So I hadn't gone to this area of the SPS' website in a long time. I was reading another blog where what is in this area was largely railed against by many people. It's hard to know what to say because it's a quilt of many different squares, some of which make sense and others, well, not so much.
For example, on the calendar (which the staff takes pains to say they tried really hard to cover everything), I see things that I don't get. One is National Tartan Day for the Scottish. What? And they leave out Ramadan (which is a pretty important, monthlong Islamic tradition).
For some of the terms/definitions used, I have a hard time believing both the Superintendent and Board signed off on these. Oddly, Darlene Flynn is quoted but as a "Race and Social Justice Trainer" but not as a Board member.
They have many types of professional development opportunities for SPS employees which is great. However, they have one presenter, Sakara Remmu, who has been at many Board meetings and has been openly hostile to the Board and has addressed them in a derisive manner. She has mocked the Board and the Superintendent publically on their cultural awareness. I cannot believe she has been hired to teach cultural competency to district staff.
The website area has a FAQs section and one question they try to answer is "What about the melting pot idea?" and it's pretty much dismissed. I'm not sure the melting pot idea is the issue (or is valid anymore for the US); the issue is whether we live in a shared society. I was watching a documentary on Israeli and Palestine children and one Palestian child had moved to the US during adolescence. He said he was astonished at how so many different kinds of people live in this country and freely express their differences and yet live fairly harmoniously. And that is the beauty of the United States. This ability to embrace and yet not restrict anyone's right to be who they are. But, at the end of the day, we need to be a country. We can't forget that even as we try to educate ourselves on differences and how to be sensitive and open about them.
I remember a conversation with my mom (and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms) years ago. She was describing her life during WW III (she was a teenager) and how everyone rationed and participated in blackout drills. I asked her how the government got everyone to go along with this (you'll have to know that I had this discussion with her during the Vietnam War era). She just looked at me and said, "Honey, there was a war going on. Thousands and thousands of guys were gone and we left behind had to do what we can to support them. It was our duty." The reason I bring this up is because if we constantly look for what divides us, we may never be able to unite for any common cause. We have thousands of soldiers in a war and yet most people go on as if nothing were happening. (This may be a bad example because of the differences in circumstances between WW II and this war.) But maybe a better example was right after 9/11. I remember thinking that this was our Pearl Harbor. The world was mourning with us and offering support and help. We had so much momentum for good will and crossing barriers that separated us both domestically and internationally. And it got squandered.
Education is the great leveler in this country (for many people). My point is if we only talk about what divides us, if that is the sole basis of any conversation on race and culture, what is going to unite us? Is that possible and is it important?