Sharkey Named BOE Chair

Shannen Sharkey, center, was selected as the new chair of the Branford Board of Education. John Prins, right was selected as Vice Chair. 

A Message from the BOE/Superintendent of Schools:

In the wake of tragic national events and the subsequent protests against racism and for social justice, our attention as leaders, rightfully so, is focused on leading a complex school system towards a more just and inclusive tomorrow.  The Branford Public Schools district leadership team acknowledges that these events have impacted our community.  As a group that includes a mix of ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations, some of us directly experience what it is like to be “other” and to navigate institutional systems not designed to include us. We are committed to engaging in the ongoing dialogue about institutionalized racism and other oppressions beginning with resources on our website to allow our students and families resources to begin these conversations at home.

 For us to succeed in our mission to educate students, we must reaffirm our commitment to create schools where all children and adults feel safe and welcomed and know that they are seen and heard. We must strive toward the goal of educating all students with the tools needed to think, speak, and act as full and equal participants in our democracy and as global citizens.  To bring this vision to fruition, we will need to address the root causes of inequity, including but not limited to system racism, in order to create enduring change.

We have started this work.  BPS administrators, teachers, and coaches are developing a more inclusive English Language Arts curriculum that honors student voice and choice. Built around pedagogies that foster student agency, English classrooms feature reading lists that incorporate a range of black and brown authors, and we continue to add texts reflecting diverse voices every year.  BPS elementary and intermediate school libraries have been identified as “Rainbow Libraries” because of the access they provide students to LGBTQ+ texts.  BPS staff also received training in providing a safe and respectful school environment for transgender and gender nonconforming students. While not directly foregrounding equity, multiple professional learning sessions have incorporated issues of race and ethnicity. To support these efforts to better reflect the diversity of the school population, our district continues to explore ways to attract, recruit, and hire candidates of color for district employment.

While this work is ongoing, it is critical we do more. It is our moral imperative to create a district free of bias, discrimination, and identity-predictable outcomes and experiences. To do so, we will seek to learn about the experiences of students and adults in the Branford Public Schools who have felt “othered” and openly listen to their responses without defensiveness. By continuing to educate ourselves, the Board and the faculty around equity and the intersectionalities of race, class, and other identities, we become better leaders and teachers.  We will be thoughtful and inclusive when analyzing the impact of our policies and structures on different demographic groups and work to address the root causes of identity-based inequities. Through this process our curricular offerings and our pedagogies will grow to reflect all voices.

This work will not be easy.  It will take courage, and it will take time. But it must happen. As leaders of Branford Public Schools, we embrace the responsibility we have to ensure that our district does its part. If there is anything to be taken from this current moment, it is this: as a nation, we must be reflective and act in order to make lasting change. By doing so, “the more perfect society” our founders called for will become a reality.

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(18) comments

Guest

All White Crackers - they don't anything about the struggle.....they all need to be fired and replaced with people of color...anything less is unacceptable!!!

No Justice No Peace.

I.S.

Happy Hornet

I have to admit that this statement fell flat for me.

This testimony has been coming for awhile...

I have lived in Branford since 1983. I went through the school system and never had a teacher of color nor a full African American education. I got that later in college. However, despite some deep seeded racial issues, I enjoyed growing up in Branford overall. I played sports, broke a couple of high school records, worked for the town and even was an assistant coach for several years at Branford high school. Although I had a non traditional path in education after BHS, I eventually became a state certified teacher and a parent. I even attempted to get a teaching and head coach job in the Branford school system a few years ago, but to no avail despite being a finalist in both jobs and years of previous life experience. I won’t mention who I lost out to in both jobs but the pattern was the same. I spent many years working with the youth in this town and still do so today but now on a smaller scale. I chose to send my kids to magnet schools due to the lack of diversity in the Branford curriculum. Best decision I ever made for MY family. I ended up getting hired as a teacher in the city and I was hired without hesitation and based on reputation. I even became a successful head coach in multiple sports at schools in and out of the city. I used to be concerned with the fact that although Branford’s student population has become more diverse over the years, the staffing has not. However, I realized that if Branford wanted to be more diverse, they would have taken every opportunity to do so over the past few years. Basically, give qualified minority applicants a chance. Anyway, what I really want to say is that I am glad the Branford School System did not hire me. I love the fact that I am gaining experience in the city, the suburbs and even private school. Branford has a long way to go and I hope there is a quick path to diversity in future staffing of teachers. As for the town as a whole, I love raising my family here despite the fact that I know there are places of business here I will never go due to racism. Some of you that read this will immediately know who this is. Some of you are a witness to my testimony. Thanks to all those who have supported me and continue to do so. Branford is my hometown, despite its flaws, will always be.

