The events from earlier in the week in Washington, D.C. have been disturbing. Never in recent history have we had to be witness to attacks on our government from our own citizens. We know times have been challenging for school staff to deal with these events tactfully and in a developmentally appropriate manner. As school board members you provide the support and foundation for the staff hired by each of your districts to guide the learning about the Constitution, branches of our government, and responsibilities of elected officials and citizens. Your dedication and guidance through these issues will go a long way to assuring that goals within your district are clear and your mission is still the major focus of why we provide this learning for students.
As yesterday and today have unfolded, I have come across two messages sent to me that I wanted to share with you. The first is from Stephen Sroka, a doctor who now has specialized in support for mental and emotional supports. More about him can be learned at STEPHEN SROKA - http://www.drstephensroka.com/
Yesterday his message was to help parents and teachers in their support for their children and students:
7 Simple Tips for Kids Watching DC Violence
- Turn off the TV news
- Keep routines
- Assure kids are safe
- Control your emotions
- Model good behavior
- Offer age appropriate advice
- Look, listen, then speak with hope, honesty and kindness
Another message came my way from the President of the National School Boards Association, Charlie Wilson. His comments, thought by me to be worthy of sharing are seen below. Thank you for your service and your wise governance of your school districts.
- Steve Bailey, Executive Director
Dear Fellow School Board Members and Supporters of Public Education,
Yesterday, as a nation, we witnessed a tragedy and disgrace—the breaching of the U.S. Capitol by a lawless mob committed to do violence, not just violence to people, property, and physical structures but violence to our republic and democracy.
This was heartbreaking. That is the only word I can conjure for it: Heartbreaking because so many have given their lives to protect liberty, freedom, and justice; heartbreaking because the act so vividly represented the division and fractures now present in our society; heartbreaking to see symbols of hate on lurid display in what should be a beacon of democracy and hope to the world; heartbreaking to have this occur in the midst of a global pandemic and as racial injustice persists; heartbreaking to see our Constitution, the rule of law, and the will of the people so undermined and under direct attack.
Each of us comes to our work as school board members and supporters of education for different reasons, with varying purposes. But we remain united in our common mission.
At the core of our mission is uplifting and protecting the rule of law. Law, we know, is the invisible architecture that undergirds society. It is our responsibility—as locally elected school board members—to serve at all times as guardians of these principles: of democracy, of liberty, of equality, of civility and community, and of the Constitution and the rule of law.
I am often reminded of the words of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who so keenly observed: “The practice of democracy is not passed down through our gene pool. It must be taught and learned anew by each generation of citizens.”
As school board members, that is our duty and privilege: to model and to teach about the good of democracy, to promote civility and nurture community, and to ensure that the rule of law protects all, not just some, in society.
At this troubling moment in our nation’s history, I hope we will all take to heart that duty. I hope that, as locally elected public officials, we will rise to the challenge to make our community, our nation, better. That, indeed, is what motivates and inspires me each morning: knowing the good each of you will do in the world with what you model and share in your school district and in your community.
I hope we will all be there for each other. I hope we will redouble our commitment to listening to each other—to hearing each other, to understanding each other, to using what we learn in our schools and beyond to influence society for the better, heal division, and sow unity.
Please be safe and help take care of each other.
Warmly, Charlie Wilson NSBA President