Editor: Maria Montessori stated that “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”
We may not understand their lived experiences, but all LCPS students deserve an inviting and welcoming atmosphere at school.Imagine walking into class where an adult refuses to identify a child by a chosen name.Imagine that honest discussions about history are discouraged because of discomfort in talking about racial disparities.Imagine that civility is denied to students exhibiting cultural mores. Can we view those situations through the eyes of children and youth?Freedom of speech and expression don’t mean freedom to discriminate or license to threaten those with whom we disagree.
Students and school employees should expect to be treated fairly, equitably.By honoring basic rules of respect and safety, with parents and teachers as allies and advocates, all students can celebrate their humanity, uniqueness, and achievement.We hope that teachers and students alike do not reinforce confirmation bias, whether intentional or not.
However, negative role modeling has been on display and social media amplifies it. At the June 8 School Board meeting, I watched in horror as a Fairfax teacher/reporter harassed elementary-aged children who spoke about equity.Video of the proceedings indicates talking points, buzzwords, and loud disruptions. How are threats perceived through the lens of a child?
I signed up to speak on June 22, to express support for all children. The School Board added three hours for public comment into an already tight schedule.Although I sat up front, it was difficult to hear.Hundreds of us were unable to speak because of unruly audience interruptions. People stood on chairs and shouted at the superintendent. The room was cleared and an arrest made.What does that signal to children about rules of decorum?
Afterwards, I spoke outside with a woman carrying a clipboard, presumably for signatures.She seemed sincerely disturbed by the events, as was I.We agreed that a large group forum was not the most productive for discussing complex issues.
Later, I found out that a retired teacher was solicited to fund the recall.She asked, “why would I do that?”Notably, 90% of voters have not signed petitions.Imagine how those funds could directly benefit Loudoun’s children: $130,000 could go far to support summer programs in STEM or coding, visual or performing arts; meals for the food insecure or Backpack Buddies supplies; assistance for internet connections or help for homeless youth; or “early back” programs for students needing extra support.
I’m grateful for LCPS teachers and colleagues who demonstrated a belief in me.My wish for current LCPS teachers, administrators, and School Board members is to enjoy a productive 2021-22 school year, continue the necessary dialogue about equity and diversity, and send students this message: You are all welcome here.
Brenda Bengtson, Hamilton