There is so much to process this year as individuals let alone as parents and educators who are seeking to help guide and support student understanding during this difficult time. First, a global pandemic and now we must work to help them navigate, understand and confront compex racial issues in our country. As a white woman, who works to understand and recognize my own privilege, I understand that I will never fully understand, but I stand with our families of color. Hearing and reflecting on each other's experiences is so vital. I am grateful to our Diversity committee for helping support this dialogue and pushing our school forward in this direction.
We are a school that has students coming from all parts of the city. Students are facing different levels of challenge and destruction in their neighborhoods. Please remember we are here if your family needs support. We encourage students to reach out to teachers, our counselor, our admin team or other staff they feel connected to if they need someone to talk to.
Please also see below for a message from the Skinner North Diversity Committee and ways to engage. I strongly encourage people to join our discussions on June 4th and June 9th (see more details below.)
Have a wonderful day, Katie
“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, The Other America, 1967
We recognize that this has been a challenging and often overwhelming year for many of our Skinner North families. It’s ok to not feel ok.
We are heartbroken for the killings of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and for the lack of accountability for their deaths. We believe that Black Lives Matter.
We recognize that both the peaceful and the violent protests we are witnessing are not just a response to these most recent killings but also the result of a long history of systemic racial injustice. Dr. King’s quote is as relevant today as when he first said it in 1967. We know that staying silent will not bring about the progress we need as a community and as a country. We are committed to becoming more actively anti-racist instead of merely non-racist.
Thank you to all the Skinner North teachers who are already holding space in their virtual classrooms for conversations about race, racism and racial justice.
The Diversity Committee is offering the following resources to support our school community in processing, discussing, and responding to these recent events:
- At the end of this message are the resources Dr. Magnuson sent out last week to support families in talking to students about race. In addition, here is a link to a Good Morning America segment about how to talk to kids about race and privilege amid the George Floyd protests. As this segment explains, while these conversations may be difficult and uncomfortable for many, it is our responsibility to help our kids understand their world. Color blindness doesn’t work. It’s never too early to start the conversation about race.
- To further support these conversations, we are working with the school to set up virtual parent workshops with Single Story, the Diversity Integration consultants that have been supporting our teachers and faculty throughout the year.
Session 1: "What is Happening?"
Together, processing our thoughts and feelings about what is going on in America as it relates to race and racism: A facilitated conversation
Thursday, June 4, 6:30 - 8pm CST
Session 2: "How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism"
Unpacking how parents are talking to their children about race and racism and exploring best practices when talking to children about race and racism: A facilitated conversation
Tuesday, June 9, 6:30 - 8pm CST
- In the longer term, we are continuing to work with the school and with our community to work towards integrating race, racism, and racial justice into the K-8 curriculum.
Many thanks to all the parents who have already reached out to offer their ideas and support. If you would like to be involved in these efforts or have other suggestions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danit Schleman and Ismael El-Amin
Diversity Committee Co-Chairs
Talking with Students about Race - We are a multicultural and multi-racial school, which is a wonderful strength. Our goal is to have students develop strong relationships with one another and learn with and from each other. Part of this is learning empathy and increasing our understanding of one another and individual experiences. To do this, we have to be introspective and open to dialogue that can be difficult. The current news and divisions in our society, speak to this. Talking about race and its impacts is essential to building student understanding and empathy of the world around them. As a parent these conversations may come easily to you or may be difficult to know where to begin, so I wanted to provide resources to assist any parents who wish to explore and have these important conversations at home.
Talking Race with Young Students
Your Kids aren't too Young to talk about Race - Resource Round Up
Age by Age Guide to Talking to Kids about Race
Book Recommendations to Read with Students-
Questions to Accompany New Kid by Jerry Craft (This book is available for the next five weeks. You can access it by visiting the CPS Libraries website. To log in, click on “Students,” and type the username: cps and the password: cps. (Age Level 8-13)
Something Happened In Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard (Age Range 4-8)
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham (Age Range 8-12)