Jonah Nelson 0

Petition Over the Current Environment at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

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    We, the undersigned, wish to express our concern regarding the current environment at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. This petition, while motivated from recent developments at JDS, addresses many grievances that the undersigned have noticed over the past few years at school. The letter from Gveret Entin did not bring to light any new problems; rather, it addressed many issues that recent alumni (as well as others) have had with the school, including the administration. The petition expresses the desire of the undersigned for changes in the environment at JDS.
     However, let it be clear that the desire of this petition is not to attack the school, but to try to help the community that played such an important role in the lives of many people, whether parents, students, alumni or those who emphasize the value of a Jewish education. These flaws need to be addressed because we care for JDS deeply and wish to see it thrive. The current situation at the school is deeply impacting the JDS community in a negative manner, and we only critique out of love for JDS.
     Over the past few years we have seen a significant rise in the number of faculty members opting to leave the school and look elsewhere for employment opportunities. Though it cannot be assumed of all of these instances, a strained relationship between the faculty and administration does seem to have played a role in some of these departures, as evidenced by the anonymous messages from some educators in a Lions Tale article that was published at the end of the school year who expressed their discontent with current state of affairs. The fact that the administration allowed this information to be published freely is an encouraging sign that they do not wish to completely hide the school's faults; however, more steps must certainly be taken to address such concerns and discontent. Additionally, this negative atmosphere is damaging to both the education of current students and their experience outside of the classroom as part of a community that is supposed to be open and supportive. The administration needs to publicly address the concerns of teachers and respond to them in an appropriate manner. 
     While we cannot claim to know all of the circumstances surrounding these recent troubling developments, we cannot help but be concerned regarding the negativity which seems to be plaguing our community. No group has played a more important role in shaping our experience at JDS than our wonderful educators, who have dedicated themselves to helping us grow and achieve our fullest potential and who continue to do so year after year for new students long after we have gone. Our teachers treated us with the utmost respect, even when we did not always deserve it, and we can only hope that the administration shows them the equal respect that they deserve in return for everything they do for our community.
On the CESJDS website, the mission statement states that one of the school’s pillars is Torah L’Shmah, or “to become lifelong learners inspired by a love of ‘learning for the sake of learning’ through a rigorous comprehensive academic program of general and Judaic studies which places a priority on critical, independent and creative thought and expression.” Yet the current atmosphere at JDS does not hold true to Torah L’Shmah. When our Jewish values are not being upheld at a place that holds important meaning to us, then we cannot afford to stay silent and that is why we are speaking out today. We, the undersigned, hope to maintain a strong relationship with the school that has impacted us all in different ways.


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