top of page
  • Writer's pictureRachel Langan

Why is WCASD silent on the attacks against Jews?

Six days ago, Israel was attacked in an unprecedented way resulting in the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, according to President Biden. And yet, nearly a week later, the WCASD has NOT issued a statement of support for the many Jewish families that live in our community, nor have they shared any updated safety protocols. Many of these families worry for their children’s safety and would likely appreciate an email about how the district intends to ensure their safety.


Multiple school districts have already sent such emails or issued statements. For example, the Lower Merion School District Superintendent sent an email on Sunday, October 8, 2023, to all families with a supportive message that reinforced safety measures. “ I know that the news about the violent attacks in Israel this weekend has been extremely upsetting to many, especially the families in our District who have relatives and friends who are directly impacted……Finally, I want you to know that we have been in contact with Lower Merion Township Police, who confirm there are no known threats, local or domestic, to our schools at this time. We will continue to implement our ongoing school safety measures, including keeping doors locked and screening all visitors to our school buildings.”


In addition to Lower Merion School District, Cheltenham and Radnor School Districts have also sent similar emails to support their Jewish students and families. If WCASD is truly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, why haven’t they issued a statement? In the past, the district has responded to acts of violence and other social issues with a formal statement.


After the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the subsequent violence that ensued, former WCASD Superintendent, Jim Scanlon, sent an email to the entire district community (see below for the message in its entirety). Dr. Scanlon stated,

“today in the West Chester Area School District, parents of children of color speak about teaching their sons not to run in public, or not to put up the hood on their sweatshirts, for fear that they will be mistaken for a criminal. They live with this fear because they’ve seen this scenario play out. It’s simply a chance they cannot take. Any parent of a child of color – and any student of color – will tell you that racism, in many forms, still exists in our community.”

On July 23, 2020, the WCASD School Board issued a statement regarding racial equity. The Directors stated,

“The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others have caused many to deeply examine the history and mechanisms of systemic racism, and to act to dismantle them. Locally, the shock and pain of Bianca Roberson’s murder in 2017 continues to resonate throughout our community. We have heard from many members of the community about these issues. The Directors of the West Chester Area School District stand united in support of racial equity, and more broadly, in our commitment to ensure that all students in our District achieve equitable outcomes.”

Following the non-guilty verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse on Friday, November 19, 2021, the WCASD Director of Equity and Assessment, Dawn Mader, immediately sent an email to all staff in the district (see below for the email in its entirety).

“Past and recent events has brought extreme uncertainty for our WCASD Community and the nation. The continued trauma of the pandemic and concerns about racism and injustice have left many of us feeling uneasy. News spread quickly Friday afternoon, in push alerts, on social media, and across TV news banners that Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges in the shootings of three people (two died) during a protest over police violence against Black people in Kenosha, Wisconsin.”

With such a strong response from the district to support our children of color, it seems only right that the district should equally support our Jewish students and families.


=================================

From: jscanlon@wcasd.net <jscanlon@wcasd.net> Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 9:03 AM To: Subject: [EXTERNAL] jscanlon@wcasd.net

Dear West Chester Area School District Community,


This has been an extremely difficult school year, including the death this week of beloved middle school principal Dr. Charles Cognato. Now, as our country finds itself in violent turmoil and civil unrest after recent incidents of racism, and many in our school community have expressed concern, I feel compelled to once again reach out. As educators, we consider it our responsibility to ensure that all students and staff members feel safe, valued, and accepted in our school community. No one should feel afraid, threatened, or somehow inferior because of their skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or any other reason.

As much as I would like to believe our school district is a place of great tolerance, I know we still have work to do. Public schools are largely a reflection of our society. Today in the West Chester Area School District, parents of children of color speak about teaching their sons not to run in public, or not to put up the hood on their sweatshirts, for fear that they will be mistaken for a criminal. They live with this fear because they’ve seen this scenario play out. It’s simply a chance they cannot take. Any parent of a child of color – and any student of color – will tell you that racism, in many forms, still exists in our community.


I believe it’s our responsibility to work to end not only racism, but discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance. I have heard many people ask what they can do, and what we, as a school district, can do, to this end. I certainly don’t pretend to have all of the solutions, but it’s at times like this I value most the work of our district Equity Team comprised of staff members who work to promote tolerance in numerous ways across our district. This week they are reaching out to our staff members and to our high school students to offer discussion groups, resources, and support. We can listen to each other, respectfully consider each other’s viewpoints, and begin to create solutions – even small ones – that may be right for all of our community.


Parents who want to discuss race with their children and would like some assistance can find a plethora of resources online, including one just launched by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race


Many have rightfully condemned the riots and violence that have occurred over the last week. Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin, for whom one of our high schools is named, promoted a peaceful call to action. I believe his words ring true today:


“If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.”


It should go without saying that hate, disrespect, and intimidation have no place in our schools. We will continue to work to ensure our policies and procedures support this, and as a staff, we will continue to seek to understand the experience of all of our students and staff. We will continue to discuss ways that we can promote equality and inclusivity. And, we will warmly welcome all students to a place where differences are cherished.


Sincerely,


Dr. Jim Scanlon, Superintendent


=========================

Dear WCASD Staff,


Past and recent events has brought extreme uncertainty for our WCASD Community and the nation. The continued trauma of the pandemic and concerns about racism and injustice have left many of us feeling uneasy. News spread quickly Friday afternoon, in push alerts, on social media, and across TV news banners that Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges in the shootings of three people (two died) during a protest over police violence against Black people in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In schools, the verdict in the divisive case will lead to potentially difficult conversations in the classroom in the coming days and beyond.


For some students, the verdict has caused anger and frustration, another example of how some Americans are treated differently in courtrooms and in our legal system. It’s likely adding another layer of emotional weight onto our school year. There may be differences of opinion on this case, and conversations about this case are connected to the ways in which we think about race relations in our country. Our district remains committed to our Equity efforts which are based on human rights and a desire to create an inclusive and warm school community. If conversations arise in our classrooms, here are a few points to keep in mind: o We have differences of opinions and experiences, and it is important to learn from each other to understand different points of view. o It’s important to acknowledge that the verdict may be very emotional. o Teachers can discuss with students what it means to be a member of the WCASD Community (we care, we listen, we learn among many other things).


Everyone is entitled to their own emotions and process. Every classroom should be a safe and brave space.


Learning for Justice has numerous online resources to help support classroom discussions about race, social justice, and human rights. As a community, we must continue to support each other and our outstanding students.


Thank you for the work you do and for being sensitive to the emotions this issue may raise.


Dawn Mader

Director of Equity and Assessment

782 Springdale Drive Exton, PA 19341

Phone: 484.266.1196

Email: dmader@wcasd.net

===========================




1件のコメント


jmacfarland222
2023年10月14日

It is unfortunate that the WCASD commented on the above issues and seemingly set a precedent for it to do so in the future. That was a mistake. It is important for schools and school districts to remain apolitical. I hope that the new superintendent takes an apolitical stance and keeps focused on kids and academics.

いいね!
bottom of page