10/25/21 School Board Meeting Guide

Two issues and an announcement were the most important things to come out of last night’s board meeting.

Social-Emotional Learning & Equity

Students in grades 3 through 12 are taking surveys this week to get their perspective on social-emotional learning and equity in the district. District officials will use the survey results to help identify the social-emotional needs of our student body as well as the district’s progress toward its longstanding equity goals. The surveys were developed by Panorama, which uses research-based methods to develop their questionnaires. All parents were notified about the surveys in advance and given an opportunity to review every survey question ahead of time. A number of community members shared their viewpoints about the surveys during last night’s meeting, both in favor and opposed.

One related note, because there is a lot of misinformation out there: Discussions of “equity” are not the same thing as Critical Race Theory, as one speaker incorrectly implied last night. Webster’s dictionary defines equity as fairness in the way people are treated. Equity is a longstanding goal of the district, and a widespread value in the community. It’s identified in the country’s Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”) and the Pledge of Allegiance (“with liberty and justice for all”). Critical Race Theory is a much more specific and complicated set of ideas that is not taught in the East Penn Schools. For more on this, please see my recent post “The Critical Race Theory Canard.”

New High School Courses

The administration proposed two new courses for the high school beginning next year. The first is a lifeguarding course that would be an alternative to the current sophomore aquatics requirement for those students who are interested and meet the American Red Cross qualifications. The course would use the same curriculum as the Red Cross, and students would leave the course with professional certification in lifeguarding, CPR, and first aid.

The second course is an elective for juniors and seniors on positive well-being. The curriculum will focus on the science of happiness, nutrition, mindfulness and stress management, and how to maintain meaningful human relationships. The course will be offered by the Family and Consumer Science (FCS) department.

The teachers proposing these courses, as well as members of the board, were enthusiastic about both new course offerings.

Board President Bacher Resigns

Dr. Ken Bacher, the current board president, announced at the end of the meeting that he would be resigning from the board at the end of November. He did not offer any public statement about his resignation. The next meeting– November 8th– will be his last, and will also be the time the board discusses the process for appointing a replacement to fill out the remainder of his term. Dr. Bacher was one of the people who encouraged me to serve on the board more than eight years ago, and he has been an excellent colleague and steady leader these past years. He has done a great deal for our district and will certainly be missed.

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