This blog represents my opinions and my opinions alone, and certainly doesn't represent the collective thoughts of any of the Boards or organizations that I serve on. Unfortunately I make all sorts of miistakes, I'm a picky eater, I can't sing and I just recently found out I have been spelling certain words in my vocabulary wrong my entire life. That being said, I still continue to muddle ever onward. Welcome.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And While We Continue To Fiddle Around...

This is what's on fire at Monona Grove High School:

Why aren't the blogs jam-packed with comments on this issue? Where are all the outraged letters to the School Board? Where are our district's priorities? All of the various factions within this district mobilize whenever their interests are in jeopardy, I challenge them all to mobilize together on this one.


  1. This is an email from district resident Jo Oyama-Miller to the Board. With her permission, I am reposting it here.

    Dear School Board Members:

    I write this email because I feel this issue is even greater than our school budget problems. I urge you to review this incident and any others past or present and to proceed with justice, patience and a commitment to secure the safety of all our school children. As a member of the minority community in our school district, my family and children have from time to time felt the "sting" of racial injustice. In each case, I worked with the school, teachers and families to resolve the hatred and covert actions of a few.

    If I or my family can assist in this manner, please feel free to call upon us. I want to be sure that the communities of Cottage Grove and Monona can come together and show the world that we do NOT tolerate hatred and racial injustice and any form of gang activity. I hope that you can come up with a resolution to demonstrate that MG School District has "zero" tolerance for racial harassment.

    I know that when my children went to school, there were time when they also experienced racial harassment but we were able to resolve the situations quickly and permanently. It doesn't matter whether the problem is limited to a few or a lot- we need to deal with it effectively for all concerned.

  2. Another email to the Board, this one is from Meghan Walsh.

    Dear Colleagues,

    I'm reaching out to my colleagues in the district to encourage thoughtful and introspective consideration of the highly charged recent discussions of racial tensions in our school district.

    In some instances, I have felt concerned that our community often recognizes only the most extreme and blatant actions as actually constituting "racism", excuses offenders as 'young ignorant kids', denies the problems that people of color present as their lived reality, and blames minority communities for the "problem." .

    Some of you know that I have been working diligently during the past 3 years to become a better ally in our school community and our community at large.
    I've taken several classes, participate in a number of online forums, read and continue to read about ways to resist racism, and dedicated myself to being an
    anti-racist parent.

    I've scoured some of my favorite resources and included links to those I find accessible/readable/friendly/pertinent to the myriad of discussions happening in public and private spaces in
    our schools, homes, and communities.

    Here are some sources - I promise I've tried to keep them readable, brief, and powerful. I know we don't have enormous amounts of time on our hands to delve into resources. But, we must.

    I hope my efforts help move our students and our own lives spaces of increasing understanding, compassion, and dialogue. I hope that if you have resources you would like to share that you will add to this conversation with information to continue our community learning. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Here it is!

    This is an all time classic by Peggy McIntosh. It is an excellent exercise you can do in 15 minutes. Do it. Please.

    My good friend wrote this great piece on how to be an ally. She's a white woman and a teacher. Her son, like mine, is African-American. We both have been working very hard to understand our privilege and more deeply recognize the unearned benefits of our whiteness. The end of her article includes other awesome resources for self-reflection and processing.

    This link references the program "NIOT" (Not in Our Town) which has become a national movement to combat bullying and racism in schools.
    I know there are many programs - this is one that has available resources for the classroom and community.
    Discussion of NOIT with some video clips of parents and kids:

    For those of you who are visual learners - a 3 minute discussion about how to talk about racism.

    This is an interview with one of my heroes, Beverly Daniel Tatum. She has written many books about race in America. I highly recommend Why Are All The Blacks Kids Sitting Together in The Cafeteria and Let's Talk about Race. I wrote a 'book review' for a local class (Racial Healing) on Let's Talk About Race - feel free to ask for it.

    Read anything and everything by Tim Wise. I particularly recommend White Like Me or his blog for brief pieces.

    *Have a fabulous spring break!*
    Meghan Walsh
    Social Studies
    Monona Grove High School

  3. And from MGHS art teacher, Judith Durley.

    I'm going to jump in and assume two things:
    - the recent spate of emails regarding racism were initiated by the
    article in Wednesday's Wisconsin State Journal.
    - they were sent with the intention of improving MG schools, not in
    the belief that any members of the staff ever use the "n " word, or
    allow racial slurs to be used in their classrooms.

    I just have to respond in defense of our students and staff in saying
    that article was/is a bum rap. The vast, vast majority of our
    students are not and do not engage in any racist talk or activities.
    The staff respects and cares for all our students. The administration
    is aware of and responding to the tiny "gang" type group.

    There's always room for improvement, and I know many staff members are
    consciously working to develop more inclusive curricula and create a
    more welcoming environment. The administration supported me by paying
    for curriculum hours while I entirely rewrote 3D art last summer.

    I've been assigned to lunch duty for four years. There is only one
    table that is consistently all white – ALL the rest are mixed at this
    time. It wasn't like this four years ago - every year it gets better,
    not worse. There is no atmosphere of animosity between races. I know
    there are no students afraid to be in the commons.

    I've been involved in breaking up four fights this year. None of the
    fights have had combatants of different races.

    For myself, I wholeheartedly enjoy the variety of students that come
    into my classroom every day. I know my peers love these kids and go
    out of their way to help them succeed.

    I'm proud to be a member of our MG family.

    Judith Durley
    Art Teacher
    NHS Advisor

  4. With all due respect, Ms. Durley's letter is illustrative of the problem - which is "We don't have a problem. It's just a tiny group and everyone else is fine." If the majority wants to know how the minority is feeling, then the majority needs to stop talking about their perception of the issue and start listening. We cannot discuss race only among the majority.