“06880” Podcast: Thomas Scarice On Critical Race Theory

Last April, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice was the first guest on my “06880” podcast. He spoke eloquently about his background, the Westport school system, and education in general.

This week he visited the Westport Library again. This time, we chatted about one specific topic: Critical Race Theory.

CRT has generated a lot of controversy, nationally and locally. The town’s chief education official discusses where it came from, what it is, and how it impacts the Westport schools.

Click below to watch.

11 responses to ““06880” Podcast: Thomas Scarice On Critical Race Theory

  1. We’re lucky to have such a thoughtful and forward-looking Superintendent. Really interesting conversation and I think cuts right to the core of both teaching our kids and having them be our role models in the future.

  2. I echo Clark’s sentiments. We are also lucky to have candidates, such as Jonathan Steinberg and Candice Savin, who stand up and condemn this misinformation by a small anonymous group in town. They showed true leadership by immediately condemning the fear mongering and standing up for our wonderful superintendent and world-class educators. Jonathan and Candice represent Westport’s values, and they will always stand up for what is right for our children, our educators and our whole town. No other campaign has released a statement..

  3. Good morning, all – This Saturday, Board of Ed member Becky Hamman has invited Michael Breen to come speak on CRT at the Ferguson Library in Stamford: please, please take a moment to read his letter to the editor to see his narrow-minded, fear-based take. https://www.laconiadailysun.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/michael-breen-critical-race-theory-is-a-cult-like-form-of-racism/article_36a5de94-c3eb-11eb-8474-fb8e0c12eb86.html

    I am shocked and so disappointed that this is taking place in Fairfield County. I have reached out to Becky and to the library to express my concern and would love your support if you are similarly disturbed by this. Becky’s email is bbhamman@optonline.net, and the Ferguson Library’s main number is 203-964-1000. Thank you so much.

    • Mara: If I may ask, did you “express your concern” to the Ferguson Library and/or Becky Hamman by requesting that Mr. Breen not be allowed to speak at the Ferguson Library? Or did you ask that the Ferguson Library also include a speaker who is in favor of CRT?

    • Stephanie Frankel

      I am disgusted this person is on our school board!

  4. Elaine, your last question is disingenuous, since CRT is NOT BEING TAUGHT IN ANY CT SCHOOLS OR ANY SCHOOLS ACROSS THE NATION, so why have a speaker to discuss a pro-CRT opinion. Nobody really understands what CRT is. It is a graduate level law class that explores if institutional racism exists in America. The nuances and concepts taught in law schools over this theory are not part of any curriculum in Stamford, Westport or any city/towns in the state of CT. This is a boogeyman topic to instill fear into having us all vote for Republicans. The library and the board of ed member that invited this radical fearmonger to speak should be ashamed of themselves.

    • I have to point out that CRT is the basis of the SERC developed mandated course on African American history for all CT high schools. The 279- page curriculum is free on line and must be used unless the BOE of the district in question substitutes a different curriculum. SERC acknowledges in a June 15, 2021 statement that CRT, the theory, informs its pedagogy and how it trains teachers to present materials in class and which texts, handouts, worksheets to use: “We learned that 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.” https://ctexaminer.com/2021/06/16/critical-race-theory-and-education-sercs-perspective/. Regarding this particular curriculum, designed to be the first of succeeding curricula to follow in the coming few years, teachers are told to have the class analyze each unit through the lens of Race,Power and Privilege. The final three units of the class contain instructions for the students to be activists in their communities, using the principles of Race,Power and Privilege that they have learned about in the prior units.

    • Michael: Did you listen to Dan’s interview with Mr. Scarice? At the 21:36 mark, Mr. Scarice says, “The ‘what we teach’ around CRT that is coming into question the most is the teaching of history, I believe.” I understand that there is no set curriculum for CRT. My questions concern the ideology behind CRT, and the methods that schools may adopt to introduce CRT to students.

      Westport is fortunate to have Mr. Scarice at the helm. I liked that he said, “You can be proud of you country and still confront the truth and reality [of its past],” and “[He embraces the idea that] a very talented teacher can construct a lesson in active conversation where ideas are exchanged in civil ways,” among many other beliefs. He stressed the importance that all students need to feel safe in the classroom. With this in mind, I don’t believe Mr. Scarice would ever support an ideology that separates students into groups by ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and/or skin color, and attaches labels such as “oppressor” and “oppressed group” to them, as some metro NYC schools have done:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/06/23/teacher-pushes-back-against-k-12-critical-race-theory-indoctrination/

      Link below to a June 2021 four-minute video by a Dwight-Englewood teacher who resigned from a “job she loves” because the school’s orthodoxy “creates deep divisions among our diverse population, destroying any chance at a true and unified learning community,”:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW1un7xzu1M

  5. I would have liked to have heard from Mr. Scarice why, given that he wants to see students introduced to a wide range of ideas, he has current Black authors on the Left, like Kendi and Stamped from the Beginning, on the reading list, but not any of the great Black conservative writers like the brilliant economist and historian Thomas Sowell. The social studies seem to skew very Left, thus not exposing kids to a wide range of thinking. Likewise, the Westport Library, that hosted this event, leans very Left. Given the stated desire to encourage our kids to think critically, I wonder why more conservative thinkers are never represented. Why does the Library see fit to host TEAM Westport events and promote books that TEAM chooses, but never host more conservative Black thought leaders, like Sowell, Shelby Steele, John McWhorter, etc. When I approached the Library about hosting a talk with Ian Rowe, a well-known black educator who was CEO of Public Prep Charter schools in NYC, the Library found him too controversial, (conservative?). Rowe is on the BOE of Pelham, NY, which has undergone an equity study with NYU Metro similar to our Equity Study and he would have been an excellent speaker to address issues raised by our Equity Study which is of such great interest in Westport. Although the Library partners with TEAM and offers TEAM space at the Library for any events and book clubs, it did not feel it could host an event with Ian Rowe unless it had experts that opposed his views, despite the fact that it has been hosting TEAM for years. Why does a Left/Progressive view get full support and yet well regarded conservative thinkers have to meet a different standard? It seems that Westport Schools and the town in general are hostile to conservative thought, regardless of credentials, especially so when they are highly regarded African Americans, as if their views are threatening to the orthodox views of many in the community. I suggest that we are doing our kids and community a disservice by not encouraging dialogue and presenting different view points.

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