Mifflinburg Citizens Dread “Critical Race Theory” | Local News

MIFFLINBURG – Citizens with issues that may have been brewing for months attended the first Mifflinburg area school district principals meeting with in-person public participation for months.

Administrators heard criticism Tuesday night, mostly of a district equity team and a local investigation into the related issues. Both emerged in 2020 amid a national and local questioning of race, established practices and the role of education.

A dozen citizens were to address an almost full roster of principals in the spacious auditorium of Mifflinburg Area High School. Among them was Katie Troup who called for the disbandment of the District Equity Team as this could lead to further divisions based on what is commonly referred to as “Critical Race Theory.”

“Critical Race Theory, which is a critical theory applied to race, teaches that racism is everywhere and everything is racist,” Troup said. “He teaches to look for racism and ‘victimization’ in every situation and pits little children against each other.

Breezy Moyer suspected that the real agenda of the state’s equity efforts was to bring topics of gender identity and sexual orientation into equal opportunity discussions.

Moyer also criticized the district’s fairness investigation. She said the survey questions were not specific to questions of desirability.

Troy Zimmerman and others have said recent efforts may be a harbinger of more confrontational action. In particular, citizens feared that this would lead to making critical race theory a component of education.

Mifflinburg-area school district superintendent Dan Lichtel offered a measured but precise response. He said the points raised by critics were in full agreement with an ongoing conversation with administrators and principals.

“It’s true that I attended a Pennsylvania School Board Association (APSA) workshop on equity,” Lichtel said. “It is true that the educational literature during this year has focused and emphasized equity in schools across the country. And it’s also true that we started our quest to explore equity last summer before it was released and before it was developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. “

The basis of the lawsuit, Lichtel added, was the recognition that students at all levels were not achieving what they could because they did not feel like they belonged.

Lichtel said the national media was guilty of dividing, selling “fairness” as a “critical theory of race” and bringing people together. The result was potentially “explosive,” he said, and runs counter to the district’s efforts.

“Our definition of fairness, I believe, can be local,” Lichtel said. “I don’t think it needs to be defined nationally and we don’t need to follow what’s published everywhere else.”

Lichtel said some equity indicators proposed by the APSA and the Education Ministry were valid, but the district deliberately decided not to pursue all elements of the state plan.

“We seek equity to provide a learning environment where all students feel included, supported, respected and safe,” said Lichtel. “This mission does not separate children into groups and identify shortcomings in one or another, but it recognizes our need to work on the learning environment.”

Lichtel said it was not the district’s role to stray from the curriculum to teach a social agenda. But he admitted it was a difficult question to clarify.

A proposed fence behind Mifflinburg Middle School and near Mifflinburg Primary School has also drawn criticism. The plans, based on state security requirements, have been progressing since the start of the year.

Palmer Reese was among those citizens who said a fence has limited value if there is an active shooter on school grounds. He suggested connecting it to an existing fence and placing it closer to the school. Reese also noted that recent appraisals of her property noted the property’s value near the school as is.

Shawn Aucker said the fence would actually prevent students from getting to school through a nearby field. She was disappointed that the fence had already been put into competition.

Andrew Landis criticized the proposed fence and said it could prevent a safe escape from the school in an emergency.

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