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Posted: March 10, 2017

Words Matter

"When it comes to our students, we need to think twice about what we say -- and post and tweet," Supt. Reedy wrote in her weekly message.

Words matter, in our profession more than others. We work with a vulnerable population, and how we talk to them, how we talk about them, can have long-term effects on how they feel about themselves and others.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. APS employees are professional and dedicated. They – you – have heart. From my decades in schools, I know without question that public education attracts altruistic people who desire to share their talents and create better possibilities for students.

We’re living through some tough times. Our budgets are stretched, our workloads are heavy and public discourse seems to be at an all-time high. It’s easy in times like these to feel frustrated, lose our tempers, disagree.

I get it. I do. But when it comes to our students, we need to think twice about what we say – and post and tweet.

I am a proponent of free speech. You absolutely have a right to your opinion, and you should be allowed to express it. However, as educators, we’re held to a higher standard when it comes to our comments, especially when they are about the children and the community we serve. We’re judged, arguably, harsher than others, but understandably so.

Our Employee Code of Conduct lists among unacceptable activities “any act of discrimination or harassment including but not limited to sexual, racial, religious, telling sexist or racist jokes, making racial and ethnic slurs.”  This includes “digital/cyber” environments. So before you tweet or post to Facebook or other social media sites, think how your words might feel to the students in your classroom, the children in your hallways, the families in your office, the community that supports you. 

Think, too, about their impact on your fellow employees.

We just posted the answers to some often asked questions about the immigration status of students. I encourage you to take a look. In summary, it says schools “must be safe places where a student’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and immigration status do not create any barriers to that child’s education.” As public servants, you need to understand this. As public educators, you need to believe it. 

We are Albuquerque Public Schools and we embrace diversity. I feel very strongly about this. It pains me to think any of our students, families or staff would ever feel unwelcome on our campuses.