After reading the previous letter from Mr. Mooday, it became clear to me that there is a fundamental misunderstanding with what some people think is being discussed. The general theme of his response seemed to follow the idea that safe spaces are bad or produce weak results. What he refers to as safe spaces, I refer to as a promotion of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Studies have shown that promoting SEL in K-12 increases academic success. The discussions between Melanie Colgan, Erin Green, and I about making the schools a place where children are comfortable and safe, do not refer to removing challenges, but rather removing the mindset that their challenges make them lesser. Some children may have a harder time learning a subject, and that is ok. We are not arguing that they do not need to learn it.
I am drawn to his quote that states “No player learns to catch or hit if you always throw softly”. This highlights the disconnect because we are not discussing removing obstacles. To use his baseball analogy, if they are missing the ball, it’s ok to coach them and they may need to hit the batting cage more often than their teammates, but they should know they are still a valued member of the team. In his letter he also states “Outstanding academic performance for all students, regardless of track, should be the primary goal of the school system. Mental health and socio-emotional safety are primarily the realm of parents who are working to raise their children.” These two sentences immediately caught my attention on my first reading. There is a reason socio-emotional wellness has been on the forefront of learning models lately, and that is because it has been shown to be an effective way of improving learning and academic performance. Therefore, if “…academic performance for all students, regardless of track, should be the primary goal of the school system”, then it stands to reason that the school should be invested in promoting the mental wellbeing of the students. Furthermore, relying on the mental and socio-emotional safety to be maintained primarily by the parents is a stance that seems to ignore that more than half of the child’s day is not in the parent’s care, but in an environment the parents have entrusted their child’s safety to. In this instance I’m referring to physical, emotional, mental, and social safety. There is also a strong argument to be made that historically underserved children without a safety net will only serve to perpetuate the performance gaps.
I’ve found that more often than not the disagreements come from a basic misunderstanding on what is meant. Please consider revising your outlook on the definition of safety as it is discussed in this context, or perhaps ask for clarification. To end with another baseball example, I have no problem with my son needing to practice his fielding, but I have a huge problem with the coach or other players saying he’s a terrible player. One is a challenge, the other is needlessly cruel.
Antonio R. Jaurigue
School Board Candidate for District 2