Letter: We must trust our teachers, listen to our students

Posted 11/11/21

Student voice and distrust were communicated forcefully Monday night during the public comment section of the Bristol Warren Region School Committee meeting. It is a brave thing to stand up in front …

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Letter: We must trust our teachers, listen to our students

Posted

Student voice and distrust were communicated forcefully Monday night during the public comment section of the Bristol Warren Region School Committee meeting. It is a brave thing to stand up in front of your peers, authority and positions of power and ask for what you need and deserve. I am very proud of our students.

The actions and discussions within the public realm of the school committee have laid bare the big divisions and different lenses that we use to view ourselves, our community and the education of our public school children.

My colleagues, the leadership of the school committee, have suggested that public school education is a zero-sum game; a dynamic that is not so dynamic at all. We see the echoes of this broadly within our society as a whole, that there is not enough. If one group of students “wins” or gets what they need, then that means that another group “loses.” The Mt. Hope Student Union reiterated that eloquently on Monday.

All of our students need an excellent education within a space where they feel seen and safe. We must support the work of bolstering positive climate and culture. Learning and achievement gains will follow.

How limiting it is to show our children that in order to get what you may need, you have to step on others to get there. It also perpetuates this fear-based model of winners and losers. Choosing to deny our fraught racial history is hurtful. Subscribing to a narrative that helping one minority group means rejecting the needs and successes of another is not part of our community's values and has no place in the future of our district. Shedding this fear is imperative.

The Bristol Warren Regional School District is full of educators and administrators who can walk and chew gum at the same time and do it well. Great educators know how to serve the needs of all students, but they do need support in how to best attend to the needs of our students now, in a stressful and tense political and cultural world. Our students need mental health services and support, and our educators need the proper training to implement that programming successfully.

In order for us to build a truly great district, we have to change our collective lens. We need to believe and execute decision making that empower our leaders to lead, our teachers to teach and our students to learn. We must trust those that have dedicated their lives to teaching and the great ideals that public education strives for every day. There is enough, we are enough and through open dialogue and honest conversations about how we can meet the needs of all of our students, we can not only be enough, we can be amazing.

We must start to repair the holes in our boat. Our children and the future of our community depends on it.

Carly N. Reich
Bristol

Ms. Reich is a member of the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee.

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