Time To Come Together
To the Editor:
My name is Kersti Ferguson and I am a parent of an 8-year-old here in Newtown. I am writing as a concerned parent and not as a member of the P&Z commission, of which I am a member.
Last week I attended the BOE Diversity, Equity, Inclusion sub-committee meeting to learn more about what DEI initiatives are in the district and principally to express concern over what I deemed was a divisive photo meme posted by the Newtown DEI coordinator on a Social Media Page bearing the Newtown Public Schools name. In my public comment, I shared concerns that the message of this meme was more divisive than inclusive.
Since public comment is not a two-way conversation, I was hoping this would be discussed during the meeting. When [BOE] member Don Ramsey did pose a question about this post, he was told by Newtown’s DEI coordinator, Wesley Johnson, that we would not be discussing this in public today.
We continue to hear that we need to have brave and uncomfortable conversations regarding this very topic of racial division, yet here is the opportunity and then told this won’t be discussed in public. After talking with other parents, I know that I was not alone in sharing this concern.
Furthermore, upon reading the minutes from this meeting, there is ample evidence that [BOE member] Rebekah Harriman, who was also taking the minutes, seemed to be more interested in attempting to frame board member Donald Ramsey in a negative light than capturing the essence of the work that the sub-committee is charged with performing.
Asking difficult questions is in no way wrong or inappropriate, especially in a setting that was designed for this exact purpose. Mr Ramsey asked his questions in an articulate, kind, and professional manner. It is clear by reading the minutes that Ms Harriman was more interested in quoting Mr Ramsey to “out” him rather than hearing him present parental concerns on a difficult topic.
Perhaps even more concerning is that the minutes appear to be manipulated with the intent of silencing differing views, as my public comment was summarized in a brief sentence, in contrast to the public comment in support of Ms Harriman’s agenda [that] had an entire paragraph dedicated to it. A recent social media post campaigning for people to ask Mr Ramsey to step down from this committee for asking these tough questions, in my opinion, is nothing more than glorified bullying. Something which DEI is so rightfully against.
I urge parents to pay attention to what is happening in our schools. It is time to come together as a community, not have division sowed by the very individual and committee that was charged with promoting DEI. Newtown should not be a proving ground for what appears [to be] a national agenda of a Political Party. Let’s get the politics out of our Schools and our hard-earned tax money down to our kids.