At a recent school board meeting material was presented by two student groups that made me very proud to be part of this community. There was also discussion following these presentations that made me very disappointed in our community. The subject was diversity and equity.
First, let me say, for the most part we have a very kind and giving community. Some of us have family ties that go back to the founding of the city, and are well-versed in local tradition. Others, like me, have found a home here because of the wonderful attributes the city and surrounding area offers. It is a wonderful community.
What does it mean to have a diverse community, specifically when it comes to how we treat each other, and even more specifically how our children treat each other?
I ask this because at the aforementioned meeting we learned about the activities of our high school and middle school student groups who have organized to support diversity and equity in our student population and community. These are our talented young leaders. They are attending conferences to be better informed, collecting data to uncover where issues lie, developing action plans to address inequity that occurs on a daily basis in our schools and our community, and communicating this information out to their peers and others.
Some of the actions identified include addressing offensive language, celebrating diversity more across the district, engaging in diversity conversations, and increased staff awareness.
I am proud to know that these students are in our schools trying to institute awareness and change about an important issue, but I was outraged to hear some of the disturbing things that take place on a daily basis — which all of our children are exposed to. This is the real sad part of our students’ experiences, and says a lot about just how much our community needs to improve.
As a school district we adopt policies which in theory address these issues. But based on what was shared by our two student groups, improved policies and practices are needed. We should strive for zero tolerance of these types of incidents; we all need to stand up to these inequities.
I applaud these students for their desire to improve not only their own experience but for those around them. We are a kind and generous community — but there is always room to do better.
Town of Pleasant Springs