During public participation at the Edmond Public School Board meeting last night, many claims and accusations were made. At that time, I promised a response to those claims. That is the purpose of this document.
On a personal note, as I listened to the claims and criticism against our district, I was greatly distressed. These negative and sometimes false comments of a few are causing administrators and teachers to feel unsupported by a community that is known for its support of education. I felt it was important for our community to hear the facts.
- Every summer our language arts teachers meet to review and update our reading list. The Glass Castle has been on our 10th-grade reading list for 8 years.
- The Glass Castle is on the reading list as a personal narrative. It is in 10th grade because it fills the genre requirement for a non-fiction, memoir work at this grade level. It is College Board-approved and often used as a selection on the AP Literature test.
- As a memoir, the Glass Castle allows students to look into the life of someone else. In particular, this memoir shows how some deal with family tragedies, mental illness, and alcoholism. Vicariously, students can learn lessons from others’ lives, including the difference an education can make and the resilience required by some to overcome their circumstances.
- For any who may object to Glass Castle – or any work of literature studied in class – alternative selections are offered.
- Admittedly, there are some difficult and sensitive passages in the Glass Castle, but teachers do not reference these in class nor are they read out loud in class or part of the class discussion.
- For our complete reading list go to https://edmondschools.net/district/departments/curriculum/
Teaching about Ted Bundy
- We are not teaching about Ted Bundy in 4th grade.
- A 4th-grade class was learning about the Bill of Rights. They reached the Fifth Amendment’s right to remain silent. The teacher explained that meant the government could not force someone to admit to or discuss a crime, regardless of their guilt or innocence. One student offered that Ted Bundy never confessed to being a murderer. Another student agreed, saying that her mom had watched a “Ted Bundy show,” and she learned that as well. The teacher replied “Yes, the right to remain silent is a constitutional right all US citizens have,” and then she proceeded to redirect the conversation to the Sixth Amendment.
School Board Members
- School board members do not receive a salary or any compensation for their service to the Edmond Public Schools.
- School board members were elected by the voters in their districts to serve. Resigning would be a disservice to the majority of voters in their districts who elected them.
- Regarding the assertion that our school board members are liberal Marxists, you do not know them. They are serving, volunteering their time, to make sure our community has the best schools possible.
- School board members have to look at a decision from multiple points of view before they vote on it. They base their decision on what is best for students not on the loudest voice or the person who emails them the most.
- School board members receive no compensation; so no ESSER funds go toward school board members.
- The superintendent’s salary is not paid by ESSER funds. This would not be an approved expenditure.
- All ESSER expenditures are reviewed and approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
- ESSER funds have requirements. One requirement is that 20% must be spent toward learning loss and all funds must be spent toward preventing, preparing for, and responding to Covid. (See this document.)
- There are no requirements for quarantines, masks, or vaccines tied to the receipt of the ESSER funds. We are not receiving any extra funds because we are requiring masks.
- We did not require parents to sign the form to opt-out of the mask requirement. If a parent sent us an email, we accepted that.
- There are various opinions on the effectiveness of masks. The advice we received from the medical community supported the importance of masks as an important part of our mitigation plan.
- In reference to the EPS mask requirement, we have provided the opt out choice for any parent who is opposed to this mitigation practice.
Parents in the Buildings
- At the beginning of the pandemic, no parents were allowed in the building.
- This school year volunteers are allowed in the building, but not in the classroom. They can work in common areas or in PAL/PTO rooms.
- We will increase parent access in the buildings as our Covid numbers decrease and as safety measures allow.
Critical Race Theory (CRT)
- CRT is an academic framework that is more than 40 years old and taught at the college level. It examines how systemic racism is ingrained in America’s history.
- CRT is not an Oklahoma Standard and is not taught in Edmond schools.
- Working to make sure every student belongs and feels welcome in our schools is not CRT.
- Teaching students how to understand their emotions is not CRT.
- Despite the accusation of one parent at the meeting, we do not teach students to hate their country. From our veterans programs to our lessons on the OKC Memorial, we teach respect for our country and its values. We teach the Oklahoma state standards. Here are the Oklahoma Social Studies Standards. This is what is taught about America.
- Here is a link to all Oklahoma K-6 standards. Guide for Parents for K-6
Inclusion is Not CRT
- It is important to the leadership at Edmond Public Schools that every student has a place in our schools.
- Every student needs a positive connection with at least one adult in the building.
- Dr. Grunewald has read the book Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity by Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple. She believes there are many takeaways from this book that are important for educators, such as treating every student and teacher with dignity. The book also addresses ways to create a positive, healthy culture where everyone feels they belong. Belonging doesn’t just mean that you are allowed to attend school. Belonging means you are connected and feel you are an important part of the school.
Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum (student supports)
- Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. People with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially. From effective problem-solving to self-discipline, from impulse control to emotion management and more, SEL provides a foundation for positive, long-term effects on kids, adults, and communities. Here is a current document from the SDE that defines SEL and why we teach it.
- It has always been important to meet the needs of the whole student at school. We cannot educate students until their physical and emotional needs are met.
- Taking care of the whole child is more important during and following a pandemic than ever before.
- We have increased our student supports by increasing our number of counselors and supplementing their work with a solid level of support for all students.