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Newtown Cares About Its Students, Not Just The Numbers



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To the Editor:

Right now there are thousands of maple saplings all over Newtown, and it has many people wondering why. Last year, the maple trees were under stress due to warming temperatures and local fungus, and responded by spreading extra seeds in hope that the next generation would survive and thrive. Like trees, humans also have a biological response to stress, but long-term stress has been proven to have detrimental effects on the human body.

The school climate survey was recently sent home to parents, and as a professional counselor I can’t help but think about the stress that many of our Newtown students encounter at school every day. While the school is doing their best to create a safe spot for every student, the truth is, there is still a group of students who feel the negative effects of stress every single day. Research and data shows us that marginalized students are more likely to suffer from mental health issues in school than their peers. In a meta-analytical study done in 2018 of over 91,000 adolescents, researchers found that perceptions of discrimination were linked directly to more depressive symptoms, greater psychological distress, poorer self-esteem, lower academic achievement, less academic motivation, risky sexual behaviors, and substance use. This isn’t just random data. Newtown Allies for Change continuously aids Newtown families dealing with racial trauma inflicted on them by Newtown residents, including children.

According to the Educator Diversity Dashboard, Newtown Public Schools have seen an increase in diversity of our students (11% in 2012, 20% in 2023), however the educators of color in Newtown remain almost the same at 3%. It is great to see the increase in diversity in our student body, but extremely disappointing that the number of educators of color is not also increasing. Representation matters.

Knowing that the research and data proves the need for more DEI work in our schools, it is crucial now, more than ever, that we look back at the Board of Education’s DEI resolution to ensure that we are creating a safe environment for all of our Newtown students. Once again the school budget is being cut by millions of dollars. It makes me sad to think of all the teachers, support staff, and programs that our students will no longer be receiving due to this budget cut. However, what really makes me sick to my stomach is that we know what programs get cut first — the DEI programs.

Earlier this week, a former elected official had this to say about the budget cuts: “Monroe outperforms Newtown while spending less per student. Why can’t we do what they are doing?” My answer to him, because we are not Monroe, and we don’t want to be. Looking at Monroe’s Diversity Dashboard, their gap between students of color and educators of color is 61% higher than ours! In Newtown, we care for more than just the test scores. We care about the safety and wellbeing of our students. Of ALL our students.

Kate McGrady

Sandy Hook

A letter from Kate McGrady.
Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. qstorm says:

    Diversity quotas. We all see how that is working out..

  2. bw.reloconsult@snet.net says:

    Wonder who gstorm is. Easy to make snide comment anonymously. The Bee should require real names as it does when sending a letter to the Bee.

    1. ll says:

      You’re obsessed with “exposing” people who have a viewpoint that differs from yours.

  3. tomj says:

    I suspect he is a Republican. If you are a Republican in this town we have a witness protection group because its not safe.

    1. ll says:

      Spot on, tomj. One’s personal life, family and/or business will be targeted if they’re an outspoken R in this town.

  4. dennis brestovansky says:

    bw.reloconsult – why do you not use yours?

  5. ryan knapp says:

    Thanks for the quote, many people don’t realize Newtown does not exist in a silo and we have peers to benchmark against. For example Trumbull also spends less per student and outperforms us.
    ALL students benefit from consistent policies and quality education. Affordability matters, especially to less affluent families which tend to skew more heavily minority based on census data.

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