Dear Esteemed Members of the ER9 Board of Education,

We are writing in support, praise, and appreciation for our Superintendent of ER9, Dr. Rydell Harrison. During this critical juncture in our nation’s health and political history, we find his thoughtful, conscientious and timely letter to parents appropriate as both an educator and community leader. He understands that this is a nation that they will inherit, and that even the most challenging of threats is a learning opportunity.

These are deeply stressful and difficult times. It is important to have our top educator address the siege on our nation’s Capitol with clarity and compassion. It is important that there is acknowledgement that the targeted violence that led to the death of five Americans, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, is domestic terrorism that must be condemned.

It is even more important to expect that our schools would be a resource for helping our students navigate and make real-time sense of what they witness, as these events have an immediate impact on their lives, safety, and future.

Dr. Harrison is right to be concerned about what these images (published online, broadcasted on TV and across social media platforms) and this moment in history may mean to our students. He is right to anticipate their concerns, as well as their emotional and social needs for understanding and dialogue.

His leadership and call to “build a caring community” is spot on and a priority for Easton and Redding students. Dr. Harrison’s desire to mobilize the power of our educators, families, and student inquiry is a testament to his ability to unite for the common good. It also makes good educational sense and, it seems important that our school district address these conversations in an age-appropriate way within our classrooms.

Knowledge is power. Communication can open minds and build bridges. And, at times like these, we need open dialogue, healthy debate, and ample guidance from our teachers and administrators so we can continue to rebuild and restore trust in our guardrails of democracy and civic life. We encourage framing, rather than silencing, the discussion (or an individual’s First Amendment rights) as a critical course of action, and we applaud Dr. Harrison for his efforts in this regard.

We encourage you, esteemed board members and valued administrators, to join with us in support of Dr. Harrison. We are living through a turbulent time in history. We must acknowledge and address the times we are in, study them, and as educators and leaders, step up to the responsibility to help make sense out of complicated distress.

Under Dr. Harrison’s leadership, we believe that we are in competent and very capable hands and are deeply grateful to him.

Sincerely and with deepest support for all of your dedication to our students,

State Rep. Anne Hughes, 135th District, and State Senator Will Haskell, 26th District

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