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Essex-Westford School Board gets closer to voting on equity policy

Published: Jun. 1, 2021 at 11:32 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:53 AM EDT
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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - Parents and students Tuesday weighed in on the Essex-Westford School District’s new proposed equity policy, which has drawn attention in recent weeks after a school board member said it’s perpetuating a divisive way of teaching.

Many parents joined in support of the new equity policy which they were just reading for the second time in the school board meeting. However, some feel it perpetuates “critical race theory,” which examines how slavery continues to impact American society and how systemic racism and inequality are embedded in all aspects of American life.

The district’s policy does not refer to the theory. It does, however, seek to address how they approach history in the curriculum, including the genocide of Indigenous people and systemic inequalities and oppression. It seeks to make sure all students are provided with what they need to support their development.

Many parents spoke out in favor of adopting the new policy. “It is my hope that this policy will help educate our community so we can collectively deal with racism to make this a better place for everyone especially BIPOC children,” said one parent.

Some students, including Alex Katsnelson, spoke out against it. “You are fighting tooth and nail to undermine every straight white, middle-class member of our community, which may I remind you, comprises of the vast majority of the student body,” Katsnelson said.

The school board will do a third reading for possible adoption of the equity policy on June 15.

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