A Vermont school district voted Tuesday to adopt an “equity policy” that will begin “anti-racist” and LGBTQ education in pre-kindergarten, WCAX reported.
The Essex Westford School Board reportedly voted 8-1 for the policy, which says the U.S. “would not have evolved as it has without the genocide of the indigenous people,” nor would it have its economic infrastructure “without the enslavement of native African people and their descendants.”
After Intense Debate, Essex Westford School Board Approves Equity Policy | Off Message https://t.co/Chg5j1BiHC
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) June 16, 2021
One of the goals of the “equity policy” is to inform curriculum decisions.
“Anti-racist education and LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual, +) affirming education” will be given to educators and their students beginning in pre-kindergarten, the policy said.
The policy notes the impact of “systemic inequity” and “oppression,” both terms that are defined in the district’s “equity policy glossary.” “Systemic inequities” are defined as “outcomes that occur when the fabric of organizations, institutions, governments or social networks contains an embedded bias which provides advantages for some members and marginalizes or produces disadvantages for other members.”
The school board faced criticism over the policy, with some people saying it excluded white children and that the policy distinguishes students by skin color.
“You’re teaching kids that they will never accomplish anything if you hold their hand,” Caitlin Gregory, who attended the meeting, said, according to WCAX. “All kids should be equal. If they need extra help, they should get it, and it’s awful and it’s all about skin color.”
Brendan Kinney, an Essex Westford school board member, rebuked those who criticized the policy, and accused them of “using the children of our community as pawns in your culture war.”
“Historically, the work of school boards has been apolitical, yet in recent months we’ve seen partisan tactics used to promote a political agenda,” Kinney said, according to WCAX.
The policy also indicates that the school will be using “affinity groups” for marginalized students and staff. A Massachusetts school district is facing a civil rights complaints from a parents advocacy group for hosting a similar “affinity space,” which allegedly segregated students by race and did not welcome students who identified only as white.
Liz Candy, the lone “no” vote for the Vermont school board, has previously spoken out about the policy’s basis in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and said that the policy is divisive.
“I believe this is almost like our second merger, where everybody seems polarized on one side or the other. I do have reservations. The background in this policy is written explicitly where I think it’s very hard to unite people,” Cady said, according to WCAX.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist and 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.
Numerous school boards across the country have faced community members and parents who are concerned that CRT is being taught to their children. In many cases, schools have implemented an “equity policy” that draws some of its features from CRT.
A week prior to the Essex Westfield School Board vote, 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.” (RELATED: ‘You Will Be Voted Out’: Former School Board Member Warns District About Promoting Critical Race Theory Without Involving Public)
The proposal at the Pennsylvania district 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.”
In Florida, parents in one district pushed the school board to remove the term “white advantage” from its “equity statement” after parents rebuked the phrase as divisive and racist, and accused the school of inappropriately imparting personal political opinions.