BOARD INSIGHTS: Educational Equity and Excellence – Both Policy and Belief System

Recent events remind us of PCSD’s commitment to deliver and preserve the physical, emotional, and psychological safety of all our students. This is, and must remain, a priority throughout our District and across our broader Pittsford community. The commitment may begin in the home, but it stretches deeply into our schools, neighborhoods, and places of social gathering – including online communities.

In our governance role as your Board of Education, one of our primary duties is to serve as the District’s lead policy-making body. We do not draft all policies that guide District operations, but we are charged with their review and approval – and that they serve the best interests of our students.

Among the District’s most significant and impactful policies is our Educational Equity and Excellence Policy (policy #3422). While its tenets have long been embedded in our District’s values, mission, and vision, it was only recently codified into our formal Policy portfolio (April 7, 2021).

The entire policy statement deserves review and consideration. But please draw your attention to the Beliefs section, for it is there that we provide the detail that drives both the policy statement and District practices. As you read through these Beliefs – broken down by Student; Schools, Family and Community; and Systems – we ask you to take personal ownership of them by inserting the words “I believe” before each numbered statement, for example:

I believe…Every student has the right to an equitable educational experience…

I believe…All students, staff, parents/guardians, and community members must work together…

I believe… Our school climate must encourage each student’s sense of belonging…

It is not enough for the District alone to believe these statements. Nor is it enough for students and families alone to believe them. If we are to be #OnePittsford, these same beliefs must also weave deeply into the very fabric of our hearts, our neighborhoods, and our communities.

Equity is not the same as equality; each student, each teacher, and each family has needs that are unique to them. Equity is about acknowledging and respecting those needs and behaving in a way that demonstrates your support of the individuals who possess them.

As a District, and as a Board of Education, we appreciate the awesome responsibility we share in the development of every student who enters our school buildings. Joining us are you – families, friends, neighbors, and members of the Pittsford community. Together, we share the promise of ensuring our students’ physical, emotional, and psychological safety. And we must hold ourselves accountable when we fall short.

Although some of the recent incidents occurred outside of our schools – and as a result, outside of the District’s immediate control – we recognize the impact these acts have on our students and families. Through active listening at recent community circles, we were reminded of the very real pain and trauma kids and families are feeling. We’re grateful to all who attended and who both shared their stories and offered constructive recommendations for a path forward.

We acknowledge how difficult this may have been for you. No words here will ever accurately capture the pain you experienced as you relayed your stories to us and to other community members around the table. We’re grateful to those who joined this recent event, and to those who engage with us at future conversations. Only through open and honest exchange will we continue to make strides in our mutual pursuit of equity and respect for all.

Finally, please know that our code of conduct, equity policy, and core values outline the structures, behaviors, and protocols that we expect from our students and families – and that our students and families expect of their school District.  We encourage all PCSD stakeholders – students, families, staff, administrators, Board, and our entire community – to review our policies in light of recent events, and as we continue along in the 2021-2022 school year.

Please consider our Educational Equity and Excellence Policy as a good place to start.

- Pittsford Central School District Board of Education