Critical Race Theory or “Critical Thinking Skills”? Parents and students in Greenwich compete on the program

GREENWICH – After parents flooded a school board meeting to protest the COVID-19 curriculum and protocols, sometimes mocking and booing those they disagreed with, a handful of students of Greenwich stood up and denounced this program which had been proposed by the Greenwich Patriots.

“This group of Greenwich Patriots arguing over a learning environment that discusses inequalities and social justice issues in their lives is really pushing for an educational experience that shelters children, ignores uncomfortable topics and rejects the reality of life in the United States, “Greenwich High junior Esme Miller said during a sometimes tense meeting public comment session.

After 46 people registered to speak at Thursday’s meeting at Central Middle School, the school board hosted two public comment sections, one at the start and one at the end of the meeting, meaning that Miller spoke at around 11 p.m.

Many members of the Greenwich Patriots, a group of disgruntled parents and locals, and others at the meeting carried placards protesting the alleged teaching of Critical Race Theory, a controversial academic framework making it possible to visualize the systems of racism and oppression in America; the district’s continuing mask requirement that meets state guidelines; and the push to get students vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Their agenda is a threat to the ability of students at Greenwich Public School to be educated and active members of the community and of society at large,” Miller continued. “The city of Greenwich is a bubble of privilege. Ignoring what is happening in the world around us and in our own country would be very damaging not only to current and future generations of students, but also to our country and our world.

Another student from Greenwich High, Camille Arruda, spoke right after Miller and said she never learned critical breed theory in school but learned to think critically about the history of America. Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones has also repeatedly stated that Critical Race Theory is not taught in Greenwich classrooms.

Arruda said she felt belittled by the Greenwich Patriots, who have repeatedly claimed education suffered as topics such as grammar were replaced with ideological lessons.

“I refuse to support the idea that censorship and complacency is imposed on our education in order to avoid discomfort,” she said. “We need this discomfort to develop critical thinking skills, so that when we are faced with uncomfortable situations in our adult lives, we can react.”

One of the demands of the Greenwich Patriots is that the schedule and all educational materials be posted in advance for parent review. The calls come in response to a litany of incidents documented by the Patriots and their support for inappropriate lessons being taught in the city’s schools.

The topics of these lessons are broadly labeled by the group as politically liberal in nature and range from teachings on race, toxic masculinity, feminism, and LGBTQ + issues.

“My son learned what pansexual means, but not what a prepositional phrase is,” Kristen Niemynski said during public comments. “It is an academic failure of our schools. “

Other parents have raised concerns about the safety of COVID vaccines for students, highlighting the higher than expected incidence rate of myocarditis and pericarditis, especially among adolescents and young adults who have received the Pfizer vaccine. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring this situation and should further investigate reported cases of heart inflammation.

Parents have also expressed concern, my many doctors rejected, that wearing masks cuts off the oxygen supply and is harmful to those who wear them for long periods of time. A father said that maintaining the mask warrants was a form of persecution. Others attacked socio-emotional learning – defined by the association the children’s committee as “the process of developing self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills which are vital for school, work and success in life” – as a “vehicle” of critical theory of the race.

In response to speakers opposing it, people associated with the Patriots sometimes shouted “Racism backwards is racism” and “It’s like we are in Nazi Germany”, sometimes disrupting the meeting.

Many also argued that critical race theory amounted to Marxism, while at the same time invoking Martin Luther King Jr., whose views on race, they said, were more aimed at unifying the country.

But during his lifetime, King was a vocal critic of capitalism and a proponent of “a radical redistribution of economic and political power.” The civil rights leader was sympathizing with Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism and spent the last years of his life leading a Poor People’s Campaign, which called for, in part, full employment, a guaranteed annual income, anti-poverty programs and housing for the poor.

“We have to see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together … you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others … the whole structure of American life has to be. changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order, King wrote in a 1967 letter to the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

A relative, James Waters, questioned the motivations of the Greenwich Patriots and claimed they espouse disinformation.

“Tonight, instead of focusing on what really matters here – educating our children – you are going to hear voices spouting false information and refuting ideas about critical race theory, masks and vaccines,” said Waters. “Rather than engage in an unspoken rebuttal of obvious lies, I would like to share a personal story. I would like to tell you about some true American patriots who are quite different from those called that.

Waters went on to recount his 12 years leading Navy SEAL teams and the men he served with, whom he called “true American patriots,” not only for their service, but also for their humility and dedication. concern for others.

“I would tell you tonight that this humble selflessness is indeed credible patriotism. It’s based on genuine concern for others… without pushing a selfish agenda, ”Waters said.

[email protected]; @ justinjpapp1; 203-842-2586

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