Questions need answers from Chambersburg Area School District

CHAMBERSBURG – After a committee meeting from the Chambersburg Area School Board last night, there are a whole lot more questions than answers concerning equity inclusion development.

Every time equity inclusion development is brought into a conversation – particularly in school districts – it often leads to Critical Race Theory.

Critical Race Theory is an academic movement made up of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race, and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice.

Opponents to CRT cite accusations of racism against all white people as a primary reason that CRT should not be taught in schools.

The committee meeting last night was not one where the public can comment and two issues on the agenda were:

A multi-year inclusion professional development and coaching and the LIU educational service proposal for district-wide consultation equity and inclusion.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the issue this morning on First News.

Jansen attended the committee meeting via the Zoom platform and those two above-mentioned issues were barely breezed over.

“They didn’t talk about it, but this (the LIU proposal) is a two-year contract that they’re going to be getting into with a consulting group,” she said. “They didn’t even say why we need it. They talk about this equity audit. I’d like to know what that is, who did it, what were the results of it? There’s so much not being very transparent here and again they breezed over it. Nobody even asked a question about it from the school board.”

Ryan added, “Oh, it’s transparent. You just have to ask the right questions or file the right form and then we’ll get you the information. You can’t accuse them of not being transparent here. We’ll make you jump through some hoops to get to the transparency.”

Another piece of the issue is on the agenda items it said the request is to make a direct integration of equity and inclusion goals as a result of the equity audit.

Where even is this equity audit?

This would certainly mean the district would hire an expensive consultant.

Barkdoll said, “I think parents, taxpayers, residents, they need a lot more information on this and I think the district needs to tread very carefully with this. As we’ve been talking about for months, there are real concerns about how these programs are done, who’s the vendor that’s putting on this program. We’ve kind of seen this train coming down the tracks for a long time now and here it is in front of us. It looks like it will be voted on by the full board at the next meeting.”

In addition, Chambersburg Area School District is participating in something called A Long Talk.

Per their website: A Long Talk About The Uncomfortable Truth is an anti-racism activation experience. Participants who self identify to engage in this experience agree to the completion of pre work before entering into the group discussion. This pre work is a multimedia collection of content reflecting the truth about the history of racism in the United States and the impact it continues to have on our society today. Completion of the pre work serves to provide a common foundational understanding of the issue. The “long talk” begins with three (3) days on a virtual conference call. Each call lasts 90 minutes. The calls are orchestrated as reflective conversations, where participants are asked to listen, view, and respond in real time. The conversations take place in large and small group settings using the breakout rooms feature. 

Jansen pointed out, “This is a group that if you look at it, they’re pretty extremist. If you go to their Facebook page, you’ll see some rather extreme things about systemic racism, about white privilege, about critical race theory, about our country being founded on racism. And Chambersburg Area School District as noted on an April 1 post on the Facebook page of A Long Talk 2020, they were the first school district to start participating in the training based on this anti-racism, Critical Race Theory program that they have. They proudly tout Chambersburg Area School District on their list of clients. People need to start asking questions about that. Was that mandatory? How much is that getting integrated into the school and the curriculum? We need answers.”

Barkdoll wondered, “Who is bringing this stuff to the board? Is this an administrator? Is it someone on the board? Is it someone on the faculty? This isn’t just coming organically. Someone in the district would be bringing this on the agenda for a vote and it would be interesting to know who that is.”

State Senator Doug Mastriano weighed in later this morning, “Why is this propaganda and indoctrination coming to one of the most conservative counties in the state? Why are we the first? This is something that you’d expect out of a county that votes left. This does not belong here. The parents, you need to rise up and get engaged and push back. Schools should be no place for indoctrination. That kind of garbage happened in the Soviet Union, where they indoctrinated kids with this hate mongering. This is out of place. Let’s help the kids to do academically well so they can succeed in the business world. What does this have to do with their lives? Other than indoctrinating them and giving them a certain political angle?”

Can anything be done at the state level?

“We can try at the state level as you’ve seen in Florida and elsewhere to put a ban on some of these race-based, hate-mongering, biased ways of approaching the students,” Mastriano said. “Obviously we’ll need a lot of votes on that and I can guarantee that not all the people on my side of the aisle will go for it – they’re afraid of being called a racist. But you’re not. It’s taking a hot, racially biased angle out of the schools. If there is a problem with racism in certain schools, that needs to be dealt with locally and not this broad-based indoctrination using our resources, our time, your taxpayer dollars at work. It’s inappropriate.”

Ryan noted, “This one size fits all thing I think is something that’s bigger here and it goes to a lot of different things that are happening in the news cycle right now. Is there racism? Absolutely. Is it happening all over the place at every turn? No. Do we have little problems that we can fix? Yeah, let’s have a talk about it. This one size fits all thing is a huge problem.”