Corrected: The first two weeks of the 2018 New Year have been filled with a wide array of conversations about immigration, diversity and respect. These conversations have been, at times, disturbing and disheartening to us. As School Board members, we know that our APS staff, students, families and community members also have been saddened by the tone and, at times, malice that has been voiced in many of these conversations.
At the end of 2017 and early this year, we have witnessed the #MeToo movement which has unveiled the continued problems of gender equality and harassment. Sadly, other statements and conversations in the news have illustrated some disheartening examples of intolerance for people from certain nations, most recently including Salvadoran, Haitian and African immigrants. We also have been discouraged by the lack of progress that has been made by our executive and legislative leaders to protect our young Dreamers – those young students who were offered protection from deportation and eligibility for work permits under DACA, the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
In contrast, this week we are celebrating the life, work and aspirations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His message of tolerance, justice, unity and equality are inspiring and uplifting. We are reminded about the importance of not measuring individuals or groups of people by their color, gender, religion, disability or nationality but instead by the content of their character.
Because many of these conversations in our nation and community have been troubling by the hurtful words used and disrespectful sentiments expressed, as school leaders, we believe it is important to reiterate and reaffirm the beliefs and values as articulated in the Arlington Public Schools mission, vision and core values.
As School Board members, educators and school leaders, we welcome all students, regardless of their country of origin, native language, religious, ethnic, social, disability or sexual identity. We value and appreciate Arlington’s diversity for the varied perspectives, history and culture that our immigrant and native families bring to APS. We welcome every student who lives in Arlington, and we are committed to doing our best to ensure that all children achieve their best and are prepared to thrive in our multicultural and global world.
As educational leaders, we are committed to supporting the emotional well-being of our students and strive to ensure that they feel safe and supported at school.
- As we have shared in the past, APS does not require any information about the legal status for ANY of our students. Not only is this required by federal law, but we believe that, morally and ethically, our mission is to serve ALL children in our community.
- We also do not share any confidential student information with outside groups without parental consent.
- We encourage ALL students to continue to come to school every day.
As elected leaders, we will continue to urge our national and state leaders to support legislation to protect the rights of our DACA students and immigrant families. All APS administrators and school staff, including our principals, teachers, counselors, classroom assistants, social workers and other members of our APS team, are here to support EVERY student or family who needs help.
We believe that America’s diversity is a major strength and a key component of what makes our nation great. We are grateful for the privilege of serving the Arlington community and we value your continued care and support.