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SERC is a quasi-public agency established under statute to serve the CT State Board of Education in supporting "educational equity and excellence”.
It does this by providing professional development, research and best practices to educators, service providers, and families throughout Connecticut, as well as through embedded technical assistance and training within schools, programs, and districts. Formerly known as the "Special Education Resource Center", SERC became the "State Education Resource Center" according to a change in state statutes. The current name reflects the broad range of services and programs it provides not just for special education but also general education.
SERC’s vision statement reads: "EQUITY. Excellence. Education.” Where “equity" is spelled in all capital letters since the vision of SERC is to address "institutionalized racism and other issues of social justice in schools and districts, and both models and facilitates equity in education.” That’s a bit of a shift from its humble beginnings as a Special Education Resource Center, huh?
According to the
website, SERC’s distinction is rooted in the legislative mandate to support the State Board of Education in "the provision of programs and activities that promote equity and excellence” according to C.G.S. §10-357b(a). As such, SERC calls itself "the living embodiment of a racially conscious organization” because it "challenges bias, raises hard questions rooted in core values about student ability, and interrupts thinking and interactions that perpetuate inequities for Connecticut’s children.”A 2017 guide published in SERC's “Equity in Education” Series details the “
Transformational Approach to Teaching and Learning” that SERC promotes.
SERC says the guide "discusses why we believe a focus on the intersectionality of race and education is important”… of course,
intersectionality was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw who is widely credited as one of the
architects of critical race theory.
Crenshaw and CRT activists believe that the
intersectionality aspect of CRT features two key elements.
First, CRT activists believe an intersectional approach is needed to better understand the nature of social inequities and the processes that create and sustain them. This is the “equity lens” through which the world must be viewed to uncover racism and hidden biases, which are assumed to be systemic, hence the term “systemic racism". Second, which connects to CRT’s earliest roots as a legal construct, intersectionality has a core activist component, in that an intersectional approach aims to generate coalitions between different groups with the intent of resisting and changing the status quo.
It turns out that SERC has hosted a number of events on “systemic racism" over the years, and is currently taking registrations for its May 2023 conference on
Dismantling Systemic Racism. You might recall that Greenwich public schools instructional coach
Valerie Bolling received SERC’s Excellence in Education Award at last year’s conference on systemic racism.
You might also recall that after last year’s conference, SERC published its
perspective on Critical Race Theory in the CT Examiner… whereby it confirmed that CRT emerged as a "foundational framework” for it to understand structural racism. SERC further explained:
"We learned that CRT: 1. strives to advance a social justice framework; 2. explains how race and racism are organized and operate; 3. aims to redress social inequalities; 4. is typically interdisciplinary and embraces multifaceted disciplines and/or research methods; 5. tends to be organized around core questions that reach into several disciplines; 6. draws upon paradigms of intersectionality; and 7. recognizes that race and racism work with and through gender, ethnicity, class, and sexuality as systems of power."
But it never denied that CRT is the framework used by SERC in its “transformational approach” to teaching equity, did it?