To the Greenwich Board of Education,
I am outraged that, once again, minor children have been exposed to inaccurate, misleading, and inappropriate material in a Greenwich public school classroom. No matter the ultimate excuse for this one... that the materials "slipped through the cracks" or that a supposedly "rogue teacher" didn't follow policies and procedures, the fact is that inappropriate, unscientific, opinion-based curricula was shared with students as if it were factual, again. And, to make matters worse, apparently the safeguard that exists (the parental opt-out policy) failed. This video is not one I would support being shown in ANY classroom, for any reason, yet here we are: video link. Unproven philosophical ideologies like gender identity are treated by our faculty as dogmas, not to be questioned, lest one be considered insensitive, bigoted, or worse.
Regardless of any excuse for how this happened, yet again, this has to STOP.
Who is empowered to STOP it? The BOE.
I applaud Karen Kowalski for speaking out publicly about her concerns and against these blatant infringements on parental rights and religious freedom. I would like to see more of you stand up on the record and honestly tell voters where you draw the line on what material should be taught in our schools and what consequences should exist for violations of policy. To be clear, like the 120+ Harvard faculty (mostly non-conservatives) who have joined a newly formed Council on Academic Freedom, I value differences of opinion and intellectual debate, so I am not looking for a particular "right" answer. However, I'm asking for a clear position statement from each of you to know where you stand.
Teachers may teach that "Christians and Jews generally believe there is one God, ancient Romans believed there were many," but not "there is a God." Our teachers should NOT be teaching unscientific material as fact (e.g., "there are many genders and nothing is binary"). These are OPINIONS, ideologies, and value judgments very much up for debate, and best left to families in the same way that religion is left to families. These topics do not belong in a public school classroom and this indoctrination should not be funded with tax dollars. As our children continue to struggle to overcome COVID educational hurdles, please focus on academics and leave lessons on morals, values, and politics to families.
***I would ask each of you to go on the record and answer 3 simple questions about this:
1) Would you be ok if your minor child saw this video in school?
2) Regardless of your answer to #1, can you understand why a parent might not want their child to see this video in school?
3) Do you agree that parents should have a right to prevent their child from seeing this video in school?
This administration (and, in some ways, the BOE as its supervisor) has lost the trust of the parents. As a path to regaining that trust, we need more action and more transparency.
In the finance world, if a regulator consistently finds violations of policies and procedures and illegality, the blame expands beyond the individual employee and to the firm. Regulators call this "failure to reasonably supervise" its employees. Even if you believe they are not directly involved in pushing these radical agendas, you have to admit that the Greenwich Schools administration should have consequences for what is obviously a failure to supervise its employees.
These teachers work for US; YOU represent US in that supervisory capacity. Where is the example-setting consequence (in finance, this would look like a $1bn fine) for violations of the BOE's policies and procedures? People need to be fired, not wrist-slapped, to set an example for the employees.
While I appreciate that parents have access to high level curriculum topics on the website, I think the only way to ensure full genuine transparency is to post every single bit of teaching material to a parent portal at least 1 week prior to student exposure... every book, worksheet, video, news article, Discovery education link, geode link, etc. And if our vendors have an issue extending licenses for parental review, I think we should reconsider our choice of vendors. If our teachers push back, then I'd like to know why they are unwilling or unable to upload these materials...isn't it good practice to have lesson plans and materials prepared at least 1 week prior to student exposure? These are the very same people charged with teaching our students executive functioning skills such as being prepared, not procrastinating, etc.
In summary, please consider the following action items to protect children and families and the integrity of our schools:
1) Reply to this email, or better yet, answer at the next BOE meeting for the whole district to hear the 3 questions I asked above (marked ***) with respect to the controversial video shown at GHS.
2) Insist that the administration recirculate (and/or establish/strengthen and circulate) the disciplinary consequences for both teachers and administrators who violate laws, policies, and procedures established by the BOE, local, state, and federal governments.
3) Follow Harvard's lead and establish principles for academic freedom and open debate.
4) Foster an environment that develops critical thinking skills by establishing clear and harsh disciplinary consequences for faculty and students who retaliate against students for dissenting views (whether views of the student or their family/friends).
5) Establish a parent portal where parents can review every item that children will access in class or have access to through their school-issued devices, whether paper/pencil, presented virtually, or accessed on a school device. These materials should be accessible to parents at least 1 week prior to exposure.
Thank you for your service to the community,
- A Concerned Greenwich Parent