19 Aug 2020 History provides vital lessons
by Jessica Duff
“Equity and excellence” is more than just a motto at the Pulaski County Special School District; it’s something every student and staff member strives for every day within the district. Dr. Charles McNulty, superintendent of schools, introduced this phrase when he was hired as superintendent in July 2018. Nearly two years later, we see evidence of equity and excellence across the district; however, we know there is room for improvement.
PCSSD teachers are encouraged to model equity and excellence in their classroom every day, not just in educational opportunities but in smaller ways, too. Our teachers strive to give students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Teaching these skills and understanding that every child deserves equitable access to education and opportunities is paramount in PCSSD. Every child should enter the classroom knowing that they are equal, and they should have that same feeling when they leave school and engage in the “real world.”
Students at PCSSD master traditional educational pillars of reading and writing as well as the critical thinking skills incorporated with mathematics and science curriculum. However, when it comes to history, there is a lot of speculation about what is taught and what has been left out of the history books. History provides very important lessons to our children.
In his 1905 book “The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense,” influential philosopher George Santayana stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is why it is imperative for students in all grade levels to learn history – the history of our community, state, country and world.
When it comes to understanding history in the United States and, specifically, history right here in Arkansas, it is imperative to have a thorough understanding of what that history truly means for everyone. Students must not only learn the history taught in schools, they must learn their own history and their neighbor’s history. We all have stories to tell and experiences that differ from one another and we must teach our children how to understand and appreciate each other and our differences. We must teach our children compassion and kindness.
History should be appreciated – appreciated for the societal growth that generations before us have pioneered and appreciated for the growth we will continue to see in our generation and generations to come. History is about learning where we have been and where we want to be. History is about learning different perspectives and perceptions of historical events. History is about recognizing we are not perfect, but we all do the best we can to achieve excellence – and learn from our mistakes when we fall short.
Earlier this summer, Dr. McNulty released a statement after the brutal murder of George Floyd. In his statement, he addressed the need to stand proudly with all community members seeking justice for themselves, their families, their communities and ultimately, all of us.
“We must act now to uplift the better nature in all of us. Public schools are key to unleashing that better nature and attaining the promise of democracy,” McNulty stated. “PCSSD has a remarkable staff committed to equity and excellence and it is an honor to work with them.”
PCSSD continues to work hard to ensure gaps in some of our communities’ infrastructures that impact educational access will be alleviated by the start of school. PCSSD will continue with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) across our district to ensure our schools’ culture uplifts all students. We will continue to ensure that we have leaders in our schools and at the district level who represent our students, families and communities with equity and excellence. We will work with our stakeholders to provide our students with a culturally relevant and rigorous curriculum that prepares them for the world today and the world of tomorrow.
“I can speak resolutely that we will work passionately to meet the needs of all students to have an educational organization that promotes justice,” McNulty added in his statement. “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, ‘Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.’”
At Pulaski County Special School District, we are committed to providing our students with the best education possible. We constantly evolve and change to ensure equity amongst our students and not only expect excellence from them but provide them the tools to expect excellence from themselves.
Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 square miles in Central Arkansas and requires highly skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 25 schools. Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July 1927.
PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders.