“Westport Parents” Slam Critical Race Theory

The “critical race theory” war on education has come to Westport.

A group calling itself “Westport Parents” has created a website: “WP06880.” There were links to it on several local Facebook sites yesterday morning; they soon disappeared.

There are no names associated with the project, and no means of contacting the organizers beyond subscribing to updates.

The website describes the group as 37 parents who got together in June. They wanted to share concerns about “the increasing focus on assertions of racism in our community, especially after our new Superintendent of Schools made these assertions in his Strategic Plan.”

That’s a reference to a statement by Thomas Scarice about systemic racism in Westport. He hired the NYU Metro Center to perform an equity audit.

One screenshot of the “WP06880” website …

The website says:

We were alarmed by the ideology and methodology of the Metro Center, which we could access on its website, and which was clearly based in Critical Race Theory.

Those of us who were familiar with CRT know it to be a Marxist based ideology that seeks to divide people by separating them into groups based on power dynamics, with white people seen as white supremacist being dominant and all others being the marginalized groups of oppressed victims. This oppressor vs oppressed division into identity groups would necessarily create division and be harmful to our school aged children.

Another page on the website says that Critical Race Theory has “connections to Marxism, past and present. The group hopes to “arm Westport parents with strong counter-arguments when CRT apologists try to bully CRT critics with insinuations of racism.”

… and another.

The mission, according to the website, is to “stop the proponents of false and destructive narratives from implementing their political agenda to transform our schools.” The group wants to focus on academic achievement, and “reject political activism and moralizing intrusions in the classroom.”

There are quotes — also anonymous — from parents:

My wife and I believe that some things are best taught at home and in our church. We want the schools to focus on the academic skills necessary for our children to succeed in a global economy. Equal OPPORTUNITY for all, not equal OUTCOMES! (“Long Lots Elementary School father”)

Let’s keep this toxic doctrine where it belongs: far away from our children and schools. (“Saugatuck Elementary School parent”)

I send my kids to school to learn how to read and write, add and subtract. They are not there to be guinea pigs in some “anti-capitalist” sociology experiment. (“Staples mom”)

Among the suggested action steps:

  • Put up a yard sign
  • Demand an end to the relationship with NYU Metro
  • Get the RTM to adopt a proposal that Westport is diverse and welcoming
  • Demand parent access to current school curriculum.

111 responses to ““Westport Parents” Slam Critical Race Theory

  1. Bruce Fernie SHS 1970

    I applaud these parents for confronting a political agenda that will have no benefits to their children or society and is being promoted throughout the nation by the race-baiters. These groups of well organized people only believe that their goals can be met by dividing and then conquering rather than by all coming together for the common good.

    ‘Demand parent access to current school curriculum.’ this shouldn’t ever be in question and any ‘good’ parents should demand to know K-12. Ours did in the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s… what happened since then?

    • Stephanie Frankel

      I was at a strategic planning meeting with Tom Scarice at Long Lots. The topic of diversity and welcoming diversity came up. At that point, the man next to me stood up and started screaming about CRT teaching our kids to be racist against white people. I have to say, I laughed out loud.

      This anti- CRT movement is all over the deep depths of the right wing social media rabbit hole. It is the same people who scream at school board meetings about wearing a mask or getting vaccinated.

      There are so many misconceptions, lies, misinformation, disinformation, brainwashing and conspiracy theories swirling around about CRT and how it is forcing kids to hate being white. Keep in mind your sources of information. Have you asked an actual teacher what they are teaching about racism in class? Do you have a problem with diversity, acceptance, kindness, and real history good or bad being taught?

      Learn the facts. These people are against any bad part of American history being taught in our schools. They want kids to learn that black people sold slaves to America, not that white people owned them. Learn about the anti- CRT social media sites like Prager U. Learn who these people are who stand up and yell at board meetings. Learn what is behind it all. What is the impetus?

      • Hi Stephanie, Please don’t lump me into a group of “right wing social media rabbit hole. …of people who scream at school board meetings.” I have been speaking up at BOE meetings in a very civil and professional manner for the past year. And I have very good arguments for why I find CRT/Equity principles to be detrimental to our schools. And I find many African American educators and thinkers who hold my views as well. So, please keep an open mind. Disregard the crazies, of which there are many on both sides, as this is an emotional issue for some. And focus on the arguments of rational, well-read, philosophical thinkers who disagree with the implications of applying CRT in our public schools, not emotional parents at school board meetings. Keep in mind, emotions are high on both sides, so shine light on the effort to find commonality and a way to go forward that does not divide people but maintains our founding principles that seek to preserve Equal Opportunity and individual freedom. Thanks.

        • You are the one with the level headed response. Not the woman who sat next to you. Thank you sir.

        • Stephanie Frankel

          Anne,
          I would love to meet you sometime and have coffee to discuss. Would you be up for that? I am a teacher.

  2. No names? No way to contact them? ‘Staples Parent?’ Come on…either it’s fake, or they are cowards. But these ‘parents’ are right on their list of ‘action steps.’ The RTM can easily adopt a proposal that Westport is diverse and welcoming. Problem solved, you’re welcome.

  3. I would hate to see this already welcoming community be sidetracked by this radical, backward theory.

    • Stephanie Frankel

      Have you bothered to ask any Westport Public School teacher what they actually teach about racism in class?

  4. Dan, thank you for posting this neutrally without injecting personal beliefs. I too applaud this group for highlighting an issue of which many parents are not aware, as it seems the district is trying to implement CRT quietly. I hope this opens a respectful dialogue from both sides.

  5. I’m not a fan of trendy “branded” names like Critical Race Theory and Marxism. They both become the focus of the discussion rather than the content of what is to be discussed: our shared history as a community and what we did right and what we did wrong. People who want to use these terms to divide our community into culture camps fear an honest an open discussion based on facts and truth.

    Let’s teach history following the facts, not culture war positions. Let’s be brave, face the truth and resolve to do better.

