Last Thursday I left practice early to attend the part of the board meeting where the board discussed the resolution that "We All Belong: Sfe and Welcoming Schools for All" you can find the resolution here:
I participated in a discussion session where we discussed 5 key points. While I don't have the texts we discussed then, my impression was that these were stronger, and addressed a broader swath of children. I'm glad that the resolution is protective of immigrants and religious minorities because I see these groups as the most threatened right now, but I thought I remembered more general data protection and more focus on LGBTQ+ in the discussion. I fully accept that this is my particular filter, but I'd like it to be stronger there.
I also thought we talked about more concrete actions. This one is much more important. We will need to be watching for the concrete practices and policies that will make this more than a pretty piece of paper.
That said I am thrilled that DJUSD adopted this. It is a strong statement of our community values and it gives all of us pushing for support of all students something to point to. It is our city on the hill beacon that we stand for all students.
I failed to do my homework so I spent a bit of time when I first got there pulling it up and reading it on my phone.
When I got there public comment on this item had begun. All comments were generally positive, with some suggestions for edits.
I was particularly impressed by the statements from the mother and father of the Islamic school (I'm not precisely clear on the meaning of the titles in this context, but these two obviously included parental love and nurturing for their students in the duties).
She spoke with power and articulation and focused on how much more we are similar than different. She quoted Mia Angelo. She wore a full burka. When she started speaking I'd been trying to look something up, and I had to stop to listen because she had that presence.
He spoke more humbly. He spoke of his experience going to high school the day after September 11th. The bullying and hurtful experiences he had, and the teachers who helped him through. Then he spoke of his students, of their needs to be included, and to have time for prayer.
I pray daily, but as a Methodist, there's no particular time that is proscribed for prayers I do it right before bed because that is a time that works for me, but that doesn't mean it is not a real need for others. I was reminded of when we had some Muslim housemates. We helped them move in, and as prayer time came up there was consternation. It was a new place, and they weren't sure which way was east. We managed to find information that covered their need. It emphasized for me how even with our many similarities it is in supporting our differences that we show we are welcoming.
There were many other speakers. Anoosh represented Yolo Rainbow Families well. I was happy to see Montgomery well represented.
The Trustees of the board spoke. There was enthusiasm and word-smithing. The resolution was adopted with plans to edit, but not change the substance.
There were a couple of issues that weren't fully addressed:
How will parents be reached? The parent communications system works reasonably well for me, but there was a notable lack of Hispanic participation in a discussion item which was in large part trying to make sure our students of varying immigration status are welcome. When we had our previous discussion meeting we made some suggestions hopefully good methods will be used. The response when this came up was lacking in specifics, and used an example that overstated the parent board interaction.
How will training get to staff and students? This to me is the real crux of the issue. I'm thrilled that we have this resolution to point to but changing the climate in the schools is the real work.
And the wonk question: what policies will be put in place because of this. This is never exciting or popular, but it is what turns the light of a resolution into the salt that does the work of making the world, or in this case the school district a better place.
Like the Women's March this is a great first step, but it is nearly nothing if we do not follow it up.
We are here.
We are watching.
We will roll up our sleeves and work with you.
But this is a great mountain of work that you have set yourselves to do, and we expect you to follow through.