Milford schools pass racial equity resolution

Students and staff discuss racial equity during a recent meeting of the Milford Board of Education.

Students and staff discuss racial equity during a recent meeting of the Milford Board of Education.

Zoom screen capture

MILFORD — City schools have pledged to support anti-racism and social justice efforts, according to a resolution the Board of Education unanimously passed at its Dec. 14 meeting.

The Resolution on Race, Equity and Social Justice affirmed the board’s commitment to being an ally of people of color, and also called for bringing student leaders into the process, according to Chairman Sue Glennon.

In the board’s other main action at its Dec. 14 meeting, Superintendent Anna Cutaia presented a Pre-K and kindergarten review that was conducted last year.

“Not even COVID-19 could stop us from completing (this review) but COVID may delay our implementation,” she said.

The review focused on the concepts of executive function and intentional play.

Executive functions are cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goal. Intentional play addresses specific learning goals in a fun manner. Though student directed, it is guided by an adult.

“A year ago in the spring, the board engaged in a district study on executive function and intentional play,” said Assistant Superintendent Amy Fedigan. “We wanted to think about the model for high quality instruction in Milford Public Schools and how it might influence our work with our youngest learners.”

Board member Nicole Wasson agreed that executive functioning is crucial to early learning.

“I work with college-age students and executive functioning is so important at that age too,” she said. “So the earlier we can start is better. It goes well beyond their 12 or 13 years in the Milford Public School System.”

Fedigan pointed out that it would be important to merge various early childhood programs under the same administrative oversight to ensure that there is consistency and continuity across the programs.

Supervisor of Student Development and Wellness Sean Smyth explained the importance and differences of play (fun, unplanned and unstructured with students making it up to learn freedom goals) and intentional play.

“Intentional play is an amazing time to teach and access the social emotional learning skills,” he said. “It is not your traditional test - the kids will be playing a game and you are looking at their progress. The reason we are focusing on this is because these skills are important to school and life. They are essential for school achievement, essential for our future workforce and they help us avoid a wide range of public health problems. The research is there to back up how important these skills are.”

Following the presentation board member Adam De Young said programs like these, targeted at the youngest students, was why he joined the Board of Educataion in the first place.

“Sue (Glennon) and I have talked many times about wanting this to be a piece of what we accomplish as a board and as a school district,” he said. “I applaud the effort taking this on while COVID is happening…I think it is just critical to our future.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354