Letter to Parents Regarding Controversial Topics and Critical Thinking

  • Dear Parents and Guardians,

    Every day by our actions, our words, and our deeds, we are shaping the next generation of citizens. Our children and youth are influenced by parents and educators alike.  We take our role in this partnership incredibly seriously and with great care.  As a community of learners, educating students in critical thinking skills is the cornerstone of our work.

    According to dictionary.com, critical thinking is defined as:

    crit·i·cal think·ing

    noun

    1. the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

    A comprehensive education is one where controversial topics are responsibly explored.  To fully prepare the next generation of citizens and to equip our students with critical thinking skills, we will not avoid controversial topics.  Rather, we will strive to handle them with students in an age-appropriate manner and without inserting our personal opinions or biases.  Equally important is our responsibility to support students in studying historical and current events, researching and understanding different perspectives of complex issues, and allowing students to form their own opinions on contemporary issues.  This aligns with the New York State Social Studies expectations and learning standards.  For your reference, we have linked sources below.

    Whether studying an upcoming United States presidential election or other current events such as immigration or the Black Lives Matter movement, we believe our role is to guide students to see differing perspectives of complex and controversial issues.  It is not our role to impose our beliefs, opinions and viewpoints on students.  Masterful educators are facilitators of learning, not individuals who use their classroom as a platform of personal expression or opinions.  This is the expectation and standard set for our educators.

    We educate and prepare students for the future when they study, debate, and understand complex issues from all angles.  From this, students can then develop their own perspectives and arguments regarding issues as they grow into informed citizens and critical thinkers.  You can complement this by talking with your child(ren) about your viewpoints and perspectives on historical and current events.  We appreciate your partnership in developing the critical thinking skills of our youth.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Lisa Krueger, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
    Mr. Jonathan Wolf, OPHS Principal
    Mr. Aaron Grupka, OPMS Principal
    Ms. Sue Chudy, Social Studies Coordinator 
    Mr. Joshua Dannecker, OPHS Social Studies Instructional Leader
    Mr. Al Jafarjian, OPMS Social Studies Instructional Leader

     

    A link to the Introduction of the K-12 Social Studies Framework, which explains social studies practices and standards can be found here:
    http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/curriculum-instruction/ss-framework-k-12-intro.pdf

    The Kindergarten through 8th grade Social Studies Framework:
    http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/curriculum-instruction/ss-framework-k-8a2.pdf

    The grade 9-12 Social Studies Framework:
    http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/curriculum-instruction/ss-framework-9-12.pdf