Assembly Member Kevin Byrne held a press conference last month to call on the NYS Department of Education (NYSED) to drop all efforts to tie state financial aid to school districts firmly recommended, but very controversial.
âDiversity, Equity and Inclusion (DCI) Framework and Policy Statementâ.
Last week, Assembly members Kevin Byrne and Colin Schmitt joined with their colleague, distinguished member of the NYS Assembly Education Committee, Doug Smith, in writing a letter to NYSED Commissioner, the Dr Betty A. Rosa, stressing the importance of respecting local oversight and their opposition to harsh state mandates or incentives related to the implementation of DCI. Several specific concerns regarding DCI’s policy were cited in the letter sent to Commissioner Rosa.
Last week, in its list of budget and legislative priorities for the 2022-2023 school year, the NYS Board of Regents included a new request for $ 1 million in funding to subsidize schools that adopt diversity initiatives, equity and inclusion and the cultural support framework.
âWe need to trust our families, respect parents and honor local control. Our educators should continue to teach history, good and bad, but not rewrite it, âsaid Assembly Member Kevin Byrne. âWe strongly reject any attempt to link
public funding of schools for the establishment of DEI or CRS in our schools. Our elected officials on school boards and locally elected officials often talk about the costly mandates imposed on them by Albany, and for good reason, because they come at a price. If you combine a very controversial and divisive policy with state aid, it will be seen by many as a new mandate. We call on other elected leaders in our state to honor local control and respect parents who seek to advocate for their children at the local level. “
Although he was unable to attend in person, Assembly Member Colin Schmitt made the following statement: âThe state Department of Education is trying to use the state budget process to trampling on local control of our schools and implementing the CRT and its underlying principles. This is wrong, and it demonstrates once again the disrespect of the Albany bureaucrats for parents and elected school boards. Our children deserve a high quality education that prepares them for college and to compete in a global economy. It is the sole responsibility of the State Department of Education. There is no room for CRT and other aspects of this partisan political agenda in our classrooms. “
âWith the cute way the incentives are done with state help, the state will be dictating what happens in our local school programs,â said Frank Del Campo, former Putnam County deputy principal and school administrator. . âFrom my experience in
school administration, the best sources for curriculum writing are school administrators, teachers, and stakeholders in your own school district, not Albany bureaucrats. “
âAs a parent, I feel compelled to educate myself about what is going on in our schools and involve other parents and community members to encourage them to get involved,â said Sarah Hanganu, President of Dutchess County Moms for Liberty. “We are here to ask Commissioner Rosa not to tie conditional funding to the implementation of these divisive educational frameworks.”
âAs of early January of this year, Moms for Liberty has over 160 chapters in 33 states with over 70,000 members,â said Abby O’Brien, vice president of Putnam County Moms for Liberty. “I am here today on
on behalf of all New York branches of Moms for Liberty to oppose the allocation of public funds to DCI in our schools.
Although he was unable to attend in person, John Curzio, a member of the Carmel Central School District School Board, made a personal statement on his own behalf stating: âThe statement I make today is my personal comments and I’m not speaking on behalf of the board or any other board memberâ¦ The idea that Albany would tie critical school funding to the implementation of the controversial framework known as the âframework of diversity, equity and inclusion âis nonsense. This framework seeks to divide us at a critical time when we must unite as a community, as a state and as a nation. We should not spread the idea among our children that they are defined by their race, which this framework endorses. “
Assembly member Byrne is also a candidate for the Putnam County executive. He represents parts of northern Westchester, Putnam County, and parts of Dutchess County that make up the 94th Assembly District.
The DEI learning debate continues in North Westchester, with the recent departure of Lakeland Schools Superintendent Dr Brendan Lyons in September 2021 believed to be due to disagreements between the Lakeland School Board and Lyon in subject of DEI education.
Former Superintendent Lyons and Yorktown Superintendent Dr Ronald Hattar both said at their respective school board meetings last year that their curriculum did not include the controversial term Critical Race Theory, CRT.
A group called Save our Schools (SOS), for the children of Westchester, said after Lyon’s resignation: âToday’s announcement must be a wake-up call for school administrators in Westchester that parents will not sit idle while their children learn to hate America and hate themselves by seeing their peers as oppressors or underdogs.
Another group that supports DCI education and opposes SOS is Yorktown for Justice. The two faced off at Yorktown School Board meetings last year. DCI âthe framework encourages and guides schools to create a welcoming environment for all students; teach children a precise story adapted to their age; connect students across cultural differences and across similarities; and promote critical thinking skills so that students can be informed and compassionate American and global citizens who respect and explore a diversity of ideas from a variety of perspectives. ..Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and the NYSED CR-S framework are not an embodiment of critical race theory. Critical Race Theory is a body of academic work that examines the racial dimensions of American law and other institutions in society. Critical Race Theory does not appear in Kindergarten to Grade 12 curricula and is not offered. Creating welcoming classrooms and critical thinkers is not to ‘indoctrinate’ students with ‘critical race theory‘ – it is to teach our children well, âYorktown for Justice wrote in a letter signed by elected officials and parents.