Open Letter to Scarsdale's Learning Community from the Coalition for Scarsdale Schools

coalitionAugust 13, 2020
Open Letter to Scarsdale’s Learning Community:

We, the undersigned Scarsdale residents, wish to make clear that we support, admire and respect Scarsdale’s renowned faculty and staff for their professionalism and dedication to our community’s children. When we say that we moved here for Scarsdale’s schools, we essentially mean that we moved here for Scarsdale’s teachers. We know that the greatest strength of our school system is the opportunity our students have to connect to their teachers, who are trained and caring adults and take the time and interest to know and instruct so many young people at every stage.

We are heartsick that the Scarsdale Teachers Association leadership determined it necessary to express its concerns about teaching here and feelings of not being appreciated or valued. Without our teachers, our children could not reach their potential, and we are grateful for this partnership that helps produce leaders, thinkers, artists, scientists, humanitarians and future teachers, too. We want Scarsdale teachers to know that we believe you and your fellow teachers are the backbone of society.

We are all in this together.

Scarsdale has one “industry” – together we grow children, hopefully into thriving, compassionate global citizens who will contribute to society in the non sibi tradition of our schools. This pandemic has challenged every aspect of this work, and we value the efforts of Scarsdale’s teachers to be our partners, pivoting through this pandemic for the benefit of the children. We feel that cannot be stated enough – we are all in this together.

We understand that tensions are very high during this scary pandemic, and that our District is not alone in the struggles to plan and prepare as this situation has extended and morphed in unimaginable ways.

We recommend the following community-wide assumptions and pledges to help facilitate improved dialogue and compromise for everyone in the critical days ahead, and going forward–

1) We will speak respectfully to and about each other, assuming all stakeholders want good educational outcomes for all students and safety for teachers and students. We will be patient and kind, even when frustrated or advocating for a position.

2) We will seek to be constructive and accept some compromises, recognizing there are no perfect options.

3) We will follow the science, to the best of our collective ability.

4) We will hear concerns without becoming defensive, take responsibility for decisions and missteps, apologize when wrong, and adjust when priorities are not fully understood, when goals are not reached, or when reasonable concerns are not accommodated.

5) The District Administration will redouble its efforts to set the tone and create the environment for constructive stakeholder dialogue toward a broadly supported reopening plan. The District will share information with all stakeholders transparently and quickly, even in working formats. Answering parent and teacher questions should be a priority.

6) We will assume all plans are just that –plans. We will be flexible and willing to change quickly even if it is inconvenient. We recommend that the District redouble its efforts to have broadly supported contingency plans at the ready. We believe there could be a time for various iterations on our shared path to normalcy. Which path we take now should not preclude us from planning out for many options.

7) We recommend a focus on positive ideas, creative solutions and, as quickly as possible, specific plans for children’s learning outside of the classroom, respecting teachers’ need for autonomy while also addressing parents’ interest in a certain amount of consistency and quality. We will think out of the box, share inspirations and be the District of Yes, a beacon for thoughtful delivery of educational excellence regardless of the modality.

8) We will not confuse excellence with perfection, and will constantly evaluate and reflect on ways to improve our communications, plans, and approaches to children’s learning and well-being in these unprecedented times.

We urge the District to renew stakeholder dialogue and reimagine exchanges with respect to the concerns expressed by STA leadership, and the concerns of parents, in an effort to develop (as quickly as possible) a plan for the start of the school year that has broader support from the various stakeholders, including our valued teachers, parents, and students too.

We welcome community members to sign on, please use this link

To see the full list of names who have signed on in real time, see the letter in the link above. The list below is in formation as of August 14 2020 at 8:30 am.

Respectfully submitted,

Diane Greenwald, Co-Chair CSS
Arthur Rublin, Co-Chair CSS
Alissa Baum
Lauren Bender
Nisreen Bhora
Liz Brew
Vanessa Brosgol
Joy Brownstein
Sheela Chari
Todd Cohen
Jordan Copeland
Lisa Copeland
Scott Coplan
Susi Coplan
Fernanda Couto
Beth Cukier
Jeffrey Dallal
Susan Douglass
Jim Dugan
Melissa Eisenberg
Nicolas Friedman
Sara Friedman
Karin Garvey
Beth Gelles
Anthony Gibney
Rebecca Goldman
Katy Goldman
Amy Goldstein
Deborah Gorrin
Marc Greenwald
Doron Gutstadt
Sharon Gutstadt
Jenna Handel
Claire He
Dan Hochvert
Janet Horn
Albina Hussain
Riaz Jivraj
Anna Karpman
Olivia and Seuk Khang
Rebecca Kinoshita
Wendy Kleinman
Stefanie Koch
Jocelyn Koenig
Rachel Krisbergh
Amy Laartz
David S. Lee
Jonathan Lemle
Joele Levenson
Amy Lewis
Michelle Lichtenberg
Laura Liu
Elaine Mattioli
Eli Mattioli
Larry Medvinsky
Barry Meiselman
Arek Melemetci
Margot Milberg
Julie Miller
Stephanie Miller
Haicheng Ni
Beth Pass
Steve Pass
Molly Pease
McLean Pena
Richard Pinto
Sara Pinto
Ryan Purcell
Susan Quill
Debbie Rapaport
Rachel Rilander
Jen Rosen
Nicola Rosendorff
Susan Ross
Rohini Sahni
Shirley Salmeron Dugan
Brooke Sanders
Rachel Schmerin
Beatrice Sevcik Gibney
Lesley Shearer
Christine Sloben
Jill Spieler
Hope Stephens
Jon Ungar
Nicole Ungar
Susan Vibbert
Loretta Vickers
Abby Wallach
Jane Wang
Allison Weinberg
Marin Weinberg
Sharon Weinberg
Steven Weinberg
Jessica Weiss
Christine Weston
Melissa Wetzstein
David Wetzstein
Gabrielle Wise
Mauri Zemachson
Robert Zoland