Editor’s Note: This was sent out to the Christa McAuliffe Charter School community. It was also sent to SOURCE media by the director of the school.
By Kristin Harrison and Bob Berman
FRAMINGHAM – First, we would like to say thank you for the support that you’ve provided during this challenging time.
Following the anti-Semitic social media communication that two of our students engaged in last weekend, the Christa McAuliffe Charter School has received countless messages of support from individuals in our immediate and extended communities.
We are also deeply appreciative of the guidance and assistance that we have received to date from the Framingham Police Department, the Anti-Defamation League, the MetroWest Jewish Family Services, rabbis from a number of local synagogues, Framingham Public Schools, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. We also appreciate the support and advice of our elected officials.
Our community of scholars, families, and faculty is strong and resilient. With your support we are leaning into discomfort and difficulty to truly make this a collective learning experience so that we can emerge stronger, together.
Second, while action is paramount during a crisis, it is thanks to thoughtful conversations with members of our community that we have also been able to pause, think, and ask critical questions about our work at McAuliffe, our work in public education in general, and our work together in the city of Framingham and MetroWest region.
Some of the questions we’re currently working through include, but are not limited to:
- Pages 148-161 of Massachusetts 2018 History and Social Science Curriculum Framework states that public schools teach about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in high school. With this in mind:“When, where, and how are we educating our public school students about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism prior to high school?”
- What are additional critical social justice topics and historical events that we should also consider integrating into our program?
- How are we using this incident as a continued opportunity to further engage students in one of our strategic priorities for the 2019-20 school year, which is a shared commitment to develop upstanders (not bystanders) who are contributing to building a better world?
- How are we continuing to engage our adult community – faculty and families – in their learning about anti-Semitism, institutional racism, and how to effectively respond to situations in which groups are targeted through subtle, insidious actions or louder, blatant actions? How do we engage adults in the self-work and skill-building that is critical for adults to effectively engage young people in conversations about these topics?
Third, many of our community supporters have asked for the complete slate of email communication that we’ve shared with McAuliffe families this week. We are happy to do so:
- The first communication was sent on Monday evening, October 14 to inform families of the incident, respond, and preview plans for the following day at school.
- The second communication was sent on Tuesday, October 15 to summarize the community safety meetings that took place with each grade level that morning.
Fourth, as we emerge from this period of crisis, we are also taking the opportunity to reassess some of our current priorities, including, but not limited to the following:
Engaging the individuals most immediately impacted in restorative conversations including gathering their input with regard to: “What do you think needs to happen to make things right?”
- Engaging those who did wrong in education, skill-building, and restorative activities developed with input from those who were harmed.
- Collaborating with the Anti-Defamation League to host a community forum for the McAuliffe community.
- Exploring programmatic and curricular opportunities for the short term and long term including opportunities in crew and community meetings.
- Collaborating with community leaders to support city-wide efforts to take action against anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred.
- Identifying ways to engage the adult community in ongoing learning, especially with regard to helping our young people learn how to make choices that contribute positively to a relationship or community versus those that cause harm.
Thank you again for your support as we at the Christa McAuliffe Charter School grapple with these important questions and engage in action planning and implementation.
Kristin Harrison is the executive director of the Christa McAuliffe Charter School in Framingham. Bob Berman is chair of the Board for the Framingham-based charter school.