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    Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You

    Dear Parent, Guardians, and Caregivers, 

    The death of George Floyd on May 25 sparked national and international protests for racial justice.  As a public school district community, part of our collective job is to help students make sense of complex topics and develop the skills to communicate civilly with each other.  Issues of race and ethnicity are complex and important topics, and we will be leaning into these conversations this school year. 

    This year, we are introducing Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi as an ancillary book in our secondary social studies courses, grades 7-12.  This provocative book comes from “critical race theory” perspective and will help generate these brave conversations.  Teachers in grades K-6 will be provided age-appropriate books that help them appreciate our diversity.  In the end, when Upper Merion Area students graduate from our high school, we want all of our students to be knowledgeable about various cultures of peoples within America and have the skills to participate in informed and civil conversations about race and ethnicity.  As a result of our teachers’ guidance on these topics, our graduates will be able to effectively work with others in a multicultural workplace and be kind and trusted neighbors. 

    Our students are ready for these conversations, even if adults are apprehensive about having them.  We have a demonstrated record as a school district for managing such courageous conversations.  Two years ago, our high school teachers led dialogue about books on the theme of police brutality against teenagers of color.  Last year, we focused on immigration.  These were not one-sided conversations in which we promote a single lens on such complicated topics.  We welcomed officers of the Upper Merion police department to join our high school literature circles.  Everyone agreed that we want all people to be treated fairly, without prejudice, and to be safe from physical harm.  And then we talk. 

    Cabrini University awarded our district with the “2019 Moral and Courageous Commitment to Equity Award” and two of our high school teachers with “High Impact Teacher Awards” for their leadership on conversations about race and immigration.  This year we will continue exploring challenging issues of identity through books and dialogue. 

    Complex issues don’t have easy answers.  What we aim to do as a school district and as a community with common values is to give our young people the knowledge and skills to thrive in a dynamic and diverse world.  Nationwide, white people make up less than half of the population under age 16.  Every classroom in our Upper Merion Area schools demonstrate our rich and growing diversity, which allows us the opportunity to understand, learn from, and enjoy our classmates who are different from ourselves.  We appreciate your support for these conversations regarding race, racism, and antiracism. 

    Beyond conversations, we have initiated an Equity Task Force focused on action steps in these six areas: Curriculum and Instruction, Disproportionality, Hiring Practices, Professional Development, Parent and Community Engagement, and District Policies and Procedures.  Look for more information from our Equity Task Force in the near future. 

    UMASD Administration and Faculty

Last Modified on August 31, 2020