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Addressing Controversial Issues

Note: This resource site is under development and will continue to evolve with input from our partners and community.

Resources for Teachers and Families

Santa Clara Unified School District and community value diversity and inclusivity, and believe in the freedom of students, staff, and families to express their thoughts and opinions within the established guidelines of federal and state law, and of SCUSD board policies and regulations.

One of SCUSD’s core values is Empathy and Respect, which we hold as foundational as we strive to design classroom and campus spaces where students can consider a range of perspectives, develop understandings, and express their truths. This effort is essential to realizing our district vision, which is that, “Graduates of Santa Clara Unified School District are resilient, future-ready, lifelong learners who think critically, solve problems collaboratively, and are prepared to thrive in a global society.” 

Academic Freedom, Controversial Issues, Diversity and Respect

SCUSD’s governing board, the Board of Trustees, is committed to providing a teaching and learning atmosphere that is free from censorship and restraint upon free inquiring, learning, and academic freedom. Teachers shall be afforded the broadest freedom to teach within the State law since evaluation of multiple sides of controversial issues is one of the means by which students learn how to search for truth and develop the increased capacity to make sound and mature judgments. The controversial nature of a subject shall not bar its discussion in the schools. 

We seek to nurture classrooms in which students can develop their critical thinking and empathy by exploring local and world events that involve multiple viewpoints and challenging circumstances. Teaching controversial issues is approached with a commitment to fostering critical thinking, open dialogue, and a deep understanding of multiple viewpoints while centering the needs of our students. Recognizing the importance of equipping students with the skills to engage with complex topics, educators in SCUSD navigate controversial issues in a thoughtful and inclusive manner. The district values free expression, encouraging students to express their opinions while emphasizing the importance of respectful discourse. By addressing controversial issues within the framework of critical inquiry and in the context of grade level/subject matter standards, SCUSD strives to prepare students for active and responsible citizenship in a diverse and dynamic society. 

While SCUSD supports an environment where all voices are heard and valued, it also steadfastly stands united against hatred in all its forms. In the face of hate, SCUSD advocates for tolerance, understanding, and unity that reflects our core values of empathy and respect. 

SCUSD is committed to fostering learning environments that promote belonging, safety, inclusion, and well-being for each and every student, family, staff, and community partner. Positive school climates depend on the entire school community taking actions and responsibility to ensure that all voices are heard and valued, acknowledging that diversity offers new and valuable perspectives, and finding common ground and solution-oriented strategies to address school community challenges. Together school communities can promote resiliency-building factors that contribute to life success for all students.

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