Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board,
We submit this letter to you in support of our children’s school, Rosedale Elementary.
We chose Rosedale as the best fit for our family in 2014, when our daughter was an incoming kindergartener. As you know, April teaches at Chico Junior High School. Rosedale is one of her feeder schools. She observed her students for a long time and thought about the values that each of our local elementary schools embodies before choosing. In her former Rosedale students, she noticed empathy, compassion, kindness, respect, and curiosity. When it came time to select an elementary school, Rosedale was the obvious choice.
For the past eight years that the Hislops have been part of the Rosedale family, the teachers and administrators have embodied values of equity and compassion while still holding their students to high academic standards. Our children have enjoyed participating in cultural traditions and celebrations that honor people from a variety of different countries and walks of life. They’ve learned about Cesar Chavez, Black History Month, and almost every holiday that can be celebrated from a variety of world religions. They have worked in the garden over the many years it’s been in existence, and our daughter proudly danced with the baile folklorico troupe. As a family, we have attended the Dia de los Muertos Festival, Night with Santa, and Multicultural Night. Contrary to the perception of some current Rosedale families, all of these mapache milestones over the years have been established and maintained by the teachers, and most of them have been in existence for at least a decade.
Many members of the Rosedale community are currently concerned about the vice principal’s employment status. We do not know the whole story, and we write this letter in neither support nor condemnation of her. However, it is essential to establish that the Rosedale staff was devoted to equity, compassion, and multiculturalism before she was hired, and regardless of her employment status, they will continue to be.
The word “equity” is a buzzword that has turned into a rallying cry to support actions that are sometimes theatrical and performative, but do not always represent that which makes a child’s experience in school truly equitable. As veteran teachers, we would like to review what equity looks like within a quality classroom. No matter how many marches, bulletin boards, or fun activities you plan, they don’t matter if you aren’t doing the following:
–Ensuring every child has access to quality materials, curriculum, and supplies.
–Structuring lessons that support the Common Core standards while taking students’ varying backgrounds and competencies into consideration.
–Celebrating students’ identities, backgrounds, languages, and cultures.
–Valuing students’ home languages and countries of origin while inviting them to form a family within the classroom.
–Administering high-quality formative and summative assessments that measure students’ various strengths and skills and aggregating the data from said assessments to inform future instruction.
–Assessing student work fairly and objectively.
–Maintaining a safe space for students of various political backgrounds to engage, discuss, and learn together, as practice for the adult work of responsible and respectful civic engagement that every American is called to.
–Creating engaging activities that invite every student into wonder, community, and joy.
We have no fear that this important work will continue within the beloved classrooms of Rosedale, as it has for over a decade, due to the tireless leadership and blessed work of its teachers partnering with the terrific families who have invested years into making Rosedale what it is.
April Carmo Hislop, Chico Junior High School English Department
Nathan Hislop, Pleasant Valley High School English Department