The November 3 election and its fallout have created unrest and unease throughout the country. Portland Public Schools has gathered resources to support students and families as we continue to deal with the results of the election through the inaugaration and beyond.
A Message from the Superintendent
January 15, 20201
American democracy offers a myriad of ways to participate and engage. We are in a time of increasing social division, young people demanding a racial reckoning, a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and the threat of continued violent riots. The 2020 presidential election and aftermath are further testing our community and country. They challenge us to ask ourselves: Who are we, and what do we want for our future?
As educators, we have an opportunity and obligation to support our students (most of whom are not yet of voting age) by helping them understand how our democracy works and ensuring they have the objective knowledge of current issues to put in context the outcomes of an election. We have a responsibility to make sure our students understand that civic participation is necessary for our democracy to thrive. The more our students know about our systems of government, the more prepared they will be to engage in critical civic discourse and participate in the betterment of our community. Additionally, our values of racial equity and social justice require us to provide culturally responsive curriculum and instruction. We must assist students to develop critical consciousness and sociopolitical awareness to challenge injustice and disrupt inequities and oppression of any group of people. Public education can be a powerful antidote for the lack of civility we often see in political discourse today. We have the skill and practice to support students as they develop their own critical thinking and empowerment skills.
Now more than ever, we need the next generation of leaders to demonstrate the characteristics outlined in our vision, PPS reImagined. The heart of our vision is the Graduate Portrait. It is our promise to our students and families. At this moment, our students are called upon to navigate and adapt to complex challenges, and three elements of the graduate portrait are especially applicable:
- Resilient and Adaptable Learners where students can embrace discomfort and navigate persistently through failure to success by adapting themselves to the environment or changing it. They make use of community and cultural assets to develop networks of allies to help them persevere through challenges and embrace continuous learning for professional growth and personal fulfillment.
- Reflective, Empathetic, and Empowering Graduates where students demonstrate empathy, curiosity, respect, and interest in other points of view. They seek to empower others and are accepting, appreciative, compassionate, and kind toward others.
- Transformative Racial Equity Leaders where students understand how our communities have been impacted by racial injustice, and they can recognize and interrupt the conditions that enable it. They can deconstruct the dominant narrative and change it to a more balanced and inclusive one. As racial equitydriven problem solvers, they engage in community conversations about social justice issues and help develop and implement solutions that respect and include the perspectives of other cultures.
I want to encourage all of the adults in our PPS community to draw upon our reserves of resilience to support our students’ learning and the contextualization of this time in our democracy. I believe as strongly as ever in the power of democracy and our role as educators to support it.If we want to champion positive transformative change, we have to fight misinformation with education and support the principles of a just democracy. I want to continue to stress the importance of everyone in our PPS community coming together to support one another. By recognizing our mutual interdependence, we can continue to strengthen our school system so that our students are empowered and prepared for all the challenges before us.
We updated and adapted our 2020 Election Tool Kit into our Civic Engagement and Unrest: A Tool Kit for Resilience and Empowerment (above). It contains information, guidance, and resources to assist staff preparation for the inauguration and beyond. This tool kit includes an outline of staff expectations, access to lesson plans that align with our graduate portrait, election and civics content, professional development tools for educators, a directory of internal and external supports for students, our Guidelines for Political Speech and PPS Hate Speech Protocols, and a list of additional supports for staff. This tool kit can also be found on the PPS Site Admin Portal and will continue to be updated over time.