school committee unanimously rejects resident’s resolution on critical race theory | Where is
WEST – The school committee, after about five hours of public commentary, voted unanimously on Wednesday to reject a resolution that supporters say would protect students from the indoctrination of their teachers’ political views and teach them to believe it. which they claimed to be aspects of critical race theory. .
Opponents of the resolution said it would distort history lessons and lead to a ban on books. The critical race theory, that race is a social construct and that racism permeates U.S. laws and institutions, is not taught in city schools, opponents of the resolution said.
Speakers both for the resolution and against received applause, but if the volume of the applause can be used as a measure, opponents easily outnumbered supporters in the audience of 80, standing only at the inside and outside the Council Chamber at Town Hall. Those who spoke included current students from the district, former students, teachers, parents and members of the Westerly Anti-Racism Coalition. Administrators, including all school principals in the district, submitted written statements indicating that they opposed the resolution and supported key district leaders.
Several black and Métis residents, some recent graduates of Westerly High School, spoke about their difficult experiences growing up in the city and attending schools in the city. Two speakers questioned the veracity of the testimonies provided by former students.
The resolution was submitted to the school committee by Robert Chiaradio, a resident who for several months appeared before the committee claiming that the principles of critical race theory are taught in the city’s public schools. The resolution aimed to “ban the teaching of concepts of division” related to race and gender.
Colleen Saila, President of the Westerly Teachers Association, said that instead of teaching radical social concepts, “what we encourage is critical thinking in our students. In history, social studies and civics, we objectively present to students the good, the bad and the ugly of our past so that we can build a better and brighter future. Our students need to learn from the times when this country has kept its promises and when it hasn’t, because honest truth and honest truth in education is what our students deserve. “
Sienna Fusaro, who will be in her final year at Westerly High School in the fall, said students received in-depth, fact-based lessons on a range of subjects.
“I’ve never been forced to think a certain way. To claim that Westerly High School is indoctrinating me to hate America or myself as a white person is absolutely unfounded,” Fusaro said.
Kayla Kennedy, a 2018 graduate of Westerly High School, opposed the resolution and described a struggle growing up as a black child in the city. She said the resolution was aimed at ensuring that “marginalized people remain underrepresented and inferior. They want us to disappear, but we refuse to make it happen again. I sincerely hope you will take my first-hand account of the force of racism in the West. School district into account. “
Many speakers said Chiaradio’s resolution was linked to Republicans, Donald Trump and a national effort to promote a program while disrupting and distracting school boards. Anne Pearce, a resident of the town and a member of the Westerly Anti-Racism Coalition, said the resolution was part of a handbook promoted by groups such as the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing conservative rights organization Christian. She called the resolution “an effort to substitute political mandates for the judgment of professional educators, hampering students’ ability to learn and engage in critical thinking through differences and disagreements. Our students deserve free and open exchange. about our history and the forces that shape our world today, ”said Pearce.
Chiaradio, who is the brother of Westerly School Committee chairwoman Diane Chiaradio Bowdy, said the school district had fallen into the grip of the “hard left”.
“Western public schools, like so many districts in Rhode Island and across the country, have fallen victim to the hard left awakened, seemingly abandoning and forgetting all the great qualities of this country in favor of tearing the very fabric of our great country, ”Chiaradio said.
Shirley Lemay, a city resident and relative who said she was of Puerto Rican descent, spoke out in favor of the resolution and said many of her supporters were afraid to speak out for fear of being reprimanded or treated of racists.
Carmella Sammataro, a reading and English teacher who serves as the school district’s English-language arts coordinator, said teachers were vilified and slandered during months of “politically-fueled” discussion of Critical Theory of the race.
“Do those who support the petition really believe that these professionals lack the ability to respect different points of view and facilitate a conversation to include all points of view? Sammataro said.
School committee member Robert Cillino noted the number of students, teachers and administrators who have repeatedly said that the concepts Robert Chiaradio claims to be taught are not taught in schools in the district.
“There is no conspiracy that permeates the entire school system – teachers, students, families, administration, school committee – that tries to cover up critical race theory. It just isn’t not there, ”Cillino said.
Cillino and other members of the school committee called on residents to come together to help teachers and administrators focus on education and other student needs.
Diane Chiaradio Bowdy said Superintendent of Schools Mark Garceau, Deputy Superintendent of Schools Alicia Storey and the school committee had suffered months of attacks since her brother first addressed the committee in October.
“Something I would like to believe started as a real concern for the students has evolved into something else. In contrast, the superintendent, deputy superintendent, staff and school committee continue to serve the best interests of the students. all day and every day We “It’s about building our community and our country, not tearing it down, which is exactly what I see happening here,” said Chiaradio Bowdy.
Chiaradio Bowdy and Cillino were joined by school committee members Michael Ober, Marianne Nardone, Giuseppe Gencarelli and Rebecca Fowler to vote against the resolution. School committee member Christine Cooke did not attend the meeting.