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Many parents praise — and some criticize — Jeffco superintendent’s statement on Charlottesville

PHOTO: Bob Mical/Creative Commons

Dozens of Jeffco public school parents praised the superintendent’s recent statement on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Others criticized it, with some voicing concern that teachers might express political opinions in the classroom.

In the Aug. 16 statement, Superintendent Jason Glass said resources would be provided to teachers interested in talking about Charlottesville and that the district will not tolerate threats or harassment. He also invited feedback from members of the community.

In response to a request from Chalkbeat, Jeffco officials provided 63 messages sent to the district after Glass’s statement was posted on the district’s website and sent home as a letter to parents. The district redacted the senders’ names and email addresses. (See all responses below.)

About two-thirds of respondents thanked or otherwise lauded Glass for his statement.

One wrote, “Thank you so much for proactively sending out such an appropriate message. I think it’s fair to say many families with children of all ages have been struggling with this conversation.”

A district staff member, one of three who responded, wrote, “I am so glad we have a superintendent who is willing to address this issue directly!”

But not everyone was complimentary.

One parent wrote, “I’ll continue to teach my kids values. Please place your focus on Math and English. Once you’ve done that well, you can become concerned with civics and ethics. Stop doing a poor job at many things and focus on doing a few things well.”

Another wrote, “This should be a very easy lesson to teach. On racist drove his car into another group of opposing racists. Thats what my kids were taught. No need for you to worry about it.”

But some criticized Glass, who took the district’s top job this summer, for not going further.

One respondent wrote, “Is there a problem with calling Trump out by name? How can this be treated as a learning opportunity without the willingness to approach it with complete honesty? And please don’t tell me that you want to keep politics out of it.”

A couple parents asked for details about what Charlottesville resources district officials planned to share with teachers or students.

Others voiced concern about racist displays or incidents their kids had witnessed at Jeffco schools.

One parent wrote, “There is more than one student over at Arvada West that displays the Confederate Flag out of the backs of their pickup trucks. They are referred to as the “Concrete Cowboys”. My student was upset by their racist behaviors. Why was this type of display tolerated on school grounds last year? Will it continue this year? I hope no.”

Another parent wrote, “My son mentioned many times last year of students using the n word and making anti Semitic statements. I think they need to be told this is not ok or allowed.”

District spokeswoman Diana Wilson said in an email message that the district’s achievement director or school principals have followed up on any specific incidents mentioned in the emails to Glass. In cases where complaints were vague, she said school leaders were informed and asked to be alert for any violations of district policy.

Wilson said district officials have heard the complaint about Confederate flags being displayed in vehicles at Arvada West High School previously. This time, officials discovered the vehicle displaying the flag belonged to a graduate who spends time near the school but not on school property. She said the school’s principal is tracking the situation.

#GovTest

Where Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker stand on key education issues, from charters to Chicago’s school board

PHOTO: (Rauner) Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images; (Pritzker) Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Our conversations with Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and challenger J.B. Pritzker will be aired on Oct. 3 on WBEZ 91.5 FM.

The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in U.S. history, and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has probably seen or heard one of the barrage of ads for the candidates. There have been puppies, toilets, and plenty of barbs over wealth and taxes — and the back-and-forth has drowned out the discussion over where the candidates stand on education, arguably one of the most crucial policy areas facing the state.

To dig deeper, Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

The interviews will be separate, but will be broadcast back-to-back on WBEZ 91.5 FM on Oct. 3 starting at 8 a.m.  

In advance of the discussion, Chalkbeat and WBEZ asked each candidate for his position on five questions, and we’ve reprinted their answers in their entirety. We’re also soliciting interview suggestions from our readers and listeners. Use this form to submit a question to us, and follow along with the discussion on Oct. 3 using #GovTest.

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What would you ask Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker about education?

Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

Use the form below to submit questions for the conversations, which will air back-to-back on Oct. 3 at 8 a.m.