"Students returned to school in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville and the President's unbelievable failure to clearly condemn the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis responsible for the violence there. This is the quintessential teachable moment," said City Attorney Mike Feuer. "I addressed the LAUSD Board today to highlight the pivotal role our schools can play in fostering meaningful discussion, by kids at every grade level, about the fragility of our democracy, the power of civic engagement, the significance of free expression, and the importance of mutual respect and understanding among people of diverse backgrounds. I look forward to being part of these important conversations."
Board Member Nick Melvoin joined Board President Ref Rodriguez in inviting Feuer to speak in front of the Board today. Melvoin and Feuer had spoken last week about ways the District and the City Attorney’s office could partner in helping students heal and learn from the recent acts of hate.
“There is more that unites us than divides us,” said Melvoin, “and I think we have seen a more powerful reaction than the initial action, which reminds us that out of the darkest times comes the brightest light.” He gave an example of the powerful positive reaction at Taft High School, where one hallway was covered in posters promoting love and unity of all people, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.
Melvoin has worked with the Shoah Foundation, which records the lives and experiences of Holocaust survivors and witnesses to memorialize their compelling voices for education and action, as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which seeks justice for the most vulnerable members of society by fighting hate and bigotry through litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy.
Feuer expounded on two different models for consciously engaging students of all ages to affirm humanity and grapple with the darkest consequences of free expression. One focused on a more preventative, hypothetical approach in the form of community circles, and the other concentrated on in-depth discussion as a swift response to campus incidents.
Melvoin said he was particularly moved as Feuer spoke venerably of his late father, who fought the Nazis in World War II and became a prisoner of war before committing his life to public education.
LAUSD is encouraging schools to take action in response to violence and hate crimes. In addition to the “We Are One L.A. Unified” Program, which provides newcomers and immigrant families with resources and support, the District remains committed to promoting an environment of inclusion free from discrimination or intolerance.
Further resources for educators and parents can be found at the Student Health and Human Services Section of the LAUSD (https://achieve.lausd.net/Page/631), as well as the Anti-Defamation League Website (https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources) and searching Twitter using the hashtag #CharlottesvilleCurriculum, shared by Educators 4 Excellence.
Nick Melvoin is proud to serve the dynamic communities of District 4 on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Nick’s election to the Board in May of 2017 follows a career fighting for our city’s schoolchildren. He believes that together, with the right leadership, we can ensure that every student in Los Angeles has the opportunity to succeed. Los Angeles Unified Board District 4 includes the communities of Brentwood, Del Rey, East Hollywood, Encino, Hollywood, Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Playa Del Rey, Playa Vista, Tarzana, Topanga, Westchester, West Hollywood, Westwood, Woodland Hills & Venice.
If you would like more information about this topic, please call Ally Salvaria at 213-241-4259, or email at Allison.Salvaria@LAUSD.net.