Guilford faculties fairness initiative positive factors group help as opposition persists

GUILFORD – Supporters of the Guilford Public Schools Board of Education appeared dressed in Guilford Green for a meeting this week to petition in support of the panel’s actions.

The petition, launched by parishioners to support the district’s justice initiative, garnered around 1,200 signatures.

The petition was read out by Rachel Daniels during the public comment section of the meeting. It states that all children and students deserve a safe, equitable and inclusive learning environment, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or language.

“We support diversity, equity and inclusion in our schools to ensure that every child’s needs are met with well-trained and supported teachers and a curriculum that takes our differences into account,” Daniels read.

Some Guilford residents, including new Republican candidates for the Board of Education, said the school district teaches critical racial theory, a controversial academic framework through which to look at systems of racism and oppression in America.

School district officials have denied this claim and there has been no evidence that critical racial theory is taught in Guilford or anywhere else.

The petition also states that politicians and experts have tried to “undo our history, legislate what teachers say, prescribe outdated and inaccurate lesson plans, and insist that talking about diversity is ‘divisive'”.

Two other women, also dressed in green, read comments during the public session.

Kristine Ford, a 1997 graduate of Guilford High School and a parent of students in the district, said she believed she received a good education but left the district without learning about racism.

“I didn’t know the words Juneteenth, Redlining, Sundown Towns,” said Ford. “I really did think slavery was something that only happened in the South. Little did I know that not everyone can go into a store and not be watched closely, or that the only thing to worry about is being stopped for speeding when your parents find out.

“All I knew was my own experience,” she said.

Ford said she wanted it better for her children, who “need to be empowered to be self-aware and understand our entire history and how it continues to affect us today.”

Ornella Rullo also spoke during the meeting and read 13 comments from the petition. One person said the justice and social justice work was essential and long overdue.

“There is a well-funded, nationwide campaign to stir up racial fears among whites, and I am just embarrassed that this campaign has caught on in our city,” Rullo read from a statement by another supporter. “The fact that there is backlash against Guilford schools trying to promote racial justice is evidence that the school’s efforts are urgently needed.”

Rullo said a former director of Guilford Public Schools supported the work of the board and superintendent Paul Freeman and encouraged them to continue the initiative.

“How can it be that we need a petition to convince people that teachers should teach the truth? Admitting injustice is the only way to keep it from happening, ”Rullo read. “Teaching our children justice means teaching our children justice, compassion, kindness, and humanity. It is crucial for the survival and prosperity of our society. “

However, some turned to the board of directors about rejecting the initiative.

Bill Maisano, a Republican candidate for the board of directors, attempted to speak about the GOP caucus but was reminded that elections cannot be discussed during a public session.

Another Republican candidate for the board, Danielle Scarpellino, said the petition got on her desk.

According to Scarpellino, parents have sent her emails asking for help, adding that children are receiving the petition through their own means of communication. She said her kids got it too.

Scarpellino said the children received screenshots of the Truth In Education website with disparaging remarks about the new school board candidates.

Truth In Education, which Maisano and Scarpellino supported, is an organization whose goals are to expose critical racial theory and end the “indoctrination” of Guilford students in critical racial theory. Freeman has stated that the district schools do not teach critical racial theory.

Scarpellino said the screenshots highlighted her concern and those comments will not be part of the petition, but children will hear them.

She asked the board to listen to her concerns and said not all of them agreed with the district’s initiative.

Colby Cortese, a senior at Guilford High School, said some community members want to teach students that racism and slavery are a thing of the past. She said it was not anti-American to recognize the country’s past.

“Denying systemic racism for white convenience is anti-American,” Cortese said, adding that a commitment to racial justice is an integral part of the American spirit.

“Education is not just about serving the interests of white students by lying about our nation’s history and ignoring the problems our nation is facing today,” said Cortese.

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