I Just Don’t Understand

Sometimes I just don’t understand. I try. I listen. I ask. I ponder. But sometimes I just don’t get it. Last night was one of those nights. A committee I served on earlier this year presented the findings of a district equity audit with the Board of Education and the public. The study brought some things to light, but I’m not sure there were any big surprises. We, like most districts (and organizations), have work to do in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The study suggested a few broad actions. Again, nothing surprising, and really nothing that was all that revolutionary.

But some of the responses rocked me. I know that there is unrest in our district around these issues, and I understand that the mention of DEI can strike fear into the hearts of some people. The world is changing, and change can be hard, especially for those who feel they hold power. But last night people came out swinging – and criticizing, and offending, and politicizing, and berating.

I just don’t understand why parents and community members would be against things like building a deep sense of belonging for all, or creating opportunities for more students, or giving students more voice, or providing professional development for teachers so that we can be more responsive to the children we serve. There seems to be this idea that if we do these things for some students, we are taking away from others. That’s just not how I see it. That’s just not how it is. If we take action, all students will benefit – a rising tide lifts all boats. There seems to be another belief that we should “just teach the 3 Rs” without thinking about the environment in which we teach them. Again, that’s not how I see it. That’s not how it works. People don’t learn well if they don’t feel a sense of belonging. We (teachers) don’t just dump knowledge into the heads of our students. It’s much more complicated than that. Most of these comments came from parents. How is it that they don’t see the need for this work? What is their vision for their children’s education; for their children’s future?

I’ll keep listening and and asking and pondering, but I will also take action to make this world a safer, more inclusive place that provides real opportunities for all.

4 thoughts on “I Just Don’t Understand”

  1. Oof, hard to understand for sure! Was the equity audit one freely available? We are trying to do this at our school, so I would love to see what was asked. This line really sticks with me:
    ” If we take action, all students will benefit – a rising tide lifts all boats.”

  2. Those not in the profession do not always understand what it is that we do. We need to foster the sense of belonging and community. It is at the heart of all we do.

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