Superintendent Message on Social Justice

A Message from the BOE/Superintendent of Schools:

 In the wake of tragic national events and the subsequent protests against racism and for social justice, our attention as leaders, rightfully so, is focused on leading a complex school system towards a more just and inclusive tomorrow.  The Branford Public Schools district leadership team acknowledges that these events have impacted our community.  As a group that includes a mix of ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations, some of us directly experience what it is like to be “other” and to navigate institutional systems not designed to include us. We are committed to engaging in the ongoing dialogue about institutionalized racism and other oppressions beginning with resources on our website to allow our students and families resources to begin these conversations at home.

 For us to succeed in our mission to educate students, we must reaffirm our commitment to create schools where all children and adults feel safe and welcomed and know that they are seen and heard. We must strive toward the goal of educating all students with the tools needed to think, speak, and act as full and equal participants in our democracy and as global citizens.  To bring this vision to fruition, we will need to address the root causes of inequity, including but not limited to system racism, in order to create enduring change.

 We have started this work.  BPS administrators, teachers, and coaches are developing a more inclusive English Language Arts curriculum that honors student voice and choice. Built around pedagogies that foster student agency, English classrooms feature reading lists that incorporate a range of black and brown authors, and we continue to add texts reflecting diverse voices every year.  BPS elementary and intermediate school libraries have been identified as “Rainbow Libraries” because of the access they provide students to LGBTQ+ texts.  BPS staff also received training in providing a safe and respectful school environment for transgender and gender nonconforming students. While not directly foregrounding equity, multiple professional learning sessions have incorporated issues of race and ethnicity. To support these efforts to better reflect the diversity of the school population, our district continues to explore ways to attract, recruit, and hire candidates of color for district employment.

While this work is ongoing, it is critical we do more. It is our moral imperative to create a district free of bias, discrimination, and identity-predictable outcomes and experiences. To do so, we will seek to learn about the experiences of students and adults in the Branford Public Schools who have felt “othered” and openly listen to their responses without defensiveness. By continuing to educate ourselves, the Board and the faculty around equity and the intersectionalities of race, class, and other identities, we become better leaders and teachers.  We will be thoughtful and inclusive when analyzing the impact of our policies and structures on different demographic groups and work to address the root causes of identity-based inequities. Through this process our curricular offerings and our pedagogies will grow to reflect all voices.

This work will not be easy.  It will take courage, and it will take time. But it must happen. As leaders of Branford Public Schools, we embrace the responsibility we have to ensure that our district does its part. If there is anything to be taken from this current moment, it is this: as a nation, we must be reflective and act in order to make lasting change. By doing so, “the more perfect society” our founders called for will become a reality.