Equity Question from a Constituent…

Earlier this week I received an email from a constituent that I think touches on really important considerations for our community and our upcoming general election for School Director.

In the interest of transparency, while I have removed the identity of the constituent, I wanted to share my full and un-edited reply. The focus of the email was on Equity, the district’s current Mission & Goals, and what changes I would propose (if any) as a School Director. Here is my reply…


Hello _____,

Thank you for your question.  I have read _________ recent articles on the local elections so I appreciate you taking the time to better understand my position and how it specifically relates to our community and the West Chester Area School District.  

Please see below for my replies to your specific questions:

  • Are there any components of the WCASD Equity Mission or the School Board’s published equity beliefs, mission, and goals (https://www.wcasd.net/Domain/6196) that do not align with your position on social justice, race, and equity? If so, please elaborate and describe the changes you would support or for which you would advocate as School Director.
    • I have no objection to the spirit of the WCASD Mission or Goals, rather I have concerns about our methods of achieving them.  And the transparency of those methods.  
    • Here are some of my specific concerns…
      • Teach an inclusive curriculum that teaches anti-racism, celebrates differences, promotes understanding, and seeks multiple perspectives.
        • We have first hand accounts from multiple families whose children have come home feeling ashamed of their race as a result of the equity curriculum.  
      • Promote a positive school climate in which students feel safe, respected, and appreciated.
        • While I fully support awareness and the teaching of kindness and acceptance, and learning from history, I do not agree with lessons that teach children – who by most accounts are light years ahead of us parents in terms of equity – to feel bad about themselves or their ethnicity (no matter what it is).  
        • I have personal first hand experience with my own child being given reading material, at the age of 8 as a rising 3rd grader, that did exactly what I described above. And I am not the only parent to experience this.
      • Provide on-going professional development to all staff in all aspects of equity.
        • No objection to this per se, but would want to find a replacement for the Pacific Education Group training currently in use.  
      • Engage staff, students, parents, and community members in our work.
        • The district, and current board, have been extremely hostile and dismissive in its engagement with those of us who have asked questions or expressed concerns.  That is hardly the stuff of collaborative “engagement”.  
        • For example, participation by current staff and board directors on the Facebook group “Concerned WCASD Constituents” not only discourages parents from being engaged, it is causing many families to leave the district.
      • Provide equitable access to district programming.
        • Turning a deaf ear to valid questions and concerns is not very inclusive or equitable, and the district as a whole needs to do better.  
  • Are there any WCASD curriculum changes or training/professional development changes you feel are needed in order to align with your position on social justice, race, and equity?
    • Yes – first and foremost I would recommend a full review & assessment of our ongoing contract with the Pacific Education Group (PEG).  Obviously there is much evidence of its grounding in critical race theory, but even if you take the idea of “Courageous Conversations” at face value there is evidence in WCASD that it has not significantly improved our racial equity gap for African-American and Hispanic students.  So why would we continue to spend the money if the investment has not yielded the intended result?  I had a conversation with Dawn Mader this spring that essentially confirmed that we are nowhere close to where we should be given what work has already been done.  
    • Furthermore, many of PEG’s early adopters have since terminated their contracts for a variety of reasons – first and foremost being lack of academic improvement for minorities – and often because of the hostile culture it brings to the school community.  Teachers have expressed fear in large part because of the PEG protocols that dictate the context of the “Courageous Conversation” before it even occurs.  To disagree with those protocols means they risk being labeled a racist – not a farfetched fear given what has occurred in our own community as of late.  
    • As an alternative to PEG and “Courageous Conversations”, I have been studying the work of Mr. Robert Woodson, Founder of The Woodson Center and the 1776 Unites organization, which has published a comprehensive curriculum that is based on the principles of The Woodson Center.  Principles that I feel support the Equity Mission and Goals of the greater West Chester Area School District. 
  • Do you support PA House Bill 1532? Why or why not? 
    • PA House Bill 1532 is an interesting question as I personally feel this is a piece of legislation that will be viewed out of context given our current political climate.  While it currently has bipartisan support, it is viewed as an attack on Critical Race Theory.  Proposed a year ago during the riots, or 10 years ago during more peaceful times, it would have been viewed as a call to end racism as it exists today.  My hope for the bill, or any similar legislation, is that it stays focused on the outcome and that is to stop racism for all ethnicities.  I hope that is something we can all agree on.  

If you explore my website (FriendsOfStaceyWhomsley.com), you will also find that I have written many posts about my perspective on curricula that is based on a message of unity yet still historically accurate.  Given recent events in our community this is needed now more than ever as our children observe how the adults of our community have behaved during the primary and prepare for the upcoming general election in November.  

I hope my replies above have clarified my position as a candidate and perspective as a parent in this community.  I am happy to discuss further if you wish, as I think clear and open dialogue is critical to the success of any relationship.

Best Regards,

Stacey

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