Letter from Superintendent

Letter from Superintendent
Posted on 08/25/2017

August 25, 2017

Dear MPS Community,

As we start school next week, I think about our children who will be returning to school anxious to see their friends, their new teachers, wondering about how challenging their work will be, and the expectations they vow to meet with the promise of a new school year.  I worry, however, that the racially charged events in our country over the summer will also add a new dimension to those first day jitters.  I ask that we redouble our efforts to ensure that every child feels welcome, every child feels empowered to meet their potential, and every child feels safe in our schools.

I know you share my alarm caused by these acts of violence, hatred, and bigotry. As we progress through the year, there will be many opportunities to lead by example and fight the wave of racism that continues to rear its head. However, we don’t have to look to Virginia to find it. Hateful, ugly or divisive language and actions happen right in front of us. What will we be willing to do to create a safe environment for every child, regardless of their color, sexual preferences, religion, or social status? “See Something, Say Something” is the national campaign to raise awareness of indicators of terrorism and to report any suspicious or crime-related activity. We need to be equally vigilant in our schools when it comes to protecting our children from hate-related speech, intolerance of others beliefs, and white-supremacist attitudes. It also means that we need to take advantage of teachable moments when comments are made with unintended consequences. A joke that isn’t funny because it pokes fun at a child’s manner of dress, comments regarding cultural smells, calling each other by racial slurs, or excluding a peer at the lunch table due to sexual orientation or social status are opportunities to address prejudice.

We all have biases and room for greater understanding for those with whom we live and work. We know that racism and inequality effects the education of our students. Our goal is to create a community that strives to provide equal opportunity and inclusivity. We will continue to train our staff in cultural competence and unconscious bias. We are reviewing our policies and practices for bias, and working with community members to improve our actions and outcomes. I will keep you informed of our progress.

I ask that we stand together in denouncing racism and do all that we can to ensure equity and positive outcomes for every child in our care.

Patricia Charles, Ed.D.

Download letter in pdf format.