OFF THE SHELF: Safety. Community. Culture – February 2017
by Neil Ranu, LAPCS Governance Director
These are the major concerns for all of us involved in schools today. Most immediately, our interest is protecting our people: our students and staff. At board meetings, I’ve seen boards reassess their policies and procedures on school safety with the utmost care and attention. This must be done. And after we have responded to the urgencies of now, the conversation must continue.
The board is the place where a charter school ultimately defines its purpose and values. The deeper questions confronting our boards are: How will we care for our school communities? Will we be defined by what happens to us, or will we create our communities from the values we hold? Our answers to these questions reflect the future we envision.
There are no easy answers. There have never been. I know many who look for signs that all has been lost and that our culture is irredeemable. But we are not at the end of history. The pull of nostalgia may be strong, but we do not have to look for a past to return to. We have the power to cultivate the communities we want to live in. And we begin by saying very precisely what we believe.
There are resources that can guide you. In March, a panel of youth advocates will be convening in New Orleans to discuss the emotional and psychological well-being of today’s youth. The details are below. And online, the Teaching Tolerance campaign includes materials to guide school-based discussions on mental health and school safety.
There is no such thing as business as usual for boards. Your role is to forge ahead into the unknown.