Suggested Reading List "Talking to Your Kids About Racism and Justice"

Suggested Reading List "Talking to Your Kids About Racism and Justice"

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Candy Urbanski started this petition to Ringwood School District Board of Education

On July 20, 2020, Mr. Eric Erler, the principal of Ringwood’s Martin J. Ryerson Middle School, sent a normal summer update to parents. It included the 2020-2021 supply list and a reminder about the summer reading program with links to age and grade appropriate readings. This year, the reading list included an additional link specifically to books and resources for parents who were moved to talk to their children about racism. This link contained general resources about racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and police reform. As a parent, I was pleased the school system was willing to talk about such important current events and to help parents guide valuable conversations around these topics with our children, the future of this country.  

On July 28, during the recorded Zoom meeting, the superintendent of Ringwood schools, Dr. Nicholas Bernice, was met with great resistance by several members of the Board of Education. These Board members referred to the list as politically fueled and insinuated that the principal and superintendent both had a political agenda to deploy. One specific Board member was particularly upset with the references to the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality. When Dr. Bernice was questioned about the reason for this suggested list of titles, he was clear in saying that he was trying to educate children on current events to help make them “global citizens.” Unfortunately, some of the Board members did not understand what this meant and continued to support racial inequality is an opinion, not an absolute.     

This outdated thinking must be stopped. The subject of race, inequality and oppression must be met head on and we must educate our children accordingly. The list of titles and resources support the current environment about racism that is still alive and well in our country. It’s time to teach the next generation about love, compassion, tolerance and acceptance regardless of race, religion, sex and sexual preference. It’s our opportunity to embrace the moment and turn it into real change.  

The suggested resource link has been taken down. Dr. Bernice was clear he would reevaluate the list and if he found the list appropriate in educating today’s youth, he would repost it to the Ringwood School’s website. He reiterated his mission of creating “Global Citizens.”  

Please join me in supporting Dr. Bernice’s mission and telling these members of the school board there is another group of parents and residents who disapprove of this outdated thinking that creates further oppression and division in our small town. We want the list back up on the Ringwood School’s website and more programming and education throughout the school year that will create a platform for anti racist behavior and equal rights for all.  

This is not just a local issue but one that is plaguing our Nation.  Please act now.  

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