to display these posters may use their professional judgement to decide for themselves what message they wish to give to students about them. Some teachers who display the posters may choose to discuss this topic in depth in their classes while others may choose to simply hang them up. For teachers looking for guidance, we suggest the following talking points, adapted in age appropriate ways:
- Our school and district follow a set of important core beliefs. One of them is, “Everyone deserves to learn in a safe and supportive learning environment in which all members of the school community demonstrate respect for each other.”
- It is important for all of our students to know they are welcome here and that they deserve to feel safe and respected here.
- To me and to our school, treating each other with respect includes trying to better understand and learn about differences in ethnicity, race, religion, and other characteristics.
- It also means standing up against behaviors that show intolerance towards others because of these differences.
5. Do we think these posters are enough? Definitely not. It is important to emphasize that our teachers and schools already address issues of multicultural understanding and social justice in a range of ways. We recognize the need to expand this work on multiple fronts from staff training, to changes in curriculum, to examining how we provide social and emotional skills development. Work in these areas is ongoing.
6. Who can we direct questions or feedback to? School administrators and the superintendent are available and interested in receiving your questions and welcome feedback from all.
Michael Sullivan, Ed.D.
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