    Now, can someone explain to us how examining well-documented racist structural impediments to purchasing real estate and getting educational loans experienced by black people equates with promoting Marxism? How is promoting equal access to capitalist resources a path to communism? That seems like an intentional red herring put forward by folks who either don’t understand what Marxism is or just want to bully our teachers out of teaching an important topic in our history. History is a topic we still teach in school, not just left to church and family discussions, correct? Do we just leave segregation, racism and economic discrimination out of history class because some folks find it embarrassing? Surely not.

    I believe in telling the truth in history class (and everywhere else…) and I’m not a Marxist. Whitewashing past racist practices is weak and beneath our community standards, “scary” terms like Marxism and Critical Race Theory not withstanding.

    • VERY WELL SAID!!!!!!!!!! And without all of the curse words I would have undoubtedly used.

    • Thanks Michael,for this succinct, thoughtful and oh so important rebuttal of the know nothing “WP06880” group’s Neanderthal, myopic, incorrect and socially destructive position.

    • Abby Gordon-Tolan

      Thank you Micheal. This is so well said.

  6. Christine Meiers Schatz

    For what it is worth, I believe that there is systemic racism everywhere in the U.S. and Westport is no exception. In fact, in some ways implicit (not purposeful) bias is worse here because we live in a relatively homogenous town in one of the most segregated states in the United States. I’m glad that the school system will discuss the issue and, as an RTM member, I would actively campaign against any RTM resolution seeking to undermine these efforts. I also think we need to give more credit to our excellent teachers. They are not going to tell kids that they are white supremacists, as some in this group seem to fear.

    Also, wouldn’t any RTM resolution stating that our town is racially diverse be factually inaccurate? (See diversity metrics here: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/united-states vs here:
    https://datausa.io/profile/geo/westport-ct). What is our basis for comparison? I lived all over the U.S. and abroad because my dad was in the military, and the lack of diversity in Westport was one of the first things I noticed when we moved here 10 years ago. I absolutely love this town – that’s why I volunteer my time on the RTM – but I do worry about how the relatively racially homogenous environment will affect my kids.

  7. Why don’t parents have access to school curriculum? I would want to know what is being taught at every grade level.

  8. Michael, thank you for your thoughtful and panic-free comment, which accurately tries to separate the politics of the argument from the substance. Yes, we are a very inclusive and welcoming community, but nobody can argue that we are a particularly diverse one. So educating our kids about the complex racial and social history (and the present) of this country is that much more important. Call it CRT, history, social studies, or anything else you want, just make sure that our kids know more about the world around them than the sheltered experience of Westport CT can offer.

    As for the group? WP06880? Are you kidding me? Anything else those initials remind you of? This has got to be a joke, people can’t be that thick…

  9. I was a teacher for 30 years, and taught American History, in high school, for some of those 30 years. I also taught middle school. I always tried to bolster my students self esteem! Low self esteem, in students, is like a cancer! I did my best to be the best teacher I could be. That will be the extent of my comment.

  10. I would be very careful about giving this website any additional oxygen. The proliferation of groups and efforts like this in towns across the US funded by outsiders and with little to no connection to the communities in question has been well-reported.

    This website was registered exactly a week ago and is registered to an address in Reykjavik, Iceland. Perhaps there is a rational explanation for that, but it doesn’t strike me as a think a group of local parents would do, especially those calling for transparency.

    Beyond the comments about Mr. Scarice and the NYU group – which is in the public record – everything else on here is boilerplate / links to external resources and articles that all have a very ideological bent.

    There have been some very well-reasoned comments above mine, but we can be assured that the more this circulates the less rational the discussion will become. Perhaps these issues merit further consideration from our community, but I don’t think having that agenda driven by an anonymous group (of likely outsiders) leveraging well-trod right-wing scare words and not putting forth any tangible plan of action beyond bothering town and school officials should be the driving force behind any broader discussions.

    • James Morgan – perfectly said. Who even knows if this is a real group, or if it’s something fake circulated to create the kind of disruption evident in the comments to the thread — looks like it did its intended job. Given the anonymity, the one-week-old website registered in Iceland, and the well-worn tropes used to create fear around this topic, doesn’t really give it any credibility at all.

  11. Christine, Michael, and Art are all more eloquent than I could be, so I will just add this:

    Access to school curriculum?
    There is an entire website

    https://sites.google.com/westportps.org/curriculum-guide/

    All of the school websites and the district website link to it.

  12. I think that before people start mouthing off against critical race theory
    that they try to learn what it is. The Sept 20 New Yorker has an article
    about Derrick Bell, the Black Harvard Law professor who is the author
    of the term and the concept. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/09/20/the-man-behind-critical-race-theory

    The above link might lead you to it. The library in Westport must have this issue.

    ADW Staples 1956

  13. I no longer have children in the Westport Public School system, but I was curious about what an “Equity Audit” looks like so I looked it up. I admittedly just skimmed it, but doesn’t seem to address curriculum content.

    https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/2020-06/equity_audit_palm_beach_final_report_8_29_16.pdf

    • Kerry, You live in Palm Beach County now? I was on South Ocean Blvd. 5 miles south of Mar-a- Lago. After I retired, I substituted in the Palm Beach County School System for five years.

  14. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    Folks Please talk to your local officials! Dan’s column is great and essential to a town with no printed media (yes the WN is basically the CT POST ) but it is not universally read in Westport.
    If you want to know more about curriculum talk to your Board of Ed members and candidates, arrange a meeting or round table with Scarice.
    If you really care ask questions of those who make decisions and set the lessons.
    And most important know of those running for local office each year and how they feel, stand, and will vote. Your vote should reflect what you know about those who will be making the local decisions. Vote locally for the person and their alignment with your beliefs, not the party or national issues that will not effect local decisions be it education, land or financial leadership.
    Ask, learn and then act.

  15. It’s always sad to see a complex idea lynched in the town square by people who can’t see out from behind their hoods.

    • This isn’t a “complex idea”… this is pure hate for America based on the false premise of 1619 (when pressed by real historians, the author called it “a literary work” and refused to support that ALL the information in the piece was factual.) See the lie, know the lie, crush the lie. This is politics playing out in the public square and the teaching segregation and hate for people who don’t look the same is pure Marxism

      • Stephanie Frankel

        Pure hate for America? Is that what you think all Westport teachers are teaching our kids? Wow! Such hateful teachers!

        • In the recommended CRT curriculum is a clear disdain for America’s founding. No recognition of “that period” when slavery was part of society (even though many denounced it) and also no willingness to acknowledge the good things that came out of an “independent America” at the time of our founding. If teachers relay this to our children, then they too will think America was just racist and had no initial redeeming qualities….so that is what is meant by teaching hate. The goal in teaching history should be to hold America in high esteem for her accomplishments resulting in the greatest nation in history, but also to recognize her faults. It’s out course corrections throughout our history that help make us great, not just our freedoms. Teaching should bring us together, however the core materials of CRT seek to divide us and that should not be acceptable to anyone.

          • Stephanie Frankel

            The Star Spangeled Banner was written by a slave owner! That is a fact of history! Land of the FREE!! Lol!!
            Germany teaches kids about their dark past of the Holocaust.. does that mean they teach their kids to hate themselves or Germany?

  16. Thank goodness someone is finally addressing the growing scourge of Marxism in our public school system.

    The topic is so timely:

    Why waste valuable energy examining side-issues like climate change, a global pandemic, the possibilitiy of national financial collapse, food security, clean water, healthcare and housing for millions living in poverty and other silly distractions, when we can focus on the real scourge:

    Marxism.

    We should consider empowering a governmental group – perhaps in the US House of Representatives – who could be given the power to root out all un-American activities.

  17. All those anonymous comments on that mysterious Web site? Sheesh. This is a good moment to thank Dan once again for forcing commenters here to use their real names. If the entire Internet were run this way the whole thing would be a lot less… annoying.

  18. There’s an age-old adage, “follow the money”. In this case add “power” to that sentence. This focus on division in our society is kept alive and propagated by individuals and organizations that would cease to exist if they couldn’t convince people that the path to unity is through continued emphasis on division. Think about it. Money, political power and fame are attached to every organization or individual that can convince people that the only way to treat one group of people fairly is to blame or subjugate another group for the “benefit” of all. Whatever happened to “2 wrongs don’t make a right”? The great strides made in this country towards civil rights and affording everyone the same rights was accomplished by inclusion of the majority of all groups, not at the detriment (actual or perceived) of any one group. Yes, we have a long way to go still. You can’t make meaningful change without the majority of all people supporting that change. If you back otherwise good, sympathetic people into a corner to the point they cannot actively support the cause for fear of being wronged themselves (especially when it comes to their family) then you’ve lost the best avenue forward. These folks won’t actively voice opposition but also, more importantly, won’t actively support the change. But again, division pays big and the most active proponents of division don’t want to find themselves needing a job. If there wasn’t the emphasis on division, there’d be no need for CNN versus Fox News. No one is interested in the truth, just their own agenda. I know this is counter-intuitive but try to see past the brain washing and propaganda. Moving a society forward from a civil perspective is better served by a simple strategy, drain the color from the discussion. Color has no place nor weight on what is right or wrong unless we let it take center stage. Focus on right and wrong and the principles this country was founded on and we aspire to achieve, period. If we change the vernacular we eventually change the discussion and neutralize the emotional knee-jerk reaction which clouds meaningful discord. Why should it matter whether a police shooting or store looting is further identified by the color of the individuals involved? At its core if the act is illegal it should be investigated and resolved, period, without regard to color. Add color to the mix and now the lines are drawn and reason is drowned out. Now the looting is ok because it arose out of a protest, now the shooting is automatically wrongful. This is a very slippery slope to continue on this path as evidenced by the mounting crime statistics in major cities across the country due to the handcuffing of the police. Division is not just a civic issue, it is the path to the destruction of our society and a clear and present danger to us all. Next time your seeing or listening to someone preaching division as a way to “make things right” ask yourself what is the actual agenda behind the rhetoric and try reframing the discussion without “color” being center stage. Follow the money and power and don’t be a pawn in someone’s personal or political agenda.

    • I assume the long paragraphs come from people cut-and-pasting from the same website.

      It is not fostering division to teach a complete history of our history.

      The people who don’t want race to come into the conversation seem to want to deny the more troubling aspects of our nation’s past.

  19. I have zero interest in getting into the CRT discussion at this time, because I havent done my homework to know enough about it, and form an opinion. What is clear is people make statements or take sides, without an ounce of understanding, or knowing what they are talking about.

    Case in point… the domain name has the same privacy details every domain name for Namecheap uses. The website is not based in Iceland and is unlikely created by someone in Iceland. Here is a quick reading: https://www.namecheap.com/blog/domain-privacy-is-changing-at-namecheap/

    Those that posted about Iceland to try to leverage into discrediting could’ve done a two second google search to arrive at this explanation. This is an example of an issue we face as a society: misinformation and spreading misinformation. It seems to only be getting worse and worse. How do we become a society of fact-based truth that is not driven by an apparent or hidden agenda?

    • I’ll own the point about introducing Iceland into the discussion. I will admit that this is not my, ahem, domain of expertise and so should have dug further. That said, having read the link, I’m not sure “hiding behind a domain privacy protection service based in Iceland” would have altered the broader point of my post.

      I’m not entirely sure this does much to quell my skepticism about its legitimacy. Okay, Iceland for privacy reasons, but I would still expect real people to stand up and put their name to it.

      I agree with you that misinformation is a serious problem in our shared discourse – and I’ll own my small, unintentional contribution to it – but would also suggest anonymity / lack of accountability is as well (and no doubt both are very much interrelated).

      • Let me add some further color… pretty much every new domain purchased defaults to privacy, and no longer lists the actual registrant, whether individual, or company. This changed some years back. So someone would have to go out of their way to edit the default, and put their name to it.

        What is clear though, from the website at least, is the group’s individuals intend to be anonymous. There could be legitimate reasons, such as safety.

        Me, personally, I would focus on the information they are providing, and validating whether its factual/true, open to interpretation/opinion, etc. By all means, call them out for spreading incorrect facts (misinformation). In this day in age, I wouldn’t put it past some non-local individual/organization with motives to build a web page like this to try to cause social disruption. This happens on a larger scale during elections and social unrest. Further investigation is possibly warranted.

  20. India van Voorhees

    I urge those who are up in arms about CRT being taught in our schools to learn about what CRT actually is.

    CRT is a concept discussed in the lofty realm of academia. It is the concept that U.S. institutions (justice, education, housing, etc.) are constructed through our rules and laws to be systemically racist. It began in law schools, and has now expanded to departments of history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, comparative lit, etc. Higher education.

    CRT is not taught in K-12.
    CRT should not be confused with teaching – for example – the truth about slavery in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Histories like that have been whitewashed for far too long.
    But, also, CRT doesn’t blame today’s white people for racial inequalities. It asks us to be morally responsible in doing something about it.

    Most of the criticisms about CRT have no bearing on the reality of it.

    There’s an excellent book for those who want to learn about what it really is.
    It’s simply called “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” and it’s written by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic.

  21. “A class presentation listing ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of slavery is why we need racism education”
    https://www.upworthy.com/class-presentation-lists-pros-and-cons-of-slavery

  22. Dan, Great reporting and presentation of the issue. All the comments seem to be thought out and diverse. Always a healthy aspect of any forum.

    However, as a parent of a small child in the Westport school system, it is unnerving to see how the concept of racism can be presented in the wrong light. I am all for teaching FACTUAL history whether pretty or not, but there are too many instances of teaching this particular theory to young children and misunderstanding taking root. The children of multiracial households becoming very confused (true story) and questioning things that are too esoteric for a 7 year old to grasp.

    These theories cannot be presented to younger minds as they do not have the framework to understand them as they are meant to be understood. Little kids think skin color is just that (like hair color), unless told otherwise. Let them grow up thinking that everyone is actually equal and when they are in higher grades, let them learn history and the injustices in our world as applied to different groups (Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, and many other groups).

  23. TAKE BACK CONTROL. HOMESCHOOL YOUR CHILDREN.

    THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROPOSES TWO PRIORITIES FOR THE AMERICAN HISTORY AND CIVICS EDUCATION PROGRAMS, including the Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics(Academies) and National Activities programs, Assistance Listing Numbers 84.422A and 84.422B. We may use these priorities for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2021 and later years. 

    WE PROPOSE THESE PRIORITIES TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING AND THE PROMOTION OF INFORMATION LITERACY SKILLS IN GRANTS UNDER THESE PROGRAMS.

    https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/04/19/2021-08068/proposed-priorities-american-history-and-civics-education

    THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE that the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the AMERICAN HISTORY AND CIVICS Academies program published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on July 19, 2021 and closes on August 18, 2021.

    THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PLANS TO AWARD APPROXIMATELY $1.7 MILLION to eligible applicants to support the establishment of academies that will IMPROVE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF AMERICAN HISTORY, GOVERNMENT AND CIVICS FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS. This grant competition contains two absolute priority, one competitive preference priorities and two invitational priority. Please review the published NIA in the Federal Register for complete details on the FY 2021 AHC-A grant competition.

  24. The debate over Critical Race Theory as a threat to kid’s educations was weaponized by a conservative political actor in the wake of the BLM protests of 2020. There were basically no cases of CRT actually impacting K-12 education in any sort of way, but as a result of a diatribe on Tucker Carlson it became the cause celebre for those looking to reject the movement towards looking critically at what brought about the protests against systemic racism.

    I’m strongly opposed to teaching kids graduate level theories in second grade, but do believe that discussing how damaging things like racism and sexism are, that we have failed at eradicating them as a society and that has been bad and that we need to continue to do better in the future is something that we should all stand behind at age-appropriate levels for our kids and the students in our schools.

    This article in the New Yorker I think did a good job at looking underneath the words to the issues that brought it to the forefront in a short, readable format. https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-inquiry/how-a-conservative-activist-invented-the-conflict-over-critical-race-theory

  25. Wow, I’m impressed that most comments here are polite and non-hysterical. As another commenter pointed out, “CRT” is actually a left wing movement among legal scholars, not a K-12 curriculum issue. I think what upsets many parents and educators is so called “Antiracist” staff training, which does filter down into classroom content.

    While most good people are against racism today, some of the elements of Antiracism with a capital A are suspect. Among them is the assertion that attributes such as objectivity, punctuality and respect for the written word are part of “white supremacist culture.”

    (This was in a training session my wife attended, and can be easily found in the online postings of numerous Antiracist trainer/entrepreneurs.)

    I’m sure most parents — Black and white, liberal and conservative — would strongly disagree with this silliness, but public school bureaucrats are afraid to say that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

  26. Echoing India van Voorhees above, these parents fundamentally misunderstand CRT in general and the “insinuations of racism” they perceive in particular. Not all racism is intentional, malicious, or targeted. No one is blaming them for being white. CRT interrogates the structures that systematically oppress minorities, so by definition, it involves trying to understand how different groups have different experiences of the same institutions. These parents would do well to educate themselves on those points, and if they feel threatened by the idea that institutional racism exists, maybe that’s a sign that the things CRT describes are real.

    A school system doesn’t need to explicitly teach CRT to be conscious of it. I’m a white college-educated staples grad (i.e., the definition of privilege), and me learning about CRT didn’t instantiate my privilege or create divide; CRT describes what already existed. It’s not something I was blindly taught but have come to realize being out in the world. So I know that I can’t begin to comprehend some of the realities that minorities experience, but I can at least try. Staples didn’t teach CRT, but it taught me that.

    I applaud Scarice for bringing these issues into light, especially because how unintentional racism affects our world is going to be an important thing for future Staples grads to at least be aware of.

  27. Marxism, hahaha. There is NO legitimate left in this country since Eugene Debs was jailed and persecuted. Ignorance is bliss for American’s, all we need is TV and and junk food to numb our brains to the b.s. narrative’s pushed constantly in the so-called media. The Overton Window is nailed shut and stupid reigns.

  28. We really need to get this indoctrination stuff like CRT out of our schools. We also need to teach the basics of US history and not the BLM or CRT versions. Training children to hate our country with lies about our history is a recipe for future anarchy

  29. Do some research to educate and enlighten, especially demographics; what is the race, age, economic statistics of Westport? What other statistics can be found that open the conversation to open a broader dialog. Not my way or the highway.
    Why is it that when a child comes into a room and people are talking about death or someone about to die, they change the subject or lower their voices? That child some day will also die, heck ain’t no one gettin out of this world alive…why the hush, or change of subject? I believe this to be a similar issue, why not open up the dialog at a younger age? I don’t believe this to be a political issue, more a learning issue of how the world was discovered and a true part of our collective history…to the victors go the writing of history (read the Rape of Nanking). What do you tell these same innocent children when they read about statues being taken down in the south?
    Play nice everyone, we all live on one planet…it would behoove us to get along, learn from our past mistakes in hopes of not repeating the past!

  30. As to the concerns about CRT, please listen to a March 2021 phone discussion between the George Davison, headmaster of Manhattan’s Grace Church School and Paul Rossi (no relation to Westport’s Paul Rossi, to the best of my knowledge), who was a Grace Church School teacher at the time but has since been fired:

    https://wabcradio.com/2021/04/21/east-village-private-school-removes-teacher-criticizing-school-curriculum-of-white-shaming/

    Excerpt below:

    Paul: “Let me ask you something, George, because I think there’s something very different about having a single experience where you make sense of it, right, and having a teacher, an authority figure, talk to you endlessly, every year, telling you, that because you have whiteness you are associated with evils, all these different evils. These are moral evils, it’s not the same as taking, like – a physical thing, because it doesn’t affect your, your moral value. That’s the problem.”

    George: “The… the fact is, that I’m agreeing with you, that there has been a demonization that we need to get our hands around, in the way in which people are doing this understanding.”

    Paul: “OK, so you agree that we are demonizing kids.”

    George: “We are demonizing … ki- – ah, we are demonizing white people for being born.”

    Paul: “OK, so we’re demonizing white kids. Why don’t you just say it?”

    George: “We are using language that makes them feel less than, for nothing that they are personally responsible for.”

    ***********************

    In my view, the money quote is: “We are demonizing white people for being born.”

  31. Perhaps we can come up with a 3/5th compromise to keep the racists and racist adjacent happy.

  32. Here’s an example of the training material I’m discussing — from a very successful Antiracist training entrepreneur named Tema Okun. (In case you’re interested, she happens to be white and Jewish…just like I am.)

    https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.wpha.org/resource/resmgr/health_&_racial_equity/whitesupremacycultureinorgan.pdf

    This piece is actually more nuanced than similar materials shared with me by family members in K-12 education in which the clear takeaway was that you are dissing minority cultures if you expect a paper to be turned in on time, want it to cite printed sources, and make an argument backed up by objective facts.

    Ironically, Ms. Okun has a PhD, which of course is prominently mentioned in her credentials. Even in the softest of the social sciences you can’t earn a doctoral degree if you fail to adhere to these supposedly “white supremacist” rules.

    So…those who argue that the machinations of “Social Justice Warriors” have no impact on the education of our children and grandchildren are not exactly telling the whole story.

  33. The website seems to me to be a decent means to help stay better informed – although information would ideally come from the BOE and school district. As an example, is there a draft for the district’s strategic plan available? I understand one may have been made available to a few, including NYU Metro (see below), but not to all of us?

    I completely agree with public schools teaching history – good, bad, and ugly. Hopefully we learn from the mistakes of others and get better.

    I do not support teaching K-12 “CRT” or whatever it is called. NYU Metro calls it “CRT”, and our school district contracted with NYU Metro to undertake a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) study, complete with recommendations, so at least some folks outside the “group of 37 parents” are calling it that. Here is NYU Metro’s own website so nobody has to take my word for it: https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/metrocenter. They have also been helpful in providing a politicized guide on how to fight people who are against CRT which is spelled out here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5bc5da7c3560c36b7dab1922/t/6126241c56874d4314876f6a/1629889575567/CRT+Toolkit+FINAL+August+2021.pdf

    It seems to me the anonymity on the website on Dan’s post may be less to do with “outside influences” or unseriousness by the concerned parents, than justifiable fear of retribution. In the past 2 years, people who hold certain opinions have found their families and businesses attacked (both online and in person) for expressing those opinions, or in some cases for simply not expressing any opinion at all. In the U.S. we have secret ballots for voting because people may choose to vote more honestly when they don’t believe they are being compelled or threatened. I don’t believe anonymous votes count less than those with names written on them.

    If people disagree with the website, I suggest sharing your opinion and making your voice heard like is being done in these comments. If one agrees with the website, that should be fine in a free society too. If one simply wants more information – the case for many of us with respect to the school district’s NYU Metro DEI study, or the school district’s strategic plan – maybe this is a means to stay better informed.

  34. It is a bit disconcerting that if you sign up for their newsletter, their confirmation page displays the Myrtle Ave. address for town hall.

    I would hope there isn’t subterfuge or advocacy going on, that someone in any official capacity was organizing. It just doesn’t seem right that they decline to operate with transparency.

    • There are some claiming they are apart of the group on social media. So names can be connected. Might make you feel better if you thought that someone / some group not tied to Westport launched the website. If they are sock puppets, then they are highly advanced.

  35. When I saw this post this AM I almost commented. And then I thought, why not wait and see if clear thinking and open minded folks show up and say the right sorts of things about why this kind of curriculum might be needed.

