Greenwich Superintendent Toni Jones issued a letter to families about how GPS planned on supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) last year. In part, the letter read:
Supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Greenwich has a long history of standing tall supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as part of our curriculum and student supports. We have not wavered on these ideals, and we intend to continue growing stronger as a school system. ‘Stand Up Against Racism Day’ has been a part of GPS for well over a decade. ‘Names Day’ at GHS has become a tradition for our 9th graders, welcoming them into high school with the messages of inclusion and kindness towards others. GHS was also just designated a ‘No Place for Hate’ school by the Anti-Defamation League. We have GPS Staff members who participate as part of the First Selectman’s Diversity Committee, as well as on our own internal Diversity Committees. This year, our students have sat on panels to share their experiences in GPS, and we’ve had GPS participation in League of Women Voters panels to learn and share with one another. These are just a few examples of our commitment to DEI across our district.
GPS Does Not Teach Critical Race Theory
We do not want our efforts around DEI to be miscommunicated or misinterpreted to suggest that we are teaching ‘Critical Race Theory.’ ‘Critical Race Theory’ is not part of the GPS curriculum. We do, however, want our students to be critical thinkers, listeners, and analyze the past, present, and future in regards to how we see and respect one another, which is a core component of our District’s mission to prepare students to function effectively in an interdependent global community.
A Freedom of Information Act request was subsequently submitted last year in order to obtain “all contracts, terms, agreements, both formal and informal, as well as receipts of purchase between Greenwich Public Schools, or agents on its behalf, and any organization, company, group or individual providing diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum, services or materials.”
Dr. Stacey Heiligenthaler indicated, “there is nothing to provide” after 10 months of waiting for a response. Does this answer indicate that GPS created all of its DEI "curriculum and student supports" with internal employees only and they used no outside help? Or were the materials provided to the district for free and without a contract, in the same manner as the White Fragility books were “gifted” to the school by an anonymous administrator? Hmm...
Shortly after receiving the empty FOIA response, an article appeared on the National Education Association (NEA) website that claimed Greenwich Schools had just approved DEI lessons "months prior” to the end of the 2022 school year.
So another FOIA was issued to GPS to obtain these recently approved lessons, as well as “any DEI lessons” being taught “as part of our curriculum and student supports”. In light of the stated commitment to DEI, the results of this next FOIA should at the very least contain the items already cited by the Superintendent in last year’s email. Or so we hope!
Of course, this leaves reasonable people wondering…
Why is it so difficult to obtain the materials being taught to children in public schools? If these materials are so good for students, why not make the materials available to parents so they can see what all the fuss is about? Why not be honest and transparent, and simply post all approved materials — especially for potentially controversial subjects — on the school website so there is no confusion about what’s taking place in the classroom?
And, in light of the fact that all curriculum must first be approved by the Board of Education, this doesn’t seem like an insurmountable task... or are we missing something?
P.S. The definition of racism used by the Anti-Defamation League reads: The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.
Is that what’s being taught to GPS children under the banner of “no place for hate”? That racism is about white people being oppressors? Isn’t that one of the core tenets of critical race theory? That subject which Superintendent Jones has declared is not taught in GPS? It really makes you wonder how the school earned a “no place for hate” designation without promoting ADL’s critical race theory-based definition of racism, doesn’t it?