A public school district in Florida will reconsider its “equity statement” after parents criticized its call to dismantle “structures rooted in white advantage,” the Palm Beach Post reported Friday.
The School District of Palm Beach County will convene Wednesday to consider revising the statement they finalized May 5, according to the Palm Beach Post.
PBC school board may retract its vow to dismantle ‘white advantage’ after outcry https://t.co/hsVIoNcFyp
— The Palm Beach Post (@pbpost) May 21, 2021
The “equity statement” was posted on the district’s website and some schools reportedly sent copies of the statement home with students. But since the statement was finalized, district parents have reportedly rebuked it as divisive and racist, and have accused the school of inappropriately imparting personal political opinions.
“The School District of Palm Beach County is committed to dismantling racism and other systems of oppression and inequity. We will create equitable and inclusive schools that ensure students have what they need to be successful in school and life,” the statement reads, in part.
The statement continues:
Achieving racial equity requires proactive and continuous investment in historically marginalized groups who have endured centuries of systemic oppression. The School District of Palm Beach County is committed to dismantling structures rooted in white advantage and transforming our system by hearing and elevating under-represented voices, sharing power, recognizing and eliminating bias, and redistributing resources to provide equitable outcomes.
One mother of two students told board members at a Wednesday meeting that the statement indicates school leaders and teachers are viewing students by their skin color.
“Your statement is dividing us, and it incites racism,” Jessica Martinez said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Being a parent of both a Hispanic and a Caucasian student, this equity statement leads me to believe you’re viewing my children’s academics by the color of their skin or their ethnic background.”
Another parent reportedly told the board she wouldn’t allow her children “to continue their education in a school district that promotes racism.”
“Equity, as you are calling it, is a political view and it is racist,” Amanda Silvestri reportedly said. “You mention dismantling white advantage, which is an opinion. None of this despicable, political, racist nonsense should be pushed on innocent children and has absolutely no business being taught in schools.”
Board member Karen Brill proposed that the board consider revising the “equity statement” at the next meeting and said removing the “structures rooted in white advantage” line would not weaken the district’s position, according to the Palm Beach Post.
“It is evident that a few of the words are not helpful and in fact are harmful,” Brill reportedly said, noting the backlash from parents.
School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri said the statement was being “widely misinterpreted,” and that it was intended to reflect the district’s commitment to offsetting the impact of inequities between children, according to the Palm Beach Post.
“I think it’s important that we understand that was the purpose of the equity statement,” Barbieri reportedly said. “It wasn’t to make it a Black-and-white issue, which is what the perception now is.”
Other board members said they were disappointed at the prospect of a statement reversal, according to the Palm Beach Post.
“Confronting racism is uncomfortable,” Alexandria Ayala reportedly said.
“As soon as we get criticism and feedback, folding under the pressure instead of analyzing how we could’ve done a better job to give clear direction to our administration is not the option,” Ayala added.
Board member Debra Robinson said she knew some people wouldn’t like the statement, but thought the board had agreed upon it, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Numerous public schools across the country have adopted similar “equity” efforts that focus on dismantling “white privilege.” The initiatives are often part of a school’s “antiracism” program, which draws influence from critical race theory (CRT).
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet teaches individuals to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
The largest public school district in Washington state, Seattle Public Schools, reportedly trained white teachers to “bankrupt their privilege” by focusing on social justice in the classroom. (RELATED: REPORT: Public School District Holds Training Instructing White Teachers On How To ‘Bankrupt’ Their ‘Privilege’)
In early May, Virginia’s largest public school system asked parents and community members about their thoughts on how the school should approach teaching “anti-racism” in the classroom. Participants were asked whether the district’s curriculum “should teach students how to challenge power and privilege in society,” and whether teachers should offer students “ways to take action against racial and social injustice.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) says he opposes teaching critical race theory in Florida public schools:
“Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other … It’s also based on false history.” pic.twitter.com/THFiFXVvkZ
— The Recount (@therecount) May 21, 2021
Numerous states have moved to ban the teaching of CRT in public schools. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has called on the state’s Board of Education to address CRT, which he said was offensive to taxpayers forced to fund a program that teaches children to hate each other and their country.