School of Business Affairs - October -2017

24 OCTOBER 2017 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS T he national conversation about intolerance, bigotry, and hate—which is front- page news, especially since the violence in Charlottesville, Vir- ginia, in August—presents educators with teachable moments almost daily. One aspect of intolerance that has received little coverage is anti-Sem- itism; the fact is that during Janu- ary 2017 alone, Jewish community centers across the country received 48 bomb threats. In 2015, the Anti-Defamation League reported 90 anti-Semitic incidents on school campuses—up from previous years. Last summer, this undercurrent of anti-Semitism prompted the Jew- ish Family Services of Lancaster, a nonsectarian, nonprofit organiza- tion in south central Pennsylvania, to host a community program to address this concern and to provide opportunities for discussion within the community and within the context of the public and private schools. That three-hour program—enti- tled “Anti-Semitism in Our Schools: It’s Not Just a Jewish Problem,” and offered at no cost (breakfast included)—had a keynote speaker and a moderated panel discussion. The keynote speaker was well- known historian and Holocaust scholar Jack Fischel, professor emeritus at Millersville University. A rabbi from the community served as the moderator, and a Lutheran pas- tor, a retired teacher, and a mother and her high school–age daughter were panelists. More than 80 people attended the program, which was held at a local community center. Despite the ample press coverage for the event as well as personal invitations to super- intendents and principals throughout the region, just a handful of school districts were represented. A board member from an urban school district and officials from a few suburban and rural districts participated. Missing, however, were administrative representatives from one of the region’s largest urban districts (the date conflicted with its district leadership retreat) and from a suburban school district that had been the focal point of alleged anti- Semitism following the cancellation of a Christmas play. The superintendent of a suburban school district brought the district’s high school and middle school principals to the forum because the district was eager to weave another anti-Semitism strand into its K–12 curriculum. Tackling Tough Topics— Addressing Hate It’s time for districts to take responsibility for addressing the growing undercurrent of hate in society. By Robert Ruder, Ed.D. LEADING FORWARD TEAM OKTOPUS/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM