I applaud the WVCSD Superintendent and BOE for their work to continue meaningful conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as their recruitment of Dr. Gess LeBlanc for aiding in this process.
I wish to add to the thoughtful and truthful letters this past week supporting equity, in response to the deeply unsettling ad on page 3 of the March 5 Warwick Advertiser. I will start with some factual definitions of what CR-S Education is.
According to NYSEd.gov, “Culturally responsive-sustaining (CR-S) education is grounded in a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple expressions of diversity (e.g., race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability) are recognized and regarded as assets for teaching and learning.”
The “Warwick Parents for Common Sense” group, represented only by the name of Maurice Luftig, falsely accused the “woke mob” of Warwick of going behind their backs and “strategically pressuring” Superintendent Leach.
As a parent and a resident of Warwick, the best way I can respond is to say that this group should ask themselves these questions:
Why do you not believe your BIPOC and LGBTQIA neighbors when they speak of what they experience?
How would it feel to not have your history taught in school? Or to hear a watered down, misrepresented and outright inaccurate version of your history?
How would it feel if your culture’s achievements and contributions to American history were not acknowledged or discussed in school? To have your history, which is American history, only appreciated and discussed 28 days out of the year?
It is easy and comfortable to ignore what is happening to others. It is easy to say, “this isn’t happening to me or my family, therefore it is not my problem.” If that is the case, please think about these next questions:
How would it feel to have someone come to your neighborhood and say they were going to burn your houses down? To see that threat on social media? What would it feel like to see symbols of hate toward you and graffiti tagging known hate groups on our town property?
How would it feel to have the most hurtful, appalling slur hurled at you in public or used toward you and others in social media posts? Would you be able to feel safe knowing that your race/gender/sexuality or religion was being poorly represented, and even insulted in other homes?
If equality is being adequately covered in our schools and neighbors’ homes, then why do threats still occur, which make our students and their families feel unsafe, undervalued, and ignored?
CR-S is about respect, inclusivity, empathy, care and compassion. The drive for equity comes from the love borne of seeing no one as a stranger. Equity means saying, “Racism and bigotry are not acceptable in any form, people must be treated fairly. This is not who we are as a community.”
If you are someone who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ, this is literally the love that He taught: to put others before ourselves, to treat others as we would want to be treated.
This is not political. Human rights are not political. We cannot heal as a country without equity in our schools.
By meeting the needs of all students, we improve the entire classroom environment, make our students feel safer, improve emotional regulation, set an example of how everyone should be treated, and show our town and society how important equity is.
All our children, especially our BIPOC and LGBTQIA neighbors, deserve exponential growth in equity, not baby steps. Our schools are the single-most impactful institutions able to promote this compassion and connection, which will help our society as a whole.