Today, more than 39,000 students will arrive in Lincoln Public Schools classrooms, representing tremendous diversity in ethnicity, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, unique needs and other factors. Our classrooms are filled with extraordinary, unique young people and teachers who understand that good education isn't only about teaching academics, it's also about building relationships that create positive learning environments.

Through our strategic goals we affirm:

• Our commitment to inclusion and support for all our students -- and all means all -- because each and every student at Lincoln Public Schools deserves schools and classrooms where they can flourish and succeed.

• Our commitment to continue and strengthen what our school district has always done well, inviting parents to participate in their children’s education. A long-standing process is in place for parents to review materials and make decisions about their child’s participation based on their family’s beliefs and values.

• Our continuous trust in and support for LPS educators, trained professionals who strive to create caring, inclusive classrooms every day.

Indeed, inclusive classrooms mean that our schools must reflect the changing community and world in which we live, and change inevitably brings about robust conversation.

Lincoln Board of Education members remain committed to listening to community concerns on a broad range of topics and issues that impact the quality of education our students receive. Parents are an essential part of this conversation and we encourage families to take advantage of opportunities available, including:

• Establish contact with your child’s teacher and principal. Parents may request information about classroom resources, grade level curriculum and content.

• Attend and participate in any and all school events such as curriculum nights, conferences and other school-specific activities.

• Access the school and district websites, as many of our curriculum resources are posted online at www.lps.org.

• If concerns persist, contact the school district office, which serves as a resource to each school and provides guidance, support and information.

• In issues related to student and staff diversity, the school district’s LPS Cultural Proficiency Implementation Advisory Committee is charged with providing information, training and resources to all buildings; and its Steering Committee will review controversial materials as requested by a building principal.

• If concerns persist, reach out to your elected representative on the Board of Education.

We are also reaffirming and again communicating the opportunity to use the school district’s opt-out process, something that has been routine and used regularly at LPS for years. If parents have serious concerns about sensitive or controversial subject matter, they may request to have their student opt out. We have 39,000 students. Our parents can make the decision to opt out their child. They cannot make the decision to opt out the remaining 39,000 students.

The Board of Education believes it is time to move forward, stressing a few key values: We must be sensitive as we consider the individual needs of all students, respecting the parental ability to opt children out of specific lessons. At the same time, it is our responsibility to educate students for the diverse and complex world that awaits them. In fact, LPS policy specifically states we address controversial and difficult issues in an age-appropriate manner. Those are imperative values and virtues of a public education system. We owe that to our community.

We have established a meeting with a newly formed parent group, and while we look forward to listening to them, we will not lose sight of the interests and expectations of all our LPS families and the Lincoln community.

We appreciate the confidence and expectations our community has in our school district. We are thankful you entrust your children to LPS. There is no higher endorsement you can give.

Richard Meginnis is president of the Lincoln Board of Education and Steve Joel is superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools.

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