NSBORO News ~ January/February
NSBORO News - January/February 2021
Table of Contents:
  • Superintendent's Update - How do we disagree productively and find common ground?
  • Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Information
  • Black History Month - Margaret A. Neary Elementary School Highlight
  • Teaching Your Child About Black History, by Nefertiti Austin 
  • Coalition for Equity Update: Focus - Short-Term Study Group for Mascot Review
  • Harbinger Highlights - Algonquin Regional High School Student Newspaper
  • COVID-19 Weekly Dashboard
Superintendent's Update
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say "It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem." Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”  

Fred Rogers

How do we disagree productively and find common ground? How do we teach our students the skills of debate? 

Through the process of authorizing the District’s Strategic Plan, Vision 2026, the District developed a Vision: Profile of a Graduate. I’d like to begin by referencing the six attributes (See table A), as well as several (but not all) bullets that resonated with me as I listened to Julia Dhar’s TedTalk, How to disagree productively and find common ground.   
Ms. Dhar’s life’s mission is to help people disagree productively and to help people find common ground, “To find ways to bring truth to light, to bring new ideas to life.” She shares her passion for debate and the simple concept that one group of people speaks in favor of an idea and one against. As Ms. Dhar honed her skills of debate it was not until she began coaching debators that she began to deeply understand that the most impactful debaters are those who reach people by finding “common ground.”  She shares that they are able to “separate ideas from identity” and are “genuinely open to persuasion.”  

Ms. Dhar frames debate simply as a way to organize conversations about “how the world is, could, or should be.” Through studying and coaching debate, her thinking that great debaters are “really excellent persuaders” and that “they must have some magical ability to make the polarizing palatable” evolved. She came to realize that impactful debators identify the common ground that people can all agree on and begin from there. For example, “The right to an education, equality between all people, the importance of safer communities.” She continued to explain that the skill they use is inviting “others into what psychologists call shared reality.” She explains that “the shared reality is the antidote to alternative facts.”
Mrs. Dhar encourages people to “step away from the keyboards and start conversing. Professor Juliana Schroeder at UC Berkeley and her colleagues’ research suggests that listening to someone's voice as they make a controversial argument is humanizing. Once one can separate ideas from “identity” it is possible to find common ground. That is when one is able to “debate ideas” not “identity” and be open to the possibility that “we might be wrong” or what she labels, “The humility of uncertainty.” Neuroscientist and psychologist Mark Leary at Duke University and his colleagues have found that people who practice the skill of “intellectual humility” are “more capable of evaluating a broad range of evidence, are more objective when they do so and become less defensive when confronted with conflicting evidence.” 

Ms. Dahl concludes her talk with “There is so much that the practice of debate has to offer us for how to disagree productively. And we should bring it to our workplaces, our conferences, our city council meetings. And the principles of the debate can transform the way that we talk to one another, empower us to stop talking and start listening. To stop dismissing and to start persuading. To stop shutting down and to start opening our minds.” 

I would add our schools to her list. Our students need many, many opportunities to learn about and practice the skills of debate. It is an essential skill in order for the District's Vision: Profile of a graduate to be brought to fruition. If you have ten minutes to spare, please listen to Ms. Dhar’s Tedtalk.

Respectfully,

Gregory L. Martineau
Superintendent of Schools
Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Update and Information
As The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough, in collaboration with the school committees and the Northborough and Southborough town administrators work toward finalized budgets, I want to provide the communities with current information. Please visit the link below to find the key budget documents.

2021 Black History Month
Margaret A. Neary Elementary School’s Black history mural is complete! Many students participated in coloring one square of the mural featuring prominent historical Americans which now hangs in Neary's student dining room. #teamNeary

 
Originally Published on February 15, 2018

By kindergarten, most children have heard of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They are taught that he, like Mahatma Gandhi, was an advocate for peace and equality.

However, consider going beyond Dr. King. For example, teach your child about Rosa Parks, the seamstress and civil rights activist whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her small act of nonviolent resistance helped to forge the way for transportation desegregation across the nation.

Her story is part of our shared American history. Instead of shying away from hard truths, parents can explain that a long time ago, people were separated by the color of their skin. Some people did not think that was fair, and men and women of all races united to make a change. This is a straight-forward example that teaches empathy, cooperation and the commonality of a shared goal. It is also a way to teach children how to connect their personal experiences with the larger world.

Television programming can also offer children windows into worlds outside their own. PBS Learning Media has a great lineup of short history lessons featuring former slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth, scholar Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, and others.

