To the Editor:
I am writing to express and reiterate my support of the School District of Chathams (SDOC) curriculum policy and the educators, Administrators and Board who appear to be using sincere and genuine effort to implement it with the goal to provide the best and broadest learning experience for our students. Specifically, I am referring to the topic of the social studies 7th grade curriculum which came up at the Feb. 6 Board of Ed meeting.
Barring any verified information to the contrary, I am starting with the assumption the teachers are objectively implementing the district's curriculum which is aligned with the guidelines from the state and which includes enhancing students knowledge of diverse cultures, backgrounds and groups, hopefully to promote understanding and acceptance. Knowledge of domestic and world cultures, historical perspectives, current events and the shaping of values belong in the classroom.
As I stated at the Board meeting, I do support acceptance and tolerance of all faiths. I am inclusive not only of all faiths, but of cultures, races and diverse backgrounds. All indicators I observe whenever I attend board meetings point to the SDOC, its staff and representatives sharing the same mindset of objectivity, inclusiveness and acceptance. To reach far-sweeping statements that an educator was intentionally proselytizing promotes confusion at best and hysteria at worst.
The purpose of education, as I see it, is to expose us to great thinkers' knowledge on many topics across all disciplines. From there we take what we learn and hopefully, in some small measure, affect the world for the better.
Everyone has a right to their own opinion as long as those opinions are within the commonly accepted norms of decency, fairness, kindness, peacefulness and safety. In my opinion, any discussion or debate of religions or politics, historical and current offered in a cultural context, which is age-appropriate, broad and ecumenical are under the purview of a public school education.
I do urge the SDOC, through dialogue, to answer any questions and clarify any misconceptions which may exist about the curriculum or which may have developed from the article "Chatham Parents Question Emphasis on Islam in 7th Grade World Cultures and Geography Class;" however this request should not be taken out of context nor should any inference be made that the administration and board lack my support on this issue. Clarification, I surmise, would demonstrate and allay concerns that all lessons are proffered fairly and balanced, with no one topic being taught at the exclusion of the other.
Simply, to state the obvious, it is always important to gain facts, dialogue, be open-minded and fluid before reaching conclusions of any kind.