Board of Education aims to promote equity within the district

The+Board+of+Education+is+focusing+on+educating+its+staff+members+and+students+on+implicit+bias+and+ensuring+that+every+student+is+treated+equally.+Administrators%2C+supervisors%2C+and+teachers+will+be+sent+to+a+variety+of+programs%2C+including+a+presentation+by+the+Anti-Defamation+League+called+%E2%80%9CEchoes+and+Reflections%E2%80%9D+on+Oct.+14.

Matt Austin

The Board of Education is focusing on educating its staff members and students on implicit bias and ensuring that every student is treated equally. Administrators, supervisors, and teachers will be sent to a variety of programs, including a presentation by the Anti-Defamation League called “Echoes and Reflections” on Oct. 14.

Rachel Cohen, Editor in Chief

The Board of Education is focusing on educating its staff members and students on implicit bias to ensure that every student is treated in an “equitable fashion” this school year and the years following, according to Superintendent Erik Gundersen. 

 “We want to make sure students feel equally welcomed to be a part of the Pascack Valley family,” Gundersen said. “We need to address the individual history, background, and cultures of each student and get to know them a little more and what concerns them.”

Administrators, supervisors, and teachers will be attending a variety of programs, including a presentation by the Anti-Defamation League called “Echoes and Reflections” on Oct. 14 during professional development day. The program is dedicated to reshaping the way that teachers and students understand, process, and navigate the world through the events of the Holocaust, according to the district Director of Curriculum Barry Bachenheimer. 

Educating teachers, and by connection, their students, about its significance is a great responsibility,” Bachenheimer said. “This course teaches the complex themes of the Holocaust and to help understand its lasting effect on the world.”

During the statewide “Week of Respect” in October, all students in the district will participate in a writing prompt in their English classes to assess inclusivity. Gundersen said the BOE hopes to further teach the district on how to become more culturally equitable regarding classroom practices and school culture.

“Students should feel a connection to the curriculum without really thinking about it with something that’s reflective of their history, their culture, and their background,” Gundersen said. 

Gundersen said the incidents of anti-Semitic defacements found in 2018 on Sept. 27 in the second-floor boys bathroom and on Oct. 18 in the boys cafeteria bathroom at PV,  and on Nov. 30 in a boys bathroom at Pascack Hills, made the administration “look at what the culture is like here” and “see how truly inclusive the district is with students from all different backgrounds.” Last spring, the district sent a School Climate Survey to students within PV and PH to analyze the educational climate. 

It has made us think about what we can do to get better,” Gundersen said. “This is about how we are talking to each other, how students talk to each other in the hallways, if we are accepting of one another, and if we are respectful of each other’s cultural differences.”