In an article for PBS, children’s book author Cheryl Willis Hudson offered these and other suggestions to help you connect your kids with Black history:

  • Buy a book by a Black author or illustrator and make it a part of your child’s permanent collection. Books offer a fun and easy way to introduce your children to new cultures and to help them explore the experiences of people from different backgrounds.
  • Look for books that are inclusive and reflect the diversity of our communities. Books help illustrate that diversity is a natural part of everyday life.
  • When and if children ask questions about race, don’t sweep differences under the rug.
  • Give children simple, concrete explanations when they have questions. Select books that affirm a valued place for all children. Try to find books that will help prepare children for the complex world in which they live.
  • Make sure your selections include contemporary stories. Celebrate Black culture and experiences, in addition to history, through picture books, chapter books, and poetry.
  • Seek the suggestions and guidance from knowledgeable cultural experts, booksellers and librarians. Coretta Scott King Award-winning titles are always a good place to start for excellence in text and illustrations.

For parents of mixed race or transracially adopted children, you must do your homework. You are your child’s first teacher, so educate yourself about your child’s cultural history. Stoke your child’s curiosity about their place in the world and their ancestor’s role in the establishment of this country. Young children believe what their parents tell them, so take advantage of their eagerness to learn and show them how to appreciate differences. While you have their undivided attention, introduce your budding train conductor to Engineer Elijah McCoy, inventor of an oil lubricant for steam engines for locomotives and ships, and aviator Bessie Coleman, the first African American civilian issued a pilot’s license.

There are so many notable Americans to learn about. Beyond the internet, don’t forget my favorite resource: the public library. During themed months (like Women’s History Month or Asian American Heritage Month), most local libraries display related picture books. They may also schedule read-alouds about different cultures and offer scheduled lecture series for parents or activities for children.

In the end, people are more alike than different. And if children learn this simple truth early, the world will be the safe and interesting place that Dr. King dreamt about.
Coalition for Equity Update
The Coalition for Equity held its third meeting on Thursday, February 11, 2021. The Coalition has organized into four working groups, providing an opportunity to maximize Coalition member's expertise and talents. The four groups are:

  • Community Partnerships: Identify community-based partnerships and leverage community expertise to inform the District’s decision-making and foster full and equitable participation.  

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Identify teacher tools and processes to evaluate instructional resources, materials, and strategies that incorporate diverse perspectives that develop deeper racial and socioeconomic awareness.

  • Policies, Handbooks, Procedures & Practices: Examine District and school policies, handbooks, procedures, and practices through the lens of equity.


In this edition of NSBORO News, I’d like to highlight the work of the Short-Term Study Group for Mascot Review.

Study Group for Mascot Review Holds Its Third Meeting

Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) Principal Sean Bevan continues to lead the Study Group for Mascot Review, which consists of stakeholders who are working together to examine the ARHS mascot, the tomahawk. The Group’s charge is to develop a recommendation for the Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee about whether the mascot should be changed and, if so, what the timeline and costs of that change may be. The Group’s work complements the ongoing work of The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough’s Coalition for Equity, and several members of the Study Group participate in both groups. 

On February 10, 2021, the Study Group held its third meeting, and focused on:  

  • Determining the impact of Native American mascots, both on Native American and non-Native American peoples in order to understand the specific impact of our school’s symbol, the tomahawk
  • Discussing Native American perspectives on the topic and identify implications of these perspectives on our mascot choice

The agenda for the February 10, 2021, meeting is here. As Principal Bevan
facilitates the Mascot Review Study Group’s work, he will keep community members informed in a variety of ways, including sharing updates on the following: a dedicated web page, the school’s social media accounts (Instagram and Twitter), and through community emails. If you would like to share your thoughts and perspectives - now or at any point during the period of the Study Group’s work - please email MascotStudyGroup@nsboro.k12.ma.us, and your feedback will be noted for the Study Group. 
The Harbinger
Algonqiun Regional High School Student Newspaper

Tisya Singh, Assistant News Editor
February 12, 2021

Olivia Kardos, Joe Lamburn, and Priya Maraliga
February 7, 2021

Tony Bianchi, Staff Writer
February 6, 2021
COVID-19 Weekly Dashboard
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School Safety
K-12 Curriculum
School Committee Information
Calendar (2021-2022)
District Policies,
Procedures,
and Notices

  • Annual Notice Regarding Website Accessibility
  • Asbestos Policy
  • Free and Reduced Meals Information
  • Non-Discrimination Notice
  • Notice of Destruction of Student Records
  • Parents' Right to Know
  • Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) Notice
  • Rights Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
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  • Rights
Transportation Information

The safe transportation of students to and from school is a critical part of The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough's operation.

For more information, please visit the District's Transportation Webpage
Food Services Information
The District is encouraging families to participate in the food services programs as the meals are free of charge until June 30, 2021. The USDA has extended a waiver to schools to give access to food during the pandemic.

If you have any questions, please email Keith Lavoie, Director of Operations, for support (klavoie@nsboro.k12.ma.us).
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