By Rosealee Hoffman
I’d like to talk about the Aledo Way.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the community, at least around my ears, as to what exactly this means. If you ask ten different people, you’ll get ten different definitions. I asked a group of friends what it meant to them.
I heard words like character, class, excellence, and hard work – all admirable traits. To an extent, I agree with them. In my book that’s not the complete definition of the Aledo Way. There’s more to it. But we’ll get back to that.
First, I’d like to address an interpretation of the Aledo Way that I heard last week that still disturbs me. The Aledo ISD Board of Trustees heard a plan last week for “Cultural Inclusivity” – and dismissed it outright, and one member cited “the Aledo Way” as part of her objection.
I don’t want to point fingers at that person because I saw several other heads nodding along, and I saw several posts after the meeting completely agreeing that the plan should have been shot down.
But for what reasons?
Apparently, there are those among us who believe “the Aledo Way” means not teaching our children about diversity and inclusiveness. I can’t quite wrap my head around that.
I heard words like “indoctrination” thrown around before and after the meeting. The diversity plan, while a little too broad and filled with buzzwords for my taste, did not include the word – or the concept – of “indoctrination.”
The gist of the plan was something along the lines of “don’t be a jerk to someone just because they’re different than you. It’s ok to be different.” Which brings me back around to my definition of the Aledo Way.
Looking at my immediate social circle: some are native to Aledo, some of us got here as fast as we could. Some are conservative, some are not. Some of us are white, others are minorities. Some us of are Cowboys fans, and some of us are Bears fans – but we love them anyway, regardless of differing values. It doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and buy a Bears jersey, but I won’t be hateful to her because she’s wearing one.
It’s the Aledo Way.
What is not the Aledo Way is questioning whether teaching your child to not be a jerk is something the school district should do. In many areas, that is already in place. There are codes of conduct, character traits of the month and other programs in our district aimed at teaching our children “there is an acceptable way to behave socially, and this is it.”
Last year, when the district first began considering some sort of diversity training, I sat down with Scott Kessel, who leads the committee that created the plan. He and I discussed the lack of diversity in Aledo, and how that created a challenge in teaching tolerance. We talked about the programs the school had in place and the work the committee had before them. I knew it would not be an easy task to create something that pleased everyone in the district.
What I did not expect was, after a year of work, most of the board of trustees would decide the district didn’t have a problem and not even consider the plan. If you think Aledo doesn’t have a problem, and won’t have problems in the future, then maybe you should consider that you could be part of the problem, or at least so insulated that you can’t see it.
I see it. I see kids who feel rejected or bullied or hated because they are different. They’re Bearcats too. Maybe not your kind of Bearcat, but they’re one of us.
To borrow a phrase from a movie, what makes us who we are is what we protect, and what we stand up for.
I, for one, choose to protect those who have been made to feel “less than” because they are different. I choose to stand up for a plan that teaches our children we can love one another and be a family without all sharing the exact same skin color, religion, or values. I urge the Board of Trustees to do the same.
It’s the Aledo Way.
Rosealee Hoffman is a staff reporter for The Community News, and a graduate of Aledo High School.