I urge the school district to find ways to break out of its bubble

To the Editor:

At the bottom of each Guilderland School District web page is the slogan “Empowering all students to succeed in the 21st Century.”

As reported in your July 9 article, several alumnae reached out to the district after the George Floyd protests to complain that there were few, if any, staff or faculty who “looked like them;” that the Eurocentric curriculum left them ignorant about their history; and that they had been subjected to slights and bullying due simply to their skin color.

I appreciated Superintendent Marie Wiles’s honest response and apparent willingness to address the grievances raised by these alumnae. I hope that this article signals the beginning of an open process that will involve community members, students, and parents to make the school an inclusive and welcoming space for students of color and others.

I daresay most of us graduated from high school without understanding the systemic racism, policies, and resulting white flight that created the world we live in. Perpetuating this ignorance will continue to disempower students of color and handicap all students as they enter an increasingly diverse and global workplace.

These events have given our community a fresh opportunity to create a learning environment that educates and empowers all students. I hope that the district will make the alumnae complaints public and will go on to create a curriculum review board made up of students and parents along with teachers and administrators.

It is important that the changes be applied throughout the district in an orderly fashion. I also urge the school district to find ways to break out of its bubble and connect Guilderland students with others in more diverse schools through extracurricular activities.

I’m confident, based on my experience with Guilderland’s embrace of differently abled students, that once the district puts its heart into this effort, it will do the work to create a model curriculum that is inclusive and a learning environment that is rich and diverse. Our students deserve no less.

Laura Shore


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