In the News
- SCHOOL AFFAIRS
Dear Saint Francis Families,
Our hearts remain heavy following an incredibly painful, traumatic week for our community - most especially our African-American families and colleagues. Our calling from Jesus demands that we acknowledge and respond to the unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in addition to the millions of others whose murders have not been covered by the media or whose names have been lost to history over centuries of oppression and violence. We know the overt acts of racism and misogyny that transpired within our community this week are layered on top of repeated trauma, and we are deeply sorry for the suffering our community is experiencing. We want to be clear that this behavior is in complete contradiction with our Holy Cross mission and values, and want to reiterate that our school administration is working as quickly as possible to investigate the allegations and communicate with all students and families involved. Additionally, we want our students to know that engagement in racist behavior is categorically unacceptable, and will warrant serious disciplinary action.
We also know that words mean far less than actions, and our goal today is to share more information about the work we are engaged in to combat racism and discrimination on our campus as well as priorities and goals for the upcoming school year in this space. While we cannot change past incidents or actions, we can demonstrate our commitment to equity, anti-racism, and inclusion. We will work together to ensure these types of behaviors do not occur on our campus in the future, and we are grateful for your partnership in this important work.
While the information we share today is intended to provide background and context for the foundational work we have done this year to help create a more inclusive school climate and culture, it is no way intended to take away from or diminish the very real pain and experiences our students have experienced. We look forward to continuing to add goals and priorities to this work throughout the school year, and value your voices in those efforts.
Dialogue and Connection with Families
We will be hosting an initial listening session for our community via Zoom on Wednesday, June 10th. We will share more information, including specific timing and a link to register for this event, early next week, and will schedule follow-up sessions throughout the summer.
We also welcome conversations with any members of our community who would like to contact us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com). Our school community is committed to providing ways to make sure that all voices are heard, so that we can grow in understanding and continue to take action.
Fr. Tony Mancuso, our school chaplain, will be leading a prayer service with our school community next week. As a Holy Cross, Catholic school, it is important that our community is able to come together in prayer and hope for a world where justice and love prevail. We hope that you will join us in prayer for justice and healing. We will share the date, time and online links early next week as well.
Background: Framework for Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion (SJEI)
In the fall of 2018, our school climate survey data, strategic plan priorities, and feedback from our most recent school accreditation all indicated the need for our school to develop a more intentional, sustained program to address issues of equity and inclusion on campus. Meetings with students, parents, and educators helped us to develop the Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion program, which launched this past school year. The team immediately worked to establish overarching goals for the school community, as well as goals specific to each area of the school. We are proud of the progress that we made, but recognize and acknowledge that we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
Resources and Information for Students and Families
Our SJEI team has actively been curating resources throughout the past two weeks to help our students and families to educate themselves and identify ways to take specific action against systemic racism and injustice. We invite and encourage our students and parents to review these resources together, and dialogue about the important issues and challenges they raise.
Commitments for 2020-21
This spring, our SJEI team identified the following areas as priorities for our school to commit to during the 2020-21 school year. We have reaffirmed our commitment to these actions in the following areas, and will share our progress on these and additional goals throughout the school year.
Curriculum: Immediately audit and make changes to our curriculum in all subject areas and hold educators accountable for implementing an anti-bias curriculum that emphasizes student skill development of identified cultural proficiency competencies. In addition, we will start the process of implementing an ethnic studies graduation requirement for all incoming students and focus our elective offerings to courses rooted in social justice.
Restorative Practices: The student handbook for next year has been modified to emphasize restorative practices. The revised policies include positive behavioral intervention strategies, replacing previous policies that lacked clarity and were received as more punitive in nature. We commit to implementing these policies fully and continuing to assess our discipline process.
Hiring and Business Practices: Enact hiring practices that will ultimately lead to the school’s educators reflecting the demographics of the Diocese of San Jose. We will reflect on how and where we recruit educators and write new guidelines for our hiring, procurement, and contracting policies.
While we have been intentional about setting priorities for our school community to help move our school culture forward, we also know we have much to learn from our community. We look forward to continuing to listen, hearing about your experiences and needs, and growing from our dialogue.
Jason D. Curtis