Dear Monticello community:
The Monticello Central School District recognizes that despite its best efforts, students of color or those experiencing poverty have not always been treated with the fairness and insight they deserve. One of our Board of Education goals states, in part, “This Board will foster an inclusive culture that sparks community pride, emphasizes kindness and respect and ensures that all students, staff and visitors are valued and supported…”
This is something that the Board, administration, faculty and staff truly believe. However, we need to go beyond kindness, respect, value and support of all students and their families. In times past, many of us have operated under the belief that treating all students the same seemed the fairest way to promote equity and opportunity. But we know from the research, our own data, and the narratives being told locally and nationally that the white experience is not the same as the black or Hispanic experience in school, in the community, or the criminal justice system.
We can do better. We must do better. Students have suffered from instances of bigotry and discrimination because of their ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and ability in the recent past. And while we have worked to address those issues at the building level, we have not done enough or been vocal enough denouncing those instances. We have implemented programs in secondary level, such as Rachel’s Challenge and No Place for Hate. Additionally, our efforts with My Brother’s Keeper, diversity training for staff, social/emotional curricula for younger students, outreach to community organizations, churches, synagogues, and mosques, and the development of school improvement plans that focus specifically on increasing the enrollment of students of color in accelerated and advanced courses are all necessary but not sufficient. They are just the start of the hard, ongoing work to create an inclusive culture.
We cannot by ourselves undue centuries of our history or address the underlying conditions that disadvantage so many of our students. But we do commit the district to make the difference that we can by affirmatively changing the way we do business. We must actively question our policies, procedures, and attitudes, looking for ways that we can reshape our institutional culture around an ethic of equity. This is critical work and will challenge the status quo, but we commit the district to becoming an antiracist district.
We need your participation to inform the work. The first step would be to complete our online survey: MCSD Parent Survey. Thank you in advance for your help, as moving toward a more equitable, open, respectful place for your children – our students – requires all of us.
Dr. William Silver, Interim Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Linda Oehler-Marx, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
Lori Orestano-James, President, Board of Education
Stacey Sharoff, Vice-President, Board of Education
John Maranzana, President, Monticello Teachers’ Association
Doug Murphy, President, Monticello Association of School Administrators