    Rather than just assuming that the usual suspects and reactionary old-timey “get off my lawn/good old days” crew would do their thing in large numbers.

    Well, here at the end of the day, I see how it played out.

    Marxism! Indoctrination! Race-baiters! Harmful to our children!

    But also, plenty of the right kinds of comments that I was hoping to see.

    I won’t reiterate their cogent arguments other than to reinforce the point that
    you can’t possibly teach American history without a discussion of systemic racism. To think otherwise is either hopelessly naïve or willfully ignorant.

  36. Yes! Thank you to all of the people who have taken the time to write thoughtful, informed comments today. It is indeed an important matter. School systems across the nation want to make sure that they are providing well for all students. The word “equity” refers to teaching equitably, to all students. Westport wants to do the same, so they are looking at that aspect with the equity study. Nobody loses. Everybody wins. All students.

    Thank you to the Superintendent and the BOE members who led our district through COVID last year and to the BOE members who also chose to start the Equity Study. It is all about the students.

    I hope for a curriculum that does teach an inclusive history as well. Our town prides itself on being educated. Why would we want our next generation to be ignorant when it comes to race and history? Clearly, our country has a lot of problems with race or we would not be having this conversation. The country is, thankfully, a diverse one. Our town’s students will grow up to take part in that. They need to understand it and make good decisions, work well with people who are not like them and, hopefully, enjoy living in the real world.

    The CRT hysteria was created by political strategists in order to sway the masses to the right. None of this is a mystery.

    Racism tends to attract attention when it’s flagrant and filled with invective. But like all bigotry, the most potent component of racism is frame-flipping — positioning the bigot as the actual victim. So the gay do not simply want to marry; they want to convert our children into sin. The Jews do not merely want to be left in peace; they actually are plotting world take-over. And the blacks are not actually victims of American power, but beneficiaries of the war against hard-working whites. This is a respectable, more sensible bigotry, one that does not seek to name-call, preferring instead to change the subject and straw man. -Ta-Nehisi Coates

    • Stephanie Frankel

      Bravo! Well said! Living in a mostly white and non- diverse community it is even MORE important for my kids to learn about racism and diveristy! My favorite part of Westport is that we have signs up that say “Hate Has No Home Here”. Let’s keep it that way. We stop hate by learning about it.

  37. Please stop soft-peddling CRT. It does not teach “both sides of the issue”. I’ve looked at the recommended curriculum. It pits blacks against whites by saying (read in 1619 as a reference) and I’m paraphrasing…white people of 200-400 years ago were racist and because you are white (you, meaning children in the classroom or you, children of the 21st century) you are inherently racist too. CRT erases the huge progress made against racism and makes no allowances or apologies for it. It’s fine to teach about past racism. It’s not OK to say, “you children are inherently racist and must somehow atone for your “whiteness” because you’re white like the racists of the past” Stop this madness.

    • To borrow a recent social media meme: Tell us you don’t understand CRT without saying you don’t understand CRT.

      I see elsewhere you’re still waiting for the “real story” from the Arizona election audit to come out. I think your time would be better spent there than trying to stir stuff up here based on something you clearly haven’t done your homework on.

      • I’ll let the soon coming indictments around the AZ election audit speak for themselves…

        • John D McCarthy

          Matt, Thanks for the good chuckle.

        • Matthew, the results of the audit were announced a week ago. How did you miss them? You spout nonsense and, when your nonsense is debunked, you don’t even tap the brakes.

          From Reuters coverage:

          “Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, the Republican who paved the way for the so-called “full forensic audit” of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County, said the review’s overall vote tally matched the initial results in November.

          “”Truth is truth, numbers are numbers,” Fann said at a Senate hearing on the review, which found only small variations, yielding 99 additional votes for Biden and 261 fewer votes for Trump. “Those numbers were close, within a few hundred.””

          • The truth is coming out. Only some results of the AZ audit were public. Oh, and so your ok with up to 60,000 ballots having a strong possibility of being fraudulent in an election won by ~11,000? I’m not. More is coming. Stay tuned. Let’s wait and see if there will be any indictments from the AZ attorney General, shall we? And whistleblowers have come forward from the AZ Dem party. Let’s see what they had to say as well. This audit is FAR from over.

      • And this guy doesn’t even live here. He lives in New Jersey.

        • I lived there for 30 years; also I’m in AZ now.

          • Stephanie Frankel

            I know where you can pick up your MAGA hat Matt. No teacher is teaching Trump won buddy! Not one! Enjoy your alternate whitewashed universe.

  38. I had never heard of an “equity audit” until I read about this topic on 06880 yesterday (thanks, Dan!). To educate myself, I looked for info online and found the results of an equity audit performed for the Sartell-St. Stephen, MN School District (population 19,000) during December 2020-March 2021. The audit cost $80,000 and was performed by Equity Alliance Minnesota (EAM). Here is the link to the report:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DO3c5n5HkWslzbVL0mjGU3hmcM8IWwn2/view

    The report doesn’t mention “Critical Race Theory” but “Culturally Responsive Teaching” is mentioned (in particular, see section entitled “Curriculum Represents Equity”). That said, there is no “instruction” as to how to adopt Culturally Responsive Teaching, as far as I could discern. The message seemed to be more about increasing awareness of “the experiences” of all students – in particular, students of color.

    Raising awareness and encouraging understanding of differing backgrounds, cultures, experiences, etc. is always a good thing. I found no hint of indoctrination or “white shaming” mentioned (i.e., from a curriculum perspective) in this report. However, the Sartell-St. Stephen School District subsequently fired EAM because (EAM) reportedly refused to provide the content of the equity survey questionnaires, which were given to students, despite being requested by many parents in the school district.

    It turns out that students were asked questions such as “What gender do you identify with?”

