A Message From The Mountain Brook Board of Education:
July 8, 2021
The Mountain Brook Board of Education has heard a wide variety of questions and comments concerning the Mountain Brook Schools’ (“MBS”) efforts at implementing goal number four of its 2017 Strategic Plan which is to “develop structures to ensure that the school district honors diversity and that all who are associated with the school district are treated with respect.”
Recently, some have questioned whether MBS either intentionally or unintentionally aligned itself with a particular ideology in implementing baseline anti-bias training for our teachers, speculating that political viewpoints were being inculcated during the training.
Others have expressed concern with the discontinuation of the training from the original vendor in light of public opposition, speculating that the MBS commitment to pursuing respect for diversity had wavered.
Additionally, MBS alumni from across several decades have expressed the opinion that MBS did not provide them with a sufficient foundation to deal with an ever-changing and diverse world after they moved on from the Mountain Brook School System.
There are many other opinions and concerns across a wide spectrum of viewpoints that have been expressed as well.
We appreciate the concerns expressed by everyone - and can assure you that there has been careful deliberation of the conversations and comments.
With the variety of opinions we have heard, there have been some very consistent common threads. These include the desire for all students to be cared for and respected as individuals, for our students to be prepared for an ever-changing world, and that each household within MBS has a key role in nurturing the ideals of respect for others. We believe our collective common ground is a strong foundation to build upon as we continue to pursue strategic goal number four.
The Board remains united in our conviction that pursuing strategic goal number four is worthy and is an important component to providing an effective, challenging, and engaging education for every one of our students.
We believe Mountain Brook Schools are a microcosm of the world that we live in. While our administration and staff endeavor each and every day to make MBS warm and welcoming to all of our students, we are not immune to occasional harmful behaviors and influences that are inconsistent with respect for all people - and these behaviors do occur in our system as they do in every other school system.
Alongside parents, we must also help prepare our students to succeed in an ever-changing world.
Importantly, MBS and the Mountain Brook Board of Education will remain politically neutral in pursuing this strategic goal.
Moving forward, MBS will review resources that may be considered for continuing anti-bias training for teachers. The Board and the System will also take the training once a provider(s) is selected, in advance of rollout to teachers.
Additionally, MBS will engage with the Diversity Committee to ensure that a robust range of perspectives continues to be represented. If you have an interest in being part of the Diversity Committee, please email MBSDiversity@mtnbrook.k12.al.us. In addition, local school committees will be created and will meet this fall to plan activities for the upcoming school year.
We will work to ensure that as Mountain Brook Schools continues its strategic path, that the community’s input will be heard and respected. We believe together, we can achieve a structure for respecting students so that all can feel included in an environment conducive to learning and future success.
The purpose of Mountain Brook Schools is to provide an effective, challenging, and engaging education for every one of our students. We are focused on our purpose.
Why are diversity training (for teachers) and activities (for students) important in Mountain Brook Schools?
Mountain Brook Schools understands that value can be found in the appreciation of differences. Kindness, respect, and civil dialogue strengthen a school and community. Social issues do arise in MBS classrooms. MBS’ goal is to help students learn how to think and develop their own perspectives and opinions. In these situations, the role of the teacher is critical to developing a neutral environment where all opinions are valued. As leaders of students in classrooms, anti-bias training can improve teaching professionals' awareness of personal bias in their effort to provide a respectful and supportive academic environment.
Student activities developed by local school committees comprised of teachers, parents and age-appropriate students provide authentic learning experiences. These experiences help foster respect and understanding of differences within and outside our school community that will help prepare our students for future experiences.
What are the next steps of the MBS Diversity Committee?
MBS will engage with the Diversity Committee in an effort to ensure that a robust range of perspectives continues to be represented. If you have an interest in being part of the Diversity Committee, please email MBSDiversity@mtnbrook.k12.al.us. In addition, local school committees will be created and will meet this fall to plan activities for the upcoming school year.
Will employees complete anti-bias training?
Yes. Mountain Brook Schools intends to complete anti-bias training for remaining faculty and staff members. MBS will review resources that may be considered for continuing anti-bias training. The Board and the System will also take the training once a provider(s) is selected, in advance of rollout to teachers.
Will individuals other than school employees be provided an opportunity to review or participate in training?
Mountain Brook Schools is committed to providing an opportunity for non-employees to review chosen training materials. Plans are still being developed to provide this opportunity.
Will Mountain Brook Schools teach Critical Race Theory?
No. MBS has not adopted any curriculum outlining diversity topics that will be implemented in MB classrooms, including Critical Race Theory. Also, MBS has not adopted any books in response to the diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Will Mountain Brook Schools implement the “No Place For Hate” program in MBS?
No. MBS will not be using “No Place for Hate” and will no longer be using the services of the Anti-Defamation League.
Who should I contact if I am uncomfortable with something in my child’s classroom?
As always, if you have any concerns about your child’s educational experience, your first point of contact should always be your child’s teacher. Should any further concerns arise, contact your local school administrators.
How frequent are bullying issues in Mountain Brook Schools?
With more than 4,000 students attending Mountain Brook Schools, various issues arise on a daily basis. No school is immune to negative behavior and bullying issues. MBS works directly with families and students on issues that arise through our teachers, counselors and school administrators. While most situations are resolved in confidence, occasionally formal complaints are filed with local school administrators. Each situation is investigated, and every attempt is made to resolve or prevent the issue while protecting the privacy of the students and families.
*MBS will add additional questions and answers as needed*