A former school board member warned a Pennsylvania district about pushing an “equity policy” without public involvement after the school faced backlash from parents who called it “Marxist propaganda,” WFMZ reported Monday.
Randolph Blatt, a former board member at Wilson School District, advised the board to be more transparent after state Rep. Jim Cox reportedly spread “misinformation” about the proposed policy.
“All I can say is that you better get the public involved in this because if you don’t, you will be voted out,” Blatt said. “You had no intentions of getting the public involved until recently because of Cox’s letter,” he said, according to WFMZ.
The proposal would “address, eliminate, and prevent actions, decisions and outcomes that result from discrimination and inequity,” and “enlist support of experts and stakeholders to assist school leaders in examining equity practices,” among other measures, according to WFMZ.
A second reading of the policy was pulled from Monday night’s school board meeting due to backlash by community members. Some parents criticized the school board during the Monday meeting, calling it critical race theory (CRT).
It was unclear what Cox’s letter said. He and school board member Steph Kocher were contacted for details, but did not respond in time for publication.
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.
Often, CRT is incorporated into schools through diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies that prioritize equal outcomes among students instead of equal treatment.
The school’s first reading of the policy, which was conducted in mid-May, included definitions of “equity lens,” “educational equity audit,” “implicit bias” and “opportunity gaps.”
“There is a line between parenting and academics,” Heidi Zerbe told the board during the meeting, according to WFMZ. “Our tax dollars are being given to the Wilson School District with the assumption that you are preparing our children for the world of jobs. To spread gender confusion and racial bias, in my opinion, is abusive.”
Zerbe said “we are not racists” and rebuked the equity policies as “racist” for teaching children to only view the world through the lens of race and sex.
“Teaching a young white male adolescent that if he achieves anything, it is not because he worked hard but it’s because of his gender and color of skin — how is that building him up?” she asked. “If you tell young Black adolescents that they can’t achieve because they are oppressed, how is that building them up to achieve greatness?”
Carla Mannix, an employee at Alvernia University, said during the meeting that she approved of an “equity task force” to help carry out lessons on racism and “build an inclusive society,” according to WFMZ.
Board Solicitor John Miravich said there is no CRT in the school’s policy, according to WFMZ. Kocher explained the school’s definition of “equity,” and said the proposed policy would achieve the state’s standards for social studies.
“As a district, we define educational equity as when educational policies, practices, interactions and resources are representative of, constructed by and responsive to all people so that each individual has access to, meaningfully participates in and has a positive outcome from high-quality learning experiences, regardless of an individual’s characteristics and group memberships.”
Wilson School District is located in eastern Pennsylvania, approximately 7 miles from Reading.
School boards across the country have faced backlash from parents over similar policies, which critics have aligned with CRT, but that school boards have sought to characterize as standard diversity initiatives.
In Florida, parents in one district pushed the school board to remove the term “white advantage” from its “equity statement” after district parents rebuked the phrase as divisive and racist, and accused the school of inappropriately imparting personal political opinions. (RELATED: School Might Backpedal On ‘Equity Statement’ Calling To Dismantle ‘White Advantage’ After Parents Say ‘It Incites Racism’)
A PAC launched in May will also specifically focus on aiding school board candidates who reject the introduction of CRT at public schools, as many states have passed laws limiting or banning the teaching of CRT in public schools.