Q&A: A Discussion on Antisemitism
On Monday, October 30th, the Port Washington School District hosted a "Discussion on Antisemitism." After an important evening of large group and small group conversations, participants were able to submit questions or comments that they still had.
Q1: The prevalence of antisemitism on social media and on the news can normalize this damaging behavior. What instructional programs to educate students on the Holocaust and warn them of the dangers of perpetuating hate are offered in our district?
A1: Students engage in Holocaust instruction and meaningful dialogue throughout the social studies curriculum. In addition, a variety of programs are available at each level. The most current offerings are available on the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page available here or under the programs and services page on the district website. In addition to the existing programs, a number of new offerings are being scheduled as short-term solutions, with many of which becoming annual events as part of our long-term plan.
Q2: Is there currently or can we create a student group or task force to focus efforts on education and prevention of antisemitism in Port Washington?
A2: At Schreiber High School, we are working with the Anti-Defamation League to implement the A World of Difference peer training program to develop peer leaders who can promote a more positive and inclusive school culture.
Q3: What is the next step to keep the conversation going, and how can we include our children?
A3: Communication, Communication, Communication. The next step is to follow-up the “Discussion on Antisemitism” with emerging themes, outlining instructional programs happening in each of the buildings, and compiling this Q&A document.
Next, we are exploring programs to better engage the community in this important work. Through the Anti-Defamation League, we are scheduling an evening event called Engaging Young People in Difficult Conversations: A Workshop for Parents. This workshop aims to help parents and guardians to have age-appropriate current event conversations with their children at home. Date to be announced.
Q4: Does the school currently teach digital citizenship and can you share it? How do they learn about trusted sources for news and facts so they can learn not to trust everything on social media?
A4: Elementary: Students in grade 5 participate in the cyberSMARTZ™ program offered through Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS) and the Safe Center LI. This is a single session multi-media workshop for grade 5 students that focuses on cyberbullying and fostering safe, responsible behavior while managing the Internet and other digital technologies.
Additionally, elementary librarians teach units on digital citizenship and media literacy annually to students K-5.
Middle School: Digital citizenship is woven into health classes taken by all students in grade 6 and grade 7 and reinforced with those who take health in grade 8. Students also learn about digital citizenship during grade 6 core extension.
High School: Digital citizenship is woven into the health class taken by all students in grade 9. In addition, the social studies curriculum integrates media literacy skills, including the ability to access, analyze, and evaluate information in a variety of forms used to develop and support well-informed perspectives.
Q5: Naming antisemitism was an important first step. How can we expand the conversation to additional forms of discrimination?
A5: As a community, we must work collaboratively to eliminate all forms of discrimination and bias. In addition to the district's work with the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, we are also expanding our partnership with the Anti-Defamation League to combat racism through anti-bias training for students at multiple grade levels. We have also been in discussion with ERASE Racism to develop programs to support our efforts.
Furthermore, all secondary staff are participating in NYSUT Sticks and Stones: Understanding Implicit Bias and Stereotypes program on November 9 (this was planned over the summer). All elementary staff are scheduled for the workshop in December.