Guest

oh...love hearing from a guilty white person (notice how they all work in the school system where they can never get fired) - and where racism is strong within the ranks....All white people must go in the teacher ranks and principal...all white teachers/admins/principals/super must be fired and replace with black people...(all the whites will of course agree with this or they are racists)

only way to redeem yourself is to:

1.) give your job over to a black lives matter associate.

2.) move to new haven into the projects

3.) give your money to BLM organization

4.) march every day to stand for BLM and against the crackers!

if you don't do this - you are a racist and your words above are meaningless.

Any less is proving your white privilege.

IS

Guest

This racist garbage is a good way to prove you are a nutcase.Let people make their own decisions concerning race.We really have to do the Civil War again.I haven't seen any slaves in Branford,have you?

Guest

Thank you for sharing that with us. I think I know you. I think you have coached my child. I will ask you next time I see you. Thanks again for sharing this truth with us.

Guest

More important,get rid of Common Core,the worst thing have seen in years,trying to drive these kids crazy?Parents speak up,your voice does count!

Guest

all white people must be fired and be replaced by blacks and hispanics....the whites of branford are racists!!!

Stand with BLM or you are a racist....to prove you are not a racist...you must leave your job/home and move to new haven and live in projects...this is only way you can redeem your racists ways. white privilege is real and you have wrong the black community...you whites must give way to the blacks.

I.S :)

Guest

Agree. However, this will never happen. Education has been corrupted by liberal anti-america teachers. Majority of teachers hate america and also want to keep kids down and not educate our kids. More work for teachers...I have never seen so many special needs teachers in my life. What a racket. How about hiring ex business people who have retired as teachers and start teaching common sense and sales/tech/manufacturing skills...enough with "feelings" and making sure everyone wins.

Sad for kids now - they are being dumb down by teachers who don't care about anything except for summer vacation. Liberals/Democrats have destroyed education.

Guest

I have a small, wry smile on my face. I so enjoy when people use generalizations and their prejudice shows. "A majority of teachers hate America"; how many teachers have you spoken with or to? Have you conducted polls, surveys, or are you simply spouting your thoughts and beliefs? Please, inform us how you have arrived at your conclusions. And for the record, have you been a teacher?

Guest

Having Hernandez as the point-person on this issue will be very problematic. There have been lots of things involving racism, bullying, etc. that he just hasn't handled the right way. He'll say one thing, then do another. Not sure why the BOE keeps supporting him.

Guest

Have we ever asked for a forensic audit on the school budget?It is after all 50% of the town budget,Hamlet is lauded every year for a 2% to 3% in increase,follow the money.

Guest

With Covid19 - Perfect Time for an Audit and to trim the fat of the Education Budget. Too much fat. Budget Goes up every year and we have less kids now.

Stop labeling every kid ADD and stop hiring worthless special ed teachers. This is crazy...every kid has ADD or something...ENOUGH! LET KIDS BE KIDS!

TRIM THE BUDGET AND GET RIDE OF 20% OF THE STAFF (STARTING WITH ANYONE MAKING OVER 100K - NO ONE SHOULD MAKE OVER 100K IN EDUCATION - THIS IS TAXPAYER MONEY - IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT - THEN GET A JOB IN THE REAL PRIVATE SECTOR.

Guest

I really don't believe it is the teachers,they have to follow the administration. Is it honest,I don't think so.

Guest

The teachers generally speaking are quite good.The district administration on the other hand is a running joke

Guest

Regarding diversity of color, to General Hernandez everything is all one color- GREEN

Guest

We ALL have rights. And thy should not be oppressed as they have. But the one thing that is not taught in our schools which is what we need more is LOVE. God is love and no longer present or mentioned in our school systems anymore. God bless America. God bless Branford. God bless You. God blesses ALL.

Guest

Its true that we all have right. But those serving under General Hernnadez just have less of them

Guest

"It is our moral imperative to create a district free of bias, discrimination" The "moral imperative" excuse which has been the basis for deciding what children will learn. Its been the leading theme of educators for the last 20 yrs, they are now embolden to use the term openly.

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