    Here is a video of Haylee Yasgar, who spoke at a Sartell-St. Stephen school board meeting in July, where she described her experience with the equity survey given at her school:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq1hHzSFdHk

    I have transcribed Ms. Yasgar’s comments, below:

    “My name is Haylee Yasgar. I was in fourth grade at Riverview Intermediate School last year. During distance learning, I was asked to complete the equity survey. My teacher said that I could not skip any questions even when I didn’t understand them. One question asked us what gender we identify with. I was very confused along with a lot of other classmates. A boy in my class asked my teacher if his mom could explain the question to him because even after the teacher explained it, he still didn’t understand it. My teacher told him that he was not allowed to ask his mom, and that we could not repeat any of the questions to our parents. I want the school board to know how uncomfortable and nervous this made me. My mom always tells me I can tell her anything, but she also tells me I can trust my teachers, too.
    Being asked to hide this from my mom made me feel very uncomfortable, like I was doing something wrong. Thank you.”

    I have no words to describe my dismay upon hearing this young student’s words. Please, Westport BOE, assure us that the equity survey will be age appropriate, transparent and will not include instructions that a student should answer all questions even if a question is not understood.

    • Stephanie Frankel

      After reading you comment, I asked my 5th grade Long Lots student if she was ever asked about gender identity in school. She said no. She did say that our temple in Wesrport did discuss gender indentity. I am so proud! I could not be happier that my tenple is talking about this important topic and welcoming all people!

  39. Diana B Pils Marino

    I like what the Long Lots parent said. “My wife and I believe that some things are best taught at home and in our church. We want the schools to focus on the academic skills necessary for our children to succeed in a global economy. Equal OPPORTUNITY for all, not equal OUTCOMES! (“Long Lots Elementary School father”) I don’t care that they’re all anonymous because they don’t need an angry mob on their front lawns. Most of my life lessons I use daily came from my parents, church and girl scouts NOT Staples High School or MTV or Tom Hanks. I thought CRT was a course taught in history class but it seems it’s in all classes? I had the same opportunities as my Staples classmates but we don’t all have the same outcomes. I don’t resent that. CRT can be taught in High School when minds are older and can understand not in younger grades. Antiracism is always a good thing to teach and enforce.

    • Stephanie Frankel

      Crt is not taught in elementary schools. Please learn the facts. Ask any Weatport elementary school teacher what they teach about racsim and diversity. They will gladly tell tou.
      What is an equal outcome? Are you talking about everyone getting paid the same salary? I do not know of a course in high school that teaches kids they all deserve the same pay. CRT certainly does not teach that!

  40. Stephanie Frankel

    I had to ask my wife what she thinks.. then speak for her…perhaps we can all agree to go back to the 1950’s!

  41. CRT is not taught in any elementary schools. That anyone believes it is suggests a lack of understanding and ignorance about how the educational system works — and of what CRT actually is. You can easily find school curriculum information on the Westport public schools website. There is no mention of CRT. Also, I would like to point out that this is America, which means that if you don’t like what your kids are being taught, you have the option to remove them from public school or move elsewhere. I, for one, am excited to live in a community that is interested in supporting equity and inclusion in whatever form the experts deem viable. If you are not interested in your children living in an equitable and inclusive society…the question to ask yourselves is “why not?”

  42. Dan, I believe this posting has set a record for responses!

  43. I stand corrected. Maybe it’s the length of the comments that gave me that impression.

  44. Hello, I don’t understand what an NYU equity audit is. this is from the website: “The Culturally Responsive Curriculum Scorecards were designed by the NYU Metro Center to help parents, teachers, students, and community members determine the extent to which their schools’ English Language Art, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) curricula are (or are not) culturally responsive.”
    this lingo is all new to me. I have studied critical theory quite extensively, at Yale critical theory is taught at the undergrad level. CRT, I would gather, is taking the structural apparatus of critical theory and applying that to race; dividing people into racial groups; that it the critique part. It did originate from Marx — doesn’t mean CRT is Marxist however. But what I don’t understand is the “cultural responsiveness” whose culture are they talking about? Westport schools have always gone out of the way to be accommodating to every culture on earth, so my question is what is the BOE trying to flesh out with a cultural scorecard? I don’t get it. What am I missing? Do they want to put people of different races in separate classrooms? or people from different religions will get a different history books? someone fill me in…

    • India van Voorhees

      Cultural responsiveness refers to all cultures that aren’t white.
      It has nothing to do with separation but, rather, inclusiveness.
      I think the notion that cultural responsiveness (and CRT, which is NOT taught in K-12) creates separatism stems from the larger idea that minority races in America are supposed to assimilate into the white race – and that if their cultural differences are acknowledged and honored it somehow isolates them.
      But one can have a separate identity without being segregated.

      Historically, curriculums in the U.S. are centered on white accomplishments. Having a more culturally responsive curriculum is the intention of teaching the accomplishments of Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous people.
      For example (to single out just one culture): we are taught about George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass; we are assigned to read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Tubman, etc.
      But how many of us know who Katherine Johnson is? Dr. Gladys West? That the original idea for vaccinations came from a Black slave to Cotton Mather who told him about the African technique of taking material from infected people and scratching it into the skin of healthy people?
      Why aren’t we taught about Black Wall Street? Why aren’t “Beloved” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” required high school reading across the country?

      Not only does the incorporation of a more inclusive curriculum give a broader education to white students, it provides all other students the study of their own heritages.

      This is a pretty generalized and scanty explanation – but I hope it helps clarify a little bit for you.

      • Thank you for clarifying. Are you affiliated with any of the groups mentioned in Dan’s article?

      • Hi India, love your comment. Are you aware that just such a curriculum exists as you say you would like to see? It is the Woodson Center’s 1776 Unites curriculum for Black History and exists for free download here: https://1776unites.com/our-work/curriculum/download/
        This curriculum was developed solely by “African Americans” with an emphasis on the positive role models that the Black community has and that have been overlooked in our history books. However, it disagrees with the principle of Equity and CRT and prefers to focus on the upliftment of all persons, regardless of race or identity.

