The Bend-La Pine School District is using a pilot program to teach students about bias. While the topics of bias and racism can be sensitive, teachers want to make it clear this isn’t about politics or agendas, but how students treat each other. Any parent who does not want their student to participate may opt out.
The district says Bias Incident Student Lessons are designed to help students understand bias, who experiences it, the impacts of bias and how to report it.
“One student in particular told me that or wrote down that he was glad that I gave him the lesson because he’s experienced things like that before but up until that time he didn’t know it was called bias or stereotyping,” said Brian Gonzalez, a fifth grade teacher at Bear Creek Elementary. “Now that I know I can say something for next time or be aware that it is happening.”
At Tuesday’s Bend-La Pine School Board meeting, a handful of teachers who are developing the bias student lesson program described how students are reacting to the materials.
“My students were highly engaged during this lesson,” said High Lakes kindergarten teacher Erica Hoiness. “It really took two lessons. They especially enjoyed learning about the word identity and talking and sharing about what makes them different and what makes them special.”
“This is not just something we are doing in the classroom. This is a community collective effort. We are asking parents and the community to be involved and to give us feedback this spring, too,” said Kinsey Martin, the district’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The next steps will be reviewing all feedback from families, students, teachers and administrators, refining the lessons and improving the visual aids.
The goal is to implement the lessons in K-12 classes throughout the Bend-La Pine School District this fall.