There’s a lot of division in the world today, in America, in New Hampshire - and our kids are watching how we, their parents, teachers, elected officials, and neighbors respond. The School Board’s mission statement includes this: “Our students will be informed decision makers who define issues, research alternatives, consider consequences, solve problems, and make choices that demonstrate intellectual integrity and rigorous evaluation.” I believe this is the most important part of any education. It’s the part that shapes not just how big decisions will be made in the future, but also how people interact every day.
Developing compassionate, informed decision makers also means finding appropriate ways to have the hard conversations about where we’ve been as a society and who we are today. Our teachers should not only feel supported in creating opportunities for students to think critically and talk openly about our nation’s and the world’s darker historical and current events, but should also be encouraged to do so as part of a real world education.
No matter what side of an issue we fall on instinctively, we benefit from learning how to see every side, from looking beyond the surface of the most compelling arguments, and being open to having our minds changed, even just a little bit, to find common ground.
Of course, there are issues that shouldn’t require even reasoned debate, starting with the ongoing reality of everyday discrimination and hate crimes based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and identity. As we watch people become ever-braver in challenging discrimination in every form, we can’t ignore that this is the world our students live in, and should be first in line as a community in encouraging their roles in this conversation.
As a member of Concord’s School Board, I would work hard to find ways to protect our most vulnerable students from discrimination and make our schools brave spaces to address our community’s hardest challenges.