A Florida school board voted Wednesday to remove a call to dismantle “structures rooted in white advantage” from its “equity statement” after hundreds of parents complained that the language was divisive and racist, The Palm Beach Post reported.
The School District of Palm Beach County’s school board convened Wednesday to consider revising the statement they finalized in early May, which drew backlash from parents. They voted 4-3 to change the statement, according to The Palm Beach Post.
“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 read, in part. (RELATED: School Might Backpedal On ‘Equity Statement’ Calling To Dismantle ‘White Advantage’ After Parents Say ‘It Incites Racism’)
Board member Karen Brill made the suggestion a week earlier that the phrase be removed because it became “evident” that it was not helpful, but “harmful,” noting the outpouring of complaints from parents.
The board also voted to replace the word “redistributing” in the statement that was updated to say the school is committed to “distributing resources to provide equitable outcomes,” according to The Palm Beach Post.
During the Wednesday meeting, 70 parents and community leaders were split over the proposal to eliminate the phrase. Some of the parents who were in the opposition condemned the phrasing for its political implications.
“You mention dismantling white advantage, which is an opinion,” Amanda Silvestri, a district parent, previously told the board. “None of this despicable, political, racist nonsense should be pushed on innocent children and has absolutely no business being taught in schools.”
Cindy Eldred, another parent, rejected the notion that her children should feel guilty for their skin color.
“My children will never be taught to be ashamed of or apologize for who they are because of their skin color,” she said at Wednesday’s meeting, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Speakers at the meeting expressed that the phrase indicated that the school was trying to implement Marxist ideas or critical race theory (CRT) into classrooms.
“I think we all agree on a need for equality and the importance of advocating for all children, this is not equity,” one parent said.
“Equity is rooted in Marxism and the mission statement is filled with the exact same jargon as other radical school districts like Beaverton not focused on academic achievement but rather social justice.”
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet teaches students 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.
Others at the meeting said the use of “white advantage” in the statement was necessary for acknowledging racial inequality.
“Naming white advantage is good for all of our students, even our white students,” Meagan Bell, a parent and education activist, said, according to The Palm Beach Post.
While some board members voted to change the statement because it was distracting and polarizing, three board members opposed the effort.
Alexandria Ayala, one of the board members, called the opposition to the phrasing “disrespectful displays of people who clearly missed the point,” according to The Palm Beach Post. A week earlier, Ayala expressed disappointment in the prospect of changing the “equity statement,” and said “confronting racism is uncomfortable.”
“We can’t back up when we have some little resistance right out of the gate,” Ayala reportedly said. “We have to do the hard work now of committing to what we said, to what we all agreed to.”
Debra Robinson, another board member, reportedly said the board has to do “what’s right, not necessarily what’s popular.”
Board member Erica Whitfield also opposed the retraction.
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.