La Crosse Waking Up White Collaborative member urges school board not to ‘whitewash American history’



LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Ron Malzer, retired psychologist from La Crosse, urged the La Crosse school board on Monday night to ensure that “We at La Crosse do not whitewash American history.”


Malzer was addressing the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which goes by the acronym ALEC, in stifling education about racism and sexism in schools and other places.

Malzer, a board member of the La Crosse Waking Up White Collaborative, compared these efforts to blatant attacks on educational institutions.

“Groups are using the ALEC handbook” to pressure legislatures to block education on 89 concepts, said Malzer, who cited anti-racism, cultural awareness, fairness, restorative justice and social prejudices among the most surprising examples.

The ACLE has been particularly active since The New York Times published The 1619 Project, a chronicle of the history of slavery that has been heavily criticized by politics and right-wing groups.

Malzer addressed the board at his own request, and the board members did not ask any questions. His address came after council heard an update on mental health efforts in the district.

“COVID has had a huge impact on mental health” at all levels of society, but the school district was “super lucky” in that it received a grant of $ 2.5 million over five years through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to integrate the Project AWARE mental health program before the onset of the pandemic, said Curt Teff, district director of community services.

The AWARE project, which stands for “Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education,” helped the district school identify priorities for a year before the pandemic struck, Teff said.

He touted the project’s ability to instill in students ‘social / emotional awareness as lifelong learning’, its goals being to:

  • Increase the capacity of schools to respond to mental health crises on site.
  • Increase the voice of youth and family and genuine engagement.
  • Improve collaboration between systems to improve mental health supports.
  • Increase access and commitment to mental health wellness treatment resources for children and youth.

It does this by promoting “socio-emotional learning through classroom teaching on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationships”.

Director of Student Services Aimee Zabrowski also described the district’s effort for the “Whole Child Framework” and told the board: “When we talk about mental health, we are talking about the whole of the good. -to be. “

Elementary schools have one full-time person with a dual role of counselor and social worker, she said.

In September, the district launched an initiative with the county social services department to add two social workers and hopes to add more, Zabrowski said.

He also started a parent peer support program in which parents who have experienced troubling mental health issues can help others who are struggling, she said.

Teff also noted the district’s new partnership with the Gundersen Health System to provide short-term early intervention in which students can receive five free sessions with mental health professionals. The partnership provides a full-time supplier for elementary schools and a full-time supplier for high schools.

He also used the services of 55 mental health providers in the city to interview them.
Students who reach a point where they realize they have a need, said Teff: “We want to make sure that we can provide” help.

The district also ensures that every staff member, including teachers, food service workers, janitorial workers, etc., is made aware of mental health issues so that if they feel a student is struggling, he can direct her for help, Zabrowski said. .

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