Addressing the events of January 6, 2021
January 7, 2021
There are moments in our nation's history that are remembered long after they occur. Some are moments of great joy, while others reflect the challenges we face. Regardless of where you stand on the outcome of our recent presidential election, yesterday was a sad moment in our history. We know there is a divide in our nation, the outcome of our last two elections make that very clear. These differences understandably lead to protests. While peaceful protests, and the expression of our first amendment rights, are a great part of our nation's DNA, what we saw yesterday on Capitol Hill was not peaceful.
As our democratic process was taking place, one that is part of generations of orderly and peaceful transitions of power, the Capitol was stormed by those that disagreed with the election results and the process was temporarily halted.
As a man that has seen many elections and protests in my day, this was something new. I was left with an unfamiliar feeling. I was saddened, concerned, and to be honest, a bit scared by what I saw.
While I’m still trying to process the events, I’m proud that our elected officials, many of whom would have liked to see a different outcome in the election, returned to the Capitol, without delay, respected the process, and completed their duty.
If these events challenged the comprehension of someone with a fair amount of life experience, it must also be difficult for our students to comprehend. Fortunately, we have an incredibly skilled staff that has proven their ability to handle challenges head-on. As unfortunate as the events of yesterday were, they are a moment to teach, to discuss, to reflect on and to try and make sense.
The Educational Services staff have provided our teachers with some guidelines regarding how to address this topic in class today and in the future. They are not forcing our teachers to initiate a conversation, but, especially at the secondary level, students may ask questions, the topic may be a fit for the class, and respectful dialog is welcome.
In an effort to be transparent, I am sharing those guidelines with you, as we understand there are sensitivities surrounding these topics.
While our challenges are not all behind us, I’m still confident that 2021 will be a better year.
Daniel R. Moirao, Ed.D.
Dublin Unified School District
Capitol Events on January 6, 2021
Yesterday’s events at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. were alarming to all of us as American citizens. News images and political commentary may have been particularly frightening and disturbing to our students. While we expect that lessons will be delivered today as originally planned, we want you to be aware of Board Policy and Administrative Regulations regarding discussion of controversial topics. We have also provided you with talking points if students should raise the topic in your classes today.
- How to talk about controversial issues: BP 6144 and AR 6144
- The discussion must be suitable to the age and maturity of the students
- Address all sides of the issue
- Teachers are expected to exercise professional judgement
- Needs to be presented in a balanced manner without bias
- Teacher may not advocate their personal viewpoint
- Students should be reminded that they need to be courteous and respectful of others
- Adequate factual information should be presented to allow students to objectively analyze to draw their own conclusions (see below)
- Instruction shall not reflect adversely upon persons because of their race, ethnicity, religion or any other basis for discrimination
- Allow students to share conflicting viewpoints based on established facts
- Teacher can not use their position to forward their own political and social bias
- The teacher may express a personal opinion if he/she identifies it as such and does not express the opinion for the purpose of persuading students to his/her point of view.
- Discussion of the issue is instigated by the students or by the established curriculum, but not by a source outside of the schools.
Sample Norms for discussions:
- Respect differences of opinions and beliefs
- We can agree to disagree
- Listen with the intent to understand
- Commit to learning, not debating
- Avoid assumptions about others, especially about perceived social groups
Here are events that unfolded yesterday:
- Yesterday morning a group of citizens who were upset about the result of the November Presidential election held a rally in Washington, D.C.
- After the rally, many of them marched from the rally location to the Capitol building a few blocks away, where elected representatives from all the states were meeting to hear and accept the individual states' votes in the Presidential election
- Many people in the crowd did not follow the directions of the police who guard the Capitol building, and they pushed past them and broke doors and windows to get into the building
- Our Constitution protects the right of citizens to voice their disagreement with the government but that right does not protect or endorse violence or vandalism
- The people who pushed their way past the police and into the Capitol broke the law and can be prosecuted and punished for their acts
- Within a few hours of forcing their way into the Capitol, the intruders were all removed and the elected officials and others who work in the Capitol were able to return to their work
- Late last night our Congress certified the election results from all the individual states and confirmed that Joe Biden will become our next President
- In our democratic republic, the elected members of the House and Senate represent the people of their communities, and the appropriate way to affect their actions is to call or write their offices to let them know your opinion
- The United States of America has been a beacon of freedom and a model of democracy in our world for hundreds of years precisely because our elected officials are committed under the Constitution to a peaceful transfer of power to the person who wins the election
- Images on the news and on social media can be disturbing, and it is important to read and understand credible sources of information to stay informed
- It's natural to feel anxious or even afraid when watching events like what happened yesterday in Washington, D.C., so please reach out to a trusted adult or school counselor if you want to just talk about what you saw or heard