728 United facilitated a meeting with ISD 728 superintendent and the 728 Director of Human Resources with both state and national representatives of F.A.I.R. in December of 2021 to provide the district an understanding of how harmful a divisive approach to educating students about racism is and results in negative student behaviors that have been witnessed both in District 728 and across the state of MN. For example, in May of 2021, a student group at Elk River High School hosted a walk out in the name of social justice and police shootings of African Americans. Some felt the tone of the walk out was anti-law enforcement and some students wore BLM gear to the rally. Many 728 students have family that work in law enforcement. These students were so concerned about the social back lash towards them regarding this “walk-out” that they opted to not attend school that day or have their parents pick them up early prior to the scheduled walk-out. Later, after the demonstration, a group of students publicly and maliciously went onto social media to list the white students that did not attend the rally, labelling them racists and using the slogan “White Silence is Violence.” 728 United was able to speak to some of these families and learned their children were so traumatized by this that they chose to disenroll from the district altogether. 728 United has been working with parents from districts across the state and has learned this type of behavior is not isolated and impacts students of all ethnicities.
The focus of the F.A.I.R. meetings was to provide the district with solutions that would benefit all students by empowering them with hope and unity. F.A.I.R.’s purpose is to utilize a unifying, pro-human approach to addressing racism through their full curriculum developed by PhD educators and historians for US History class and Ethnics studies class that is free of charge to all school districts. This curriculum approaches our history from a viewpoint of educating where our nation fell short, where we need more work as well as how our nation has moved to improve equality for all citizens. Districts have the option of adding part of F.A.I.R.’s curriculum to supplement existing curriculum or utilizing the full F.A.I.R. curriculum Please see their video, https://youtu.be/6qDaNDq_9_8, for more information on the focus of F.A.I.R.’s curriculum as well as their curriculum website: About – FAIRstory. In addition to ISD 728, two other local school districts, Monticello and STMA, are also considering these curriculum options as a possible off-ramp from the more divisive driven rhetoric and teaching that has been seeping into our classrooms across the United States. F.A.I.R. also offers high school clubs designed to assist student exploring current social issues encouraging student to examine a variety of resources with the goal of teaching critical thinking and civil discourse even when student disagree. Finally, this organization also offers staff training sessions on how to create pro-human classrooms that focus on the ideologies of Martin Luther King Jr. where individual character is emphasized. If local citizens and parents find F.A.I.R.’s approach appealing, please contact Dr. Dan Bittman at firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your support as the district will be considering this information over the summer of 2022 to incorporate into the Ethnic Studies class coming in 2023 as a result of the MDE rehash of the Social Studies Standards for Minnesotan students. Further, if you have a high school student who may be interested in starting a F.A.I.R club at any of the 728 high schools, please go to the F.A.I.R. website and contact them on how to get started. There is already a Minnesota chapter with a lot of support for students who are interested.