New Trier officially adopts a Civil Discourse and Critical Thinking Statement
In the fall of 2020, the New Trier High School Board of Education adopted a statement officially setting expectations for civil, diverse discourse at New Trier, both today and into the future.
As far as we know New Trier’s statement, found here in its Annual Plan, and below, is the first to be adopted by any American high school. We hope that it serves as a model for other schools which want to teach students how to think wisely, converse civilly, and engage productively in a world of competing ideas.
The text of the statement reads:
“New Trier Township High School believes that a fundamental aspect of our mission is to develop critical thinkers who can navigate a complex world through civil discourse, respectful inquiry, engaged listening and open consideration of multiple perspectives. Key to fulfilling this charge is the cultivation of a school environment in which all students feel welcome and free to explore a wide range of ideas. Our firm commitment to this principle reflects not only New Trier’s obligation to prepare our students for their future but our belief that the open exchange of idea lies at the core of a democratic society in which individuals are accountable for their actions and treat one another with dignity, compassion, and respect.”
Peter Tragos, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, explained the statement this way:
“The purpose of this [statement] is not only to integrate it into the annual plan, if not preface the annual plan, but really take an institutional stand or statement on civil discourse and critical thinking, staking out a claim that we engage and challenge students to think, to listen, to discuss real and controversial issues of the world and develop the skills to navigate multiple perspectives and think through our own assumptions, beliefs and biases.”
New Trier Neighbors, which proposed a free speech statement to the New Trier Board of Education at its July 2020 meeting, is wholly supportive of this powerful new statement. We believe adhering to the statement will foster in the New Trier community the tools needed to engage in civil discourse and the robust, diverse thinking that results in a free and productive citizenry.
As Benjamin Franklin said: “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.”
The Year in Review
Since New Trier Neighbors launched in October 2017 here is what you have made possible. If you like what you see, please donate!
Sustained issue campaigns to inform and educate on the D39 tax levy process and Wilmette’s mandatory minimum wage/sick leave debates.
Evening events with famed CNN economist (and New Trier alum) Stephen Moore, attended by nearly 100.
A screening and discussion of the critically acclaimed “How Jack Became Black” at New Trier High School, promoting diversity in racial discussions and attended by 300.
“Mix-n-Mingles,” including hosting our local village trustees and school board members, and speakers including Nicole Neily of Speech First, Jason Hill of DePaul University, Ted Dabrowski from Wirepoints, Bob Muzikowski of Chicago Hope Academy and others. With the development of COVID-19, we held bi-monthly webinars, including a program on the impact of the pandemic on learning with Ian Rowe of AEI, as well as other updates on safe school re-openings and IL’s progressive income tax.
Holding productive discussions with senior New Trier High school administrators on both exposing students to more intellectual diversity, and listening to students who are concerned about political bias in the classroom.
Publishing bi-weekly newsletters keeping North Shore residents up to date on politicized “gun walkouts,” sexuality surveys in schools, and other “must-know” information that you won’t find anywhere else.
Growing our mailing list of North Shore New Trier Neighbors to over 1800!
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Free Speech and Mental Health: How Are They Related?
Thanks for attending our webinar with Bonnie Snyder, Director of High School Programs at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
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