To the Editor:
I am writing to express my strong support for the DeKalb School District 428 Board'’s approval of the recently completed Diversity Study and attendant recommendations. I have lived in DeKalb since 1975 and have watched as our school district and community have become steadily more diverse. Diversity in DeKalb is an ongoing reality and one that our community, and its pillar institutions, must embrace.
The current diversity study is accurate in its findings in terms of the difficulties children, adolescents and their families have in being accepted in our community.
This information is not new or startling, as it is very similar to findings in prior diversity studies and assessments conducted by D-428.
In each of those circumstances, district staff and board members took steps to make tactical changes aimed at bettering given situations. Efforts to offer sensitivity training, professional development in multicultural awareness, modify curriculum and broaden hiring practices were undertaken in good faith. Unfortunately, there was no long-term commitment to those initiatives and they withered on the vine of habituated practices.
The D-428 board now faces similar suggestions, but the climate in DeKalb is much different than it was in the 1990s or early 2000s.
D-428 now faces the reality that about 50 percent of its students are nonwhite. Variance in language groups and ongoing issues of poverty within the community also exert a tremendous effect upon what is learned by students every day our school district is open.
The reality faced across our nation that it will not continue to be what it once was is painful for some to accept. But, DeKalb is not, and never will be the city it was before 1990, and that is a good thing. The time has come to embrace and support in an ongoing and strategic manner the deep value of diversity.
Each child deserves to work with teachers and staff who represent their background. Each child should come to school knowing they are valued for who they are. Each child is a treasure whose inner traits must be treated with compassion by the adults we entrust their education to.
As a community member, I enjoin the D-428 board to embrace diversity and support it as a vital component of our school system and the broader community. A vote to support the Diversity Plan is a compassionate step in the direction of making D-428 a place where all of our students are treated with kindness, tolerance and respect.
Greg M. Romaneck