Dear BUSD Community:
On behalf of myself, the District Team, and the Board of Trustees, we hope this communication finds you safe and well. We know that as parents and guardians, you are navigating not only schooling from home but also your own responsibilities as well. On top of COVID-19, the devastating fires throughout our state and resulting poor air quality, our society is also encountering considerable social unrest. This unrest may intensify as we approach the November 3rd election.
In the classroom setting it is common for students to share their thoughts and questions about the events taking place in our society. While these conversations can be challenging for students and teachers, they can also be wonderful learning opportunities that build understanding, awareness, and cultivate critical thinking. These are all key facets of growth that will help our students build their future. Fortunately, we are guided by board policy which requires presenting a balanced perspective when talking about difficult topics with our students.
Our Education Services Department is working with site administration to provide further guidance and support regarding how to have conversations on difficult and challenging topics in a manner that is balanced, rooted in the curriculum, and respectful. With such a rapidly changing world, it is important that we all, students, teachers, administrators, families, and community continue to work together to provide our students with a positive learning environment.
The challenges our society is facing in general, and as we head into the election, generate any number of opinions and insights. The meeting place of society, to a great extent, now takes place on social media which in large part, reflects who we are as a community. Social media can be a powerful force for good but it can also play a detrimental role. With that in mind, the Board Trustees and I believe our school district and town can be a model of thoughtful, respectful social discourse, even around challenging topics, thereby harnessing the power of social media in positive ways.
Additionally, now that lessons are taking place primarily in the Zoom platform, you may become aware of bits and pieces of the “classroom” interactions. If you become concerned, you are encouraged to contact the teacher directly to discuss the issue. We ask that you respect the classroom environment, including adherence to recent legislation prohibiting the recording of lessons. Please remember that many of our teachers are also hard working members of the Benicia community.
We strongly encourage all members of our school community to see ourselves as a team and to demonstrate the kind of social discourse we are trying to model for our students. Thoughtful, respectful discourse includes striving for understanding and clarity around topics under discussion. Respectful discourse calls for a compassionate heart that honors the humanity in all of us.
The Board Trustees and I encourage you to reach out to the teachers, school site administrators, or district office when you have questions. This is the most effective way to address concerns as it provides direct communication. When direct communication is lacking and we find out about issues through social media, situations can be made worse and unkind, hurtful comments can occur, which can also take on the form of social bullying. It can be incredibly hurtful to people within our community. For further clarity, the following link will take you to the BUSD Civility Policy. (BP 1313.1)
As we continue to shape our school district, reflecting deeply on how we come together to educate our precious students, I ask that we all seek the higher road to keep our discourse, even when challenging, at a thoughtful and respectful level. Benicia Unified School District can indeed be a model for society and it just takes the commitment to communicate with one another, to seek understanding, and work through challenges together on behalf of our students.
Charles F. Young, Ed.D.
Charles F. Young
Diane B. Ferrucci
Diane B. Ferrucci
Stacy Heldman-Holguin, Ed.D.
Gethsemane Moss, Ed.D.