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  • A Message from Superintendent, Dr. Nancy Lynch
    Wednesday, June 3, 2020

    Dear Parents and Guardians,  

    I, like so many others in our nation, am heartbroken and outraged by the injustices our African American and people of color experience every day in our country. We all witnessed this at its most horrific level on May 25th when George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis at the hands of 4 police officers. System ic racism, as a result of conscious and unconscious biases that have created unequal access to basic rights and opportunities, continues to be a plague on our society.  It is past the time for us to come together to make real and significant changes to guarantee the rights and protections that are found in law but are often not evident in actions toward people of color each day. This change can only happen when people of my race begin to look inward to openly, honestly and without excuses or defensiveness examine our own biases, and fully recognize that the color of our skin is not something we need to think about each day. We don’t have to teach our children how to navigate the world because of the color of their skin. We expect to be accepted for who we are and that we are judged solely on our own merits. We must recognize that not everyone has that privilege.

    As a district, we have worked over the past 4 years to educate ourselves, learn continuously about our own biases, and strive to be allies in our focus to ensure our students, families and colleagues experience a place of acceptance, value, and are seen for the totality of who they are. We adopted a Diversity and Inclusion Statement that must live each and every day in our hearts and not be a platitude we wish to aspire to. By implementing the Social Justice Standards, we are providing a conduit for students to dig in deeply to talk about all of the parts that make them whole and appreciated by discussing their identity; then by developing language to discuss diversity and build empathy, respect, understanding and connections with others; then we focus on justice to learn the harmful impact of bias and injustice historically and in our present day world; and then students learn how to take action to speak up with courage and respect when someone else has been hurt or wronged by bias.

    We also are taking a hard look at our systems, protocols, hiring practices, curriculum, expectations for student achievement and access to rigorous programs and experiences for all students. We will continue to work toward this reality so we can support our school community to create the meaningful change that must happen for all students and families. We must come together to continually learn, question our assumptions and biases, and be allies for others who do not have the same privileges based solely by the color of their skin.

    Keep reading to see an important letter that our school psychologists have collaborated on that shares guidance on how to discuss what happened to Mr. Floyd and the protests we see across the country. Also, we have created a Diversity and Inclusion link on our webpage that has curated all of the resources and links I have shared over the past 2 years on diversity, inclusion and equity to be found in one place on our website as a support to our families.

    Warm regards,
     
    Nancy Lynch, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
    Reed Union School District

  • Letter from Reed District Psychologists

     
    June 2, 2020
     
    Dear Reed district families, as psychologists and human beings, we have been shaken to our core in recent days, following the death of Mr. George Floyd, the subsequent protests, and the simmering unrest that is boiling over as a pandemic intersects with a long-standing history of racial inequity and violence in our country. Many of you have reached out to us as psychologists to ask how to talk to your children about what is happening in the world, how to address these difficult events effectively at home. As psychologists, we want to say that we are glad you asked! We believe these conversations are essential for all parents to have and suggest that there are developmentally appropriate ways to talk to children of all ages about race, identity, racism and police brutality. Many people have expressed a feeling of powerlessness this week and have asked what they can do at this time. We want to remind you that one of the most powerful things you can do is to talk with your children! You have tremendous power as a parent to influence your child’s thinking and to shape his or her view of the world.
     
    In our experience, even young children may learn about highly publicized incidents like the George Floyd case – perhaps by overhearing the TV – and some may ask questions. Also, many children will pick up on the anxiety and sadness that is being felt by parents now and will ask in order to understand why a parent is upset. In all cases, an age-appropriate explanation is better than silence. Being able to talk about something with a supportive adult can reduce fear, anxiety and confusion. Parents may avoid these conversations because they don’t know what to say, but it is a mistake to think that this silence is protective or helpful. We encourage you to talk with your children about recent events, even if it feels uncomfortable to do so.
     
    We suggest the first place to start a conversation with your children around race, racism and recent events is with honesty. Take ownership of your feelings and be comfortable sharing those feelings with your child. Accept whatever feelings they offer to you in return. Then you can begin to allow them to share what they may already know about racial differences and inequity. For younger children, conversations about racism should be limited to basic facts about how people are treated differently due to the color of their skin, and how this is not right; you should also acknowledge for them that not everyone treats people differently based on their race. For older tweens and teens, parents can have a more nuanced conversation that includes details regarding current events.
     
    Regardless of the age of the child, it is important to balance acknowledging the current stark realities of racism, with messages about hope and the possibility for change. Encourage your children to understand that things can get better if a community of allies, including Reed educators and you yourselves in your own home, take action to address the inequities in our country. In all cases, remind your children that the world does contain good people who are trying to create change. Older children may benefit from being provided with concrete actions they can take now to encourage change. You can share with them that they can listen, learn about and educate themselves about their own identity, race, racism and different cultures. They can write letters, they can act as an ally to people of color and amplify their voices, they can speak up if they encounter injustice in their life. It’s important to emphasize that it is OK to feel uncomfortable and to make mistakes in this process, but then also to clarify that continued conversations on this topic are what will change hearts and minds in our country.  
     
    Education provides a forum through which compassion and empathy are learned. The Reed district has embraced the challenge of actively teaching about identity, diversity, race and racism on all three campuses. But we must form a home-school partnership to achieve this goal most effectively. We suggest that these important conversations should be ongoing. They should not begin or end with a discussion of recent events. In the Reed district, we intentionally build a learning community based on integrity, engagement, belonging and respect so that our students can later build and insist on a world anchored in these values, too. To create a world for our children where these values can thrive, we each need to consider what we are doing to disrupt injustice and hatred - and not only within Reed schools, but in our own homes as well. 
     
    Thank you for reading this letter. Your children may not be in the hallways of our Reed district schools at the moment but sheltering in place does not mean we turn away from one another. Now, more than ever, is a time for coming together. We miss you and your children; we are thinking about you, and we are cheering you on as you engage in these conversations together.
     
    Below are three good articles that will help to provide you with further guidance about how to talk with your children:
     
     
     
     
    Please take good care of yourselves. We send you all our love until we meet again.
     
    Your Reed District Psychologists,
     
    Dr. Maya Van Putten, Dr. David Kover, and Dr. Allan Gold
     
    ***************************
     
    Additional Resources, for parents who would like further reading or listening:
     
     
     
     
    Teaching Tolerance, which helps to guide how we teach about this topic at Reed, and is a wealth of information
     
     
     
     
     
    A Visual Explaining White Priviledge:
     
    Guide


ANNOUNCING: Creating Curiosity: Out The Front Door (Television Series)

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