    • Hey Todd, I’d like to take a stab at your question, having read through all the NYU Metro on line materials and having been an observer in the Westport Equity meetings with Metro. Metro aligns with SERC (CT Dept of Ed agency that is mandated to supply materials for implementing CRT in CT schools). SERC states: “CRT: 1. strives to advance a social justice framework; 2. explains how race and racism are organized and operate; 3. aims to redress social inequalities; 4. is typically interdisciplinary and embraces multifaceted disciplines and/or research methods; 5. tends to be organized around core questions that reach into several disciplines; 6. draws upon paradigms of intersectionality; and 7. recognizes that race and racism work with and through gender, ethnicity, class, and sexuality as systems of power.” see ttps://ctserc.org/news/2019/critical-race-theory-and-education-serc-s-perspective.
      Metro is one of the organizations tasked as a consulting group to transform schools along CRT /Equity principles. Organizations like Metro (note its full name, “Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools) started doing Equity Studies in order to determine that there were inequities in the schools due to racism, and their mission is to “transform” school systems along the lines of Equity, as opposed to Equal Opportunity. Thus, they all focus on disproportionality between groups of people, regardless of individual differences. This is the relatively new movement in the education academy, ever since other policies failed to close the achievement gap in schools. The failure of schools to close the large test score gaps between racial groups led educators to focus on racism as the cause, despite the fact that there are many more significant reasons for the gap, like hours spent doing homework and whether students had parental/community support for academic achievement. All of a sudden, the focus shifted from a perspective of helping individual students to helping “marginalized” students as a group, regardless of diversity within such groups and regardless of differing socio-economic circumstances. It coincided with the movement of “don’t blame the victim.” However, many black educators disagree with this approach and point to the problem of race based stereotypes and the poor methodology used by Metro in its studies.. See Ian Rowe, a long time black educator and author and member of the Pelham, NY BOE, who criticized the Metro study for Pelham, NY, which is similar to ours: https://pelhamexaminer.com/31398/letters-to-the-editor/outlines-areas-of-concern-with-divisive-conclusions-in-pelham-school-districts-racial-equity-audit/. My take-away from his letter to the editor was this statement: “”The obsession with closing race-based disparities can often be a race to an average outcome versus the pursuit of excellence for every scholar.”

      • Thank you for clarifying the concepts we are dealing with. You have a wonderful writing style!!!

        • Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

          This entire thread has been fascinating to read.

          Our country is in trouble.

          The societal division over the last couple of decades is devastating and will haunt us for years to come.

          Most of our elected ‘public servants’ in DC have become untouchable ideologues with no transparency or concern for the American public but only for their corporate owners and their personal bank balances.

          In every new ‘movement’ like these being discussed just follow the money and it will become obvious why they are being promoted.

  45. Given the website and a number of comments here imply that what’s being taught is somehow a deep secret, it seems worth pointing out that classrooms, like the Westport ones I taught in for fourteen years, are more transparent than they have ever been in American history.

    District websites, including Westport’s, provide extensive course descriptions and curriculum guides. Parents have access to students’ online gradebooks so they can see, 24/7, what assignments students are completing in every class. They have access 24/7 to online assignment books (Google Classroom, Schoology, etc.) with links to readings, materials, assignments, assessments, and more for every class. They have the ability to call teachers on private lines or email them 24 hours a day to ask questions. Classrooms are not the “black box” they were decades ago.

    There are no secrets. But we must ask who benefits when people pretend or believe that schools and teachers are keeping them. It’s dangerous.

    The administrators and teachers in Westport are highly intelligent, devoted, thoughtful, evolving professionals who care about the children in their care. And I never stumbled across a secret Marxist there.

  46. Thank you for clarifying. Are you affiliated with any of the groups mentioned in Dan’s article?

  47. Maybe these parents would be happier living in York, Pennsylvania:
    https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/15/us/book-ban-controversy-pennsylvania/index.html

  48. The issue isn’t the equitable teaching of our past – good and bad – the ruckus is about the new overemphasis on the bad from the past, the overemphasis on the current white people still to blame for it and the ridiculous emphasis on the needed division between minorities and whites and finally, the lack of acknowledgement (and much needed) praise for the incredible progress we’ve made on equality between all races. The emphasis on division within CRT teaching is the real racism and bigotry of today.

  49. Whether or not residents of Westport believe racism to be a problem, the lived experience of students and others as shared in the last year should be enough to convince us racism needs to be addressed. We don’t know what we don’t know and no one should be afraid of learning more. No one is talking about turning Westport’s curriculum upside down; we simply need to expand the discussion to include everyone. Teaching our nation’s history in its unvarnished truth can only help heal the racist events of our past. No one should be afraid to learn more. I applaud the efforts of Superintendent Scarice and the district for their efforts to create a more equitable learning environment.

  50. Oh please, everyone opposed to CRT is a “right-wing nut job”. Sounds more like you fear the truth being shown about CRT and divisions it propagates

  51. Michael Mossman

    Sure, its been this demon CRT that propagates divisions in our society. How did I miss that? Not, racial discrimination, persistent inequality in how some police departments deal with their citizens, the long term economic effects of unequal access to mortgages through real estate red lining, culture war fear mongering on cable “infotainment” and social media, conspiracy mongers who get their truth on the internet from the mysterious Q…

    Its not these things themselves, its TALKING about them that is the problem! Yes! As long as people just accept bigotry in silence then there is no problem! So simple!

    And CRT, that’s a perfect trope to talk about so we don’t need to talk about the attack on our democracy lie the January 6th insurrection and political theater in counting and recounting ballots, that only prove again and again our election was free and fair.

    And of course! Hunter Biden! That’s a real burning issue, not wildfires, floods, Covid misinformation and anti-vax/anti-mask trolls, housing shortages, our economy, sensible and orderly immigration… Real inquisitive people want to know about Hunter Biden and CRT! But they are not really “right wing nut jobs.” They just play them on 06880.

    Lions and Tigers and CRT… Oh my!

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