Yesterday in Charleston South Carolina, nine people who gathered in a church for a bible study were gunned down by a man who did not know them but who hated them because they were black.
I can't fathom hate like that.
Intellectually I know it exists.
Emotionally it is beyond what I can comprehend.
In Novi our work rests on two pillars. All of what we do - our work in curriculum, assessment, evaluation, instruction, and student growth is built on helping our students learn to write and to understand social justice.
Writing is an easy pillar to explain. If students can write, and write well, it means that they can think, that they can examine ideas, that they can reason, that they can communicate. Writing supports students as they learn math and science and social studies. Being a writer prepares students to enter into the conversations that they will have in the board room and the break room and the shop floor and the family room. Writing makes sense for a school district.
Social justice. This pillar is harder to explain to people. People push back against social justice. People suggest to me that this is not what the district needs to focus on. Social justice is too political they say. Social justice draws attention away from the important work that we must do in helping students learn the curriculum. Social justice is not a priority.
I don't care how smart a person is if that person cannot understand another person's point of view.
I don't care how smart a person is if that person is unwilling to reflect on the social and economic inequities that our country faces.
I don't care how smart a person is if that person does not want to hear another person's voice.
Smart is not the most important attribute we give our kids.
It is important - don't get me wrong.
And our district does a very good job of helping our students learn. Our district goals focus on our ability to move students forward, to prepare them intellectually for that next step in their life.
But "smart" is not the only thing that matters.
Compassion, understanding, the ability to see another person for who they are. The willingness to listen. The desire to work with, be with, live with, build with other people.
These attributes are just as important as "smart."
These are social justice attributes.
And in Novi I am committed to helping our students learn these lessons as well.
I want our students to learn these lessons so that we will not continue to close our eyes to the hatred that exists around us. I want our students to learn the lessons of social justice so that we can open our eyes and the eyes of others to the beauty of each and every life.