Equity, Fairness & Honesty in Our Schools

by Kesha R. Hinsdale, September 23rd, 2021.


Dear Neighbors,


As I have mentioned in previous updates, I am proud to co-chair the Legislative Social Equity Caucus with Rep. Kevin "Coach" Christie of Hartford. We are one of the larger caucuses in the legislature and we aim to root out institutionalized inequality and institutionalize equity and inclusion through policy and statewide dialogue.


We have watched with concern as a national movement to roll back values of equity, fairness, and honesty in education has found its way to Vermont under the guise of an important, though advanced legal framework known as Critical Race Theory (CRT). As Secretary of Education Dan French has stated in a letter to the Springfield School Board: "If you are concerned about CRT being taught in your schools, I think the first step should be to determine if it is actually being taught in your schools, not to adopt a position statement developed in another state based on coordinated, national advocacy."


Teaching tolerance, equity, inclusion, and justice in our schools is not political, and our educators and students need to be protected from political interference, especially during an ongoing pandemic where our first concern should be student safety and well-being. We, therefore, released a statement on behalf of the Social Equity Caucus that I wanted to share with you:


Vermont Legislative Social Equity Caucus Calls for Honest and Complete Teaching of United States History in Schools


"Montpelier, VT - Vermont's Legislative Social Equity Caucus encourages Vermonters to challenge a growing narrative coming from outside of our borders that is deliberately using fear and division to threaten our world-class education system. Teachers and school board members are being harassed at their homes and at district meetings as they work to support student health, well-being, and societal understanding.


As our educators engage students in conversations about addressing institutionalized and systemic racism in Vermont, there is a growing national movement gaining ground in Vermont that seeks to install an outdated and dishonest version of history in its place. We are developing the strength and muscle as a people to learn from our past, to listen and tell stories that are as diverse as our nation's origins and to use that knowledge to build a future in Vermont that is based in equity and inclusivity.


This is a moment of great opportunity for our state and nation, to learn and create a better future. We cannot stay oblivious to the facts of the past and deny that history, if we hope to learn from it and attract more people to move here in an increasingly diverse, multicultural democracy.


The Vermont Legislative Social Equity Caucus supports the teaching of US History uncensored, and believes our youth are deserving of the opportunity to honestly reflect and build authentic connection to one another. We also trust and support our educators and administrators to build a culture of inclusion and introspection as they implement Act 1 and build a safe learning environment for all students.


We ourselves, commit to hold up the Vermont Values of Community and Civility. With pride, we are working together for a better Vermont. We are committed to open, civil debate with a respectful tone as a paramount value and priority.


We ask Vermonters to join us in affirming support of teaching history and all subjects with honesty and integrity. We continue to grow and strengthen our democracy and our state by doing so. Our children deserve no less."


All the best,

Kesha

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