Letter: Rebbutal to Dr. Bindelglass’s Op-Ed

Critical Race Theory in the Easton and Redding Schools

To the Editor:

It has never been the contention of Save Our Towns/Save Our Schools that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is being taught academically by teachers in the Easton and Redding Schools. We have never said that CRT is being taught here the way it is taught at colleges and in teacher training programs. Our opponents unfairly distort our position.

What we have been saying is that the CONCEPTS OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY ARE BEING APPLIED TO THE SCHOOLS, driven by the “woke work” of the Easton Redding Region 9 Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and some of the teacher training.

A local educator returned from a Professional Development Seminar and reported to the DEI task force that they had discussed how to teach Spanish in a “gender neutral way”, given the linguistic bias of the gender connotating articles “el” and “la”. This idea reflects a Critical Theory perspective on language.

If you have attended ER9 DEI Task Force Meetings or have the time to watch the recordings (Er9.org/Community/Joint Task Force DEI/Link to agendas), ask yourself how often you have heard or do you hear CRT phrases like “Systemic Racism”, “White Privilege”, and “Implicit Bias” spoken in relationship to our schools? The answer is a lot.

Systemic Racism means that racism and oppression are consciously and unconsciously woven into the fabric of our institutions. Because implicit bias is built in, corrective measures are needed to “raise awareness” and reform people and institutions. This is a foundational assumption of CRT.

If these concepts were not being applied to our schools, then why did the three ER9 School Boards have to debate for two hours before finally deciding to strike the words “equity” and “systemic racism” from the School System Inclusion Statement drafted and proposed to them by DEI Task Force?

If Critical Race Theory Concepts are not being applied to ER9 schools, then why are we asking our teachers whether they “believe that systemic racism exists” and whether “systemic racism exists in their communities” (our schools and towns) in the current DEI Teacher survey (question #9, Er9.org/Community/Joint Task Force/Minutes/agendas/ DEI Surveys)

Our opponents deliberately gloss over the distinction between the formal teaching of CRT doctrine, (WHICH WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT) and ignore the importation of CRT’s tenets, principles, teaching practices, interpretations, assumptions, and reform demands into the minds of the teachers, the administrators and the schools (WHICH WE ARE TALKING ABOUT) under the rubric of “social justice”.

We ask our opponents to stop distorting our position and debate what we are saying.

Dana Benson
Kathy Kuhn
Co-Chairmen
Save Our Towns/Save Our Schools

Below is a timeline of events leading up to the creation of the ER9 DEI Task Force:

May 20, 2020
George Floyd killed.

June 23, 2021
500 Barlow Students and Alumni sign and send a petition along with a 52-page document titled “Action Steps and Curriculum Guide: Addressing Systemic Racism at Joel Barlow High School” to Superintendent McMorran, the Barlow Head of School and the ER9 Board of Education.

The petition demanded, among many other things that Er9 to “Create a Social Justice Task Force to implement and build upon the suggestions included within this proposal.” The petition also stated: “A note about this proposal: privilege, racism, and oppression exist. That is an undeniable fact.”

July 20, 2020
ER9 Joint Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is formed (funded with $45,000 of surplus funds around this time).

8/12/2020
Dr Rydell Harrison resigns his position with Watertown School System

8/27/2020
Dr. Rydell Harrison starts as Easton Superintendent

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