• An Open Letter To Guilford First Selectman Matt Hoey

    November 12, 2023
    Guilford First Selectman Matt Hoey. Source: Facebook.

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    Well, we had another farce of an election yesterday, engineered by a party that, despite is name, is anything but democratic.  When the unholy coalition of Democrats and faux “Independents” fabricated its A + C ticket in 2021, it destroyed the Minority Representation Rule and any sense of comity that once existed in Guilford.  Is this truly what you want Guilford to be known for?  Do you want to known for a power grab that replaces the true minority party with a minority that can only be propped up with excess Democrat votes?  Yet, this could not have happened without your approval.

    Why would any Republican run in Guilford when they have no hope of winning a seat at the table?  Yet, you and your cronies have substituted a party with slightly more than 300 registered voters for a party of over 3,300 registered voters—TEN TIMES THE NUMBER!  I have never lived in a community that engaged in such devious tactics to marginalize the views of over 3,300 voters, not to mention depriving the much larger number of Unaffiliated voters who are left with no viable choices on Election Day.  Is this something you ponder at Mass on Sunday?  Has political expediency, the lust for power, and contempt for your fellow citizens replaced a sense of basic human decency? The fact is, Guilford is a beautiful town on the outside, but with a dark underbelly that reflects badly on those who run it.

    I attach an editorial I published last year which examines the evisceration of the minority representation rule and Group Think as two toxic ingredients in any community.  The administration of Paul Freeman has had a wide-ranging deleterious effect on this community which seems to have escaped your notice.  Your support for Freeman is entirely misplaced.  Let me tell you something.  As an historian and retired State Law Librarian (RI), I have studied education issues longer than Freeman has been in the field of education (I’m 76).  When he overreacted to the Black Face Incident and the death of George Floyd, and then bought 300 copies of Ibram Kendi’s book for every Guilford teacher because he thought an entire community needed to be cleansed of its “white supremacy” by following the “antiracist” prescriptions of a race grifter, I knew he was seriously uninformed and lacked critical thinking skills.  

    Are you aware that Connecticut has the largest racial achievement gap in the country?  Are you aware that Freeman's DEI agenda will do nothing to address that gap, even if it could be identified in a town like Guilford with only 40 black students.  Yet, he paid $25,000 of our tax dollars for an Equity Report from another EdD (Don Siler), without even preparing a job description in advance or opening the job to competitive bidding from those who had previously conducted such reports. In fact, there is no evidence that Dr. Siler had ever conducted an equity report.  This leads one to conclude that Siler was chosen because he had a previous relationship with Freeman and could be expected to tell him that he wanted to hear.  This is educational malfeasance!  The final report was, not surprisingly, an outright embarrassment, as Dr. Armand Fusco has exhaustively documented.  In the first place, there was no data collection to ascertain what, if any, racial gaps exist in Guilford.  There were no anonymous surveys to gather honest student, teacher, and parent opinions and support.  Nor was the report predicated upon any clearly articulated goals.  I would not expect you to know these things. It seems clear to me and many others, however, that your support for Freeman is based on a personal relationship, and the psychological dynamics that flow from that, and not on substantive evaluation of his job performance and its effect on this community.  But this misplaced personal trust doesn’t cut it, not when the educational futures of several thousand students and the health of a community are at stake.   

    I’ve been studying reading and literacy issues for more than 40 years and have read most of the critical literature in the field.  I also author SAT vocabulary building novels that are aimed chiefly at minority students with deficiencies in vocabulary building and cultural literacy.  Connecticut’s racial achievement gap is manifest chiefly in inner city schools, including a significant number that should be closed due to their failure for decades to address these deficiencies.  This is incompetence of the highest order, for which the State Department of Education bears significant responsibility.  If there are minority students in Guilford whose performance reflects these deficiencies in the ability to de-code language or comprehend complex texts, Dr. Siler’s “equity report” did nothing to identify these deficiencies.  That was $25,000 down the drain.  But you wouldn’t know that because Freeman is your friend, and friendship has taken precedence over the learning of Guilford Students, whether white or black. 

