We, the undersigned, fully support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in our Northern Westchester schools. Many DEI measures are implementations of the New York State Education Department’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education framework coming down from state leadership in Albany, and for good reason. The introduction to this framework states:
“The CR-S framework helps educators create student-centered learning environments that: affirm racial, linguistic and cultural identities; prepare students for rigor and independent learning, develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference; elevate historically marginalized voices; and empower students as agents of social change.”
In other words, this framework encourages and guides schools to create a welcoming environment for all students; to teach children age-appropriate, accurate history; to connect students across cultural differences and through similarities; and to promote critical thinking skills so students can be informed and compassionate American and global citizens who respect and explore a diversity of ideas from a variety of vantage points. DEI measures are simply good
21st century pedagogy.
Still, in recent months, a campaign to halt DEI efforts has surfaced in our communities. These efforts are grounded in mistruths and a coordinated, national propaganda campaign. The erroneous foundations of the arguments against DEI measures have gone unchallenged by some of our schools boards- or even endorsed and supported.
Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and the NYSED CR-S framework are not an embodiment of critical race theory. Critical race theory is a body of scholarly work that examines the racial dimensions of American law and other institutions in society. This conceptual framework was developed after a substantial amount of highly scrutinized academic work was presented in peer reviewed journals.
Critical race theory does not appear in K-12 curriculums and is not being proposed. Creating welcoming classrooms and critical thinkers is not “indoctrinating” students with “critical race theory”– it is teaching our children well.
Many children already understand systemic racism— and systemic sexism, classism and heterosexism– because they experience it, and because they have emergent critical thinking skills. Many of these students in our districts have spoken in front of their school boards about their experiences of discrmination in their schools and communities, which encouraged administrators to begin or accelerate DEI efforts. School staff need support as they lead classroom efforts to include all students– not cameras and McCarthy-esque witch hunts- and students need factual information and opportunities to discuss historical and contemporary systemic issues as they arise.
America is a work in progress, a country dedicated to democracy, to doing better, to being better. Here, we make space for everyone to create and experience the promise of liberty and justice for all. And all means ALL. As patriotic Americans, we are compelled to denounce the attack on DEI. We denounce the vilification of inclusivity. We denounce the attacks on truth, democracy, and civility. And we denounce unfounded attacks on CRT. We will not move our communities backwards and allow misinformed community members to silence these attempts to address bigotry and exclusionary practices in our public schools.
If you would like to sign on in support of this statement, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colin Smith, District 1, Westchester Board of Legislators
Catherine Borgia, District 9, Westchester Board of Legislators
Marisa Ragonese, Mohegan Lake, Lakeland Central School District
Rachel Frederick, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Sharon Paige, Somers, Somers Central School District
Joe Ascanio, Yorktown Heights, Lakeland Central School District
Russ Passig, Lakeland Central School District
Judyth Stavans, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Sarah Wilson, Lakeland Central School District
Jenna Jaramillo, Yorktown Central School District
Jennie Sunshine, Lakeland Central School District
Mel Tanzman, Mohegan Lake, Lakeland Central School District
James Carmody, Carmel
Patricia Sullivan-Rothberg, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Maura Gregory, Mohegan Lake, Lakeland Central School District
Elina Dart, Shrub Oak, Lakeland Central School District
David Stavans, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District Alum
Reverend Matthew Querns, Pastor Yorktown United Methodist Church
George McAnanama, Yonkers, Yonkers Central School District
Leah Nelson, Ossining, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Hudson Valley
Laura Greenberg, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Maria Andrea Laverde, Heritage Hills, Somers School District
Daniela Duff, Cortlandt Manor, Lakeland Central School District
Brandon Riley, Cortlandt Manor, Lakeland Central School District
Cheryl and Brittany Sanchez, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Stephanie Geiger, Somers, Somers Central School District
Christina Reichelt, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Anne-Marie Paolino, Cortlandt Manor, Lakeland Central School District
Marc DeLonge, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Shawn DeLonge, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Rosa Hirsch, Yorktown Heights, Lakeland Central School District
Nancy Haggerty, Shrub Oak, Lakeland Central School District
Stephanie Stowe, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Trish Sullivan, Yorktown Heights, Yorktown Central School District
Yorktown for Justice
Race Amity of Northern Westchester
This support letter has been published in numerous local newspapers. See the Yonkers Times article below-