Dear Center Street Families,
There has been some discussion on social media about students making insensitive remarks about or toward their peers in our elementary schools and I feel that this is an opportune time to open an important dialogue in our school community. To begin, let me clarify that ESUSD schools do not condone any speech or action that targets individuals based on personal attributes including but not limited to: gender, race, religion, disability, national origin or age. We have a comprehensive, district wide K-5 Positive Student Behavior Matrix that identifies consequences for infractions of this nature, which can be accessed on our website or by clicking the link above.
As educators and as parents, when we experience elementary age students using, what appear to be, hate-charged comments, it is important to be thoughtful so that we can deftly guide our young people to understand the impact that their words may have. As we know, no child begins his/her life with negative feelings about differences. They do, however, innately categorize people, places and things as they become aware of their surroundings. During elementary years, their awareness of themselves as individuals develops rapidly. Images, stereotypes and messages from adults, peers, the media, literature, arts, etc. are recognized, categorized and filed into their growing minds. Many students stumble as they “try out” words or phrases that they have heard, but do not fully understand the meaning of. It is our responsibility, as parents, educators and role models, to guide our children to understand the power of words and the impact that negative stereotypes have on people.
Just so that you are aware, consequences at school range from a conversation with the student(s) and a parent contact up to suspension, depending on the severity of the incident. I have recently had conversations with some upper grade parents regarding these issues. Our common goal is to help students recognize the perspective of others so that they are successful in making and maintaining friendships. The collaboration between home and school is essential in changing behavior and I cannot express how fortunate we are that the family connection at Center Street is so strong.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a concern. As our world becomes more and more connected and we all learn about people and places that were once “far away,” it is important to continuously reflect on our own perceptions and biases while we help our children to do the same.
Together Everyone Achieves More,
Martha Monahan, Principal