    Instead, Freeman has illegally and precipitously engineered DEI and ESJA curriculum changes in K-12 that far exceed what the state recommended after a lengthy process involving over 200 participants and nine committees. Their only recommendation was an elective course in ethnic studies [[the legislation specified African-American and Black studies and Puerto Rican and Latino studies] at the HIGH SCHOOL level. But that was not sufficient for Freeman who engineered plans to indict an entire community and its students K-12 with the broad brush of systemic racism that will do nothing to address the deficiencies of black or brown students.

    In that regard, I want to quote the brilliant scholar, Thomas Sowell, who wrote the following in his book “Intellectuals and Race” (page 124):

    “Even those who can manage to escape the false dichotomy, and its intolerable alternatives [genetic determinism and discrimination], would need to recognize that those who lag, for whatever reasons, face a daunting task of bringing themselves up to the level of the rest of society in knowledge, skills and experience—and in the attitudes necessary to acquire this knowledge and these skills and experience. Individuals may be able to do so within their own lifetimes, but for millions of people from a lagging group to do so would be harder and take far longer, even if their leaders were urging them in that direction, and virtually impossible when their leaders are fiercely promoting the idea that their lags are due primarily—if not solely—to the malice of other people.”  [My highlights]

    I can almost guarantee that Freeman has never read Sowell or contemplated the dynamics he describes.  If he had, he would have exercised some circumspection before proceeding on a course almost guaranteed to fail in addressing the racial achievement gap.  For example, Ibram Kendi has been peddling the utterly bankrupt notion that racial deficiencies are automatically the result of racism, while ignoring the dozens of factors that contribute to educational success or failure (e.g. two parents in the home, stable home environment, infrequent school changes, drug use in the home, value placed on education in the home, books in the home, neighborhood safety, cultural opportunities, role of faith in the home, birth order of the child, mentors, supportive teachers, voluntary reading habit (very critical), excessive social media addiction, etc.)  Those who peddle the idea that student failure is overwhelmingly the result of racism, or what other people do, are dooming students to poor academic performance and life outcomes.  Instead, they need to embrace the sense of agency, in other words, that their success is in their hands.

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    Educational deficiencies affect students of all colors.  Have you ever watched news clips where young people of high school or college age are asked basic questions that address knowledge of civics.  Many, if not a majority, cannot even identify the three branches of government, let alone define their role.  My granddaughter, who has been homeschooled since Covid exposed the deficiencies of the Guilford system, and for which her grandparents are responsible two days per week, could pass the U.S. Citizenship Test when she was in the 5th grade.  So much for receiving some value for our tax dollars.  We jumped in where Guilford failed do its job.

    I urge you to read the editorial below.  I also attach Armand Fusco’s 98-page booklet, “Are Guilford, Connecticut Schools Headed in the Wrong Direction?” that summarizes the contents of four books he has either published or is on the verge of publishing that address the manifold deficiencies of the Guilford Public Schools, including what he calls, sarcastically, “The Trophy School.” His book “Does Your Child Attend a Safe School?  No!  What Parents and Policymakers Need to Know and More” came out earlier this year.   It examines the multiple failures of Paul Freeman, the current BOE and town officials in addressing safety issues that affect the school system and our entire community.  This by a 91-year-old former school superintendent who has spent his retirement years researching and writing on these critical issues.  

    Changing course for someone in your position would take an uncommon level of courage, but it is not unprecedented.  I realize you would have to buck Freeman, your party, and others who are leading us in wrong direction.  Yet, if you don't, we’ll be in the same position in another twenty years that we are now, tilting at racist windmills like the fictional Don Quixote, rather than helping the minority students who need our help and who are otherwise destined for the school to prison pipeline.

    Sincerely yours,

    Kendall Svengalis, President

    New England LawPress



    Kendall Svengalis

    Kendall Svengalis is the President New England LawPress.

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