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Wednesday, November 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Equal Praise Spokane’s Schools Are Looking To Honor Those Who Honr Equity

By Sandra Macquinn Special To Perspective

All parents send their children off to school for the first time with some trepidation.

“Will his teacher figure out what genius material my kid is?”

“Will other people love her as much as her family does?”

“Will she be given the kind of education she has a right to - and the opportunity to be successful?”

“Will he be safe, physically and emotionally?”

The answers to the first two questions arrive soon, in the form of the feelings the little person brings back home.

(No, Mrs. Johnson seems not to have been convinced yet that your adored child is a total genius. In fact, she suggests some loving work on addition might be in order. No, the other kids haven’t given your daughter the congeniality award. Instead, she didn’t have anyone special to eat lunch with today.)

Parents soon learn that school is not an all-positive cocoon of protection and adoration for their young one. When their child comes home unhappy, parents know they need to listen to the child, and teach that it’s probably not the end of the world: Most experiences turn into opportunities to learn something about life that is healthy.

The second two questions, however, should not be handled the same way. Although schools are not perfect, you and your child have a right to expect that they will strive to be when it concerns the issues of equal and positive treatment of all students, and the physical and emotional safety of every learner.

Your sons and daughters have been told by the Spokane Public Schools that they belong, and are wanted there, and they are. It is stated policy that every child be treated fairly by educators and the system itself.

It is the right of all learners to know that they are safe. That means that they do not have to worry about verbal abuse, hear inappropriate or derogatory terms, or think that anything about them is cause for neglect, disrespect or singling out.

The whole school is there to assure that your child has his or her very best chance to learn in an environment that values and honors the individual child. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

And it is. In every District 81 school and district office and yellow school bus, and locker room, and computer lab - educators of all kinds are working hard to make sure that this is exactly the atmosphere you are sending your child to. This is simple, basic and morally right, and it is called the Equity Policy.

But you, as a parent of that child, and I, as a teacher of 24 years, know that even with those policies and good intentions in place sometimes you have to look your child in the eye and listen to a story about ignorance, rotten language, bad choices, disrespect or downright cruelty. Fed by hatred, fear, insecurity and plain stupidity, some people don’t live up to this standard.

At that point parents get involved in educating the school about the needs of that child.

They call, they visit, they ask questions - and they get answers. Everybody benefits when you do this, most of all the child in question.

In tandem with teachers and administrators who care about the youngster, parents should call the system into alignment with good policy. It’s right to make sure your voice is heard, and schools should listen. But you are also aware that you should be heard when someone is doing something right.

When your child comes home from school with a spring in her step because her particular ethnicity has been honored today, when your son needed an advocate and found one in his teacher, when your daughter has been encouraged to take that extra math class at the honors level because she is bright and should pursue it, when someone with a disability has been in the classroom explaining the challenges of his or her particular life to third-graders, when anywhere in schools understanding, fairness, enlightenment, and tolerance are “the way we do business” - you should also speak up.

Now is your chance.

If you know an educator, group of students, program, or classroom that is making equity education a positive priority for the benefit of the children of Spokane, call or write for an application to nominate them for an equity award.

Take a moment to thank and honor those who seek to teach our kids how to cope, how to treat others with dignity, and - in a world that is so harsh for our children - how to dream of a better one.

MEMO: Sandra MacQuinn is an English teacher and Teaching Academy supervisor at Rogers High School in Spokane School District 81.

This sidebar appeared with the story: DIVERSITY AND EQUITY AWARDS For the third year, Spokane School District 81 is conducting an awards program to recognize students, employees and community members who have made outstanding contributions to an environment that values and positively portrays diversity in Spokane Public Schools. The district’s Affirmative Action Council, in cooperation with the Instructional Equity Citizens will honor the winners at the Diversity & Equity Awards Ceremony from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15, in the Student Union Building at Spokane Community College, Mission and Greene. Nominations are being sought in eight categories: 1. Individual student, grades K-6. 2. Student group, grades K-6. 3. Individual student, grades 7-12. 4. Student group, grades 7-12. 5. Certificated staff member. 6. Classified staff member. 7. Administrator. 8. Community member or group. Nominees will be judged on their specific accomplishments, their level of commitment and the impact of their actions. For information or to obtain a nomination form, contact Ivan Bush at the Equity Educational Support Office, 353-3301. Nomination forms also will be available by Feb. 19 at all District 81 schools. The deadline for submitting nominations is March 21.

Sandra MacQuinn is an English teacher and Teaching Academy supervisor at Rogers High School in Spokane School District 81.

This sidebar appeared with the story: DIVERSITY AND EQUITY AWARDS For the third year, Spokane School District 81 is conducting an awards program to recognize students, employees and community members who have made outstanding contributions to an environment that values and positively portrays diversity in Spokane Public Schools. The district’s Affirmative Action Council, in cooperation with the Instructional Equity Citizens will honor the winners at the Diversity & Equity Awards Ceremony from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15, in the Student Union Building at Spokane Community College, Mission and Greene. Nominations are being sought in eight categories: 1. Individual student, grades K-6. 2. Student group, grades K-6. 3. Individual student, grades 7-12. 4. Student group, grades 7-12. 5. Certificated staff member. 6. Classified staff member. 7. Administrator. 8. Community member or group. Nominees will be judged on their specific accomplishments, their level of commitment and the impact of their actions. For information or to obtain a nomination form, contact Ivan Bush at the Equity Educational Support Office, 353-3301. Nomination forms also will be available by Feb. 19 at all District 81 schools. The deadline for submitting nominations is March 21.

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