WAYNE, NJ – Superintendent of Wayne Township Public Schools, Dr. Mark Toback introduced a thoughtexchange survey during the last Board of Education meeting and asked the public to participate to help them achieve their goal of diversity, equity and inclusion.
In a letter dated November 13, Toback announced that in June, the Wayne BOE supported a Resolution Against Racism and “further asserted that our school community shares a collective responsibility to reject all forms of individual and systemic racism as destructive to our educational mission, values, and goals.”
This was described in the letter as an important first step that was followed up with the BOE approving a “specific goal focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Toback is now asking for the community to “get involved in advancing this goal,” through participation in a thoughtexchange survey on the subject.
The survey is completely anonymous and allows students, parents, alumni, Wayne residents, school employees (or “other”) to share their thoughts then rate the thoughts that others have shared on a scale of one to five, with one meaning you strongly disagree with the thought and five meaning you strongly agree.
This is the basic question of the survey: “What are the most important priorities we should consider as we work towards our goal of having a more diverse, inclusive, and culturally competent school system?”
According to the survey, there are currently over 999 thoughts to rate based on this question. The answers show a diversity of thought in the participants.
Here are some examples from the survey:
- Prioritize educating students about conscious and unconscious biases and prejudices as well as racial, gender, and socioeconomic privilege. This will lead to wider perspectives, better understanding of social and economic classes and promote active, socially aware, and empathetic citizens.
- It is up to the families to teach the children about sexual preference and accepting all different cultures. Schools need to TEACH, and the kids need to go to school and toughen up. ALL races get bullied and ALL races matter.
- Changing the mascots of the high schools. We currently have “the oppressor vs. the oppressed” and it’s disrespectful to the Native American community to use their likeness as a mascot
- The Indian mascot is not racist. Are the Spartans, Trojans, Flying Dutchmen, Fighting Irish, Yankees, Canucks, Brooklyn Italians, etc Sheer stupidity? Why don’t we TEACH about Natives....both their good and bad, rather than erasing them?
- We do read some diverse authors like Angelou, Hughes and others but more often we many pieces from the same white authors like Steinbeck and Miller. Replace those with even more diverse authors. Maybe replace Death of a Salesman with Fences, or The Pearl with The Warmth of Other Suns.
- Look at the US history curriculum and see what the content is; does it include the voices of the underrepresented? The decision makers who endorse this curriculum should be diverse themselves and representative of the different people of America.
- I consider the level of diversity and inclusiveness already acceptable and very appropriate within the school system. It is important for schools to educate students academically and allow parents to guide their own children on social, spiritual and moral issues.
- Teaching about race and the history of racism is important. It's not bad to discuss race or encouraging conflict. It's teaching kids (esp white kids who are sheltered) to understand the reality around them
- Putting people into boxes or groups WORSENS the problem. Teach AMERICAN history and just include everyone. No need to have Italian, Greek, Black, Albanian, Left-Handed, Gay Moroccan, Straight Tunisian, etc. History. Just HISTORY.
- Bring in other non-white voices to educate and share stories from another perspective. For students to learn from someone who has lived experiences different than them - students to see examples of nonwhite successes to change bias.
- Majority white teachers, authors being taught, history being taught is not “equal”. It’s been the unchallenged standard. Some of these thoughts show just how much work needs to be done.
The survey ends December 4. To participate, click here.