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Codify Meaningful Language In Diversity Resolution



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To the Editor:

When I began elementary school in 2007, I loved Head O’ Meadow, and among my most vivid memories from my time there is Newtown’s core character tree. I remember how much emphasis there was on it — it was up on posters everywhere, so you couldn’t even go a day without walking past it at least once.

Among its attributes are trustworthiness, responsibility, and citizenship, just to name a few. These concepts stuck with me and it is why I “have a sense of duty” and “care about my local community,” as also stated on the tree. And listed on the accompanying NPS [Newtown Public Schools] mission statement, for example, is the belief that “understanding all forms of diversity is essential in a global society.”

Now, let’s fast forward to July 2020, when the Newtown board of education voted unanimously to adopt a resolution on diversity and equity. Thus, the proposed language in the last section of policy 4118.21 on academic freedom seems to align with this: “The Board will make every effort to maintain an atmosphere of academic freedom within the schools [that are without partisan, embrace diversity of thought, foster equity in perspective and inclusion of ideas.]”

The policy fits right in along with the existing importance that diversity has already been claimed to hold in Newtown’s schools for more than a decade. But unfortunately, the language that would seem to flow so perfectly with everything else preexisting in the district has come under fire from some members of the current board — even those that were there to vote in favor of the resolution two years ago.

The fact that members of the board are vying to remove this language from the policy is unsettling to me, especially after growing up with it so integrated into my experience at NPS since kindergarten. Their logic in this misconception is flawed; the truth is, it’s really a paradox. If the concern is to avoid your child having an ideology “shoved down their throat,” why would you attempt to remove the language that should specifically prohibit this?

Removing these words from the policy misses the point, and distracts us from doing the work we need to be focused on in order to exist as a truly great school district. It disregards the recommendation from Mr Johnson, whom we specifically hired to advise us on issues like these. In the 21st century, we shouldn’t be afraid to take the steps that will bring us up to par and set a course for continued success, which starts here: with codifying meaningful language that doesn’t shy away from, but embraces the importance of differing viewpoints.

We can’t let this lapse or we risk falling behind. Children should be exposed to a wide variety of opinions in order to develop their own perspectives — and by removing language in the policy that ensures this in our district, you are effectively bringing into reality exactly what you fear.

Trey Hazard


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1 comment
  1. qstorm says:

    “The Board will make every effort to maintain an atmosphere of academic freedom within the schools.” is good enough. The rest is extraneous.

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