Don’t doubt that the education establishment is moving forward with critical race theory.
In the course of my inquiries about the Equity Institute’s activities in the Portsmouth school system, I received this statement from Superintendent Thomas Kenworthy:
The Portsmouth School Department contracted with the Equity Institute last spring to conduct a third-party analysis that we can use to inform our work around equity. We have a Strategic Plan goal connected to ensuring equitable opportunities for all students and were at the point last year where we felt we needed this type of third-party review to inform our work. The report we receive will be reviewed and we as a district will determine what steps we take from there. There are very few organizations that could do this analysis and meet all of the guidelines we would insist on around transparency and a vetted methodology. The Equity Institute came highly recommended by several local districts that had worked with them. We have a signed agreement, reviewed and approved by our school department attorney, that safeguards student privacy and ensures that all state and federal guidelines applicable to conducting student surveys will be followed. Student survey questions were reviewed over the course of three community forum sessions. The Equity Institute took that community feedback into account before finalizing the questions being used for our Portsmouth analysis. Parents have been given the opportunity to both request to preview student survey questions and opt their child out of taking the survey.
I had asked whether (1) he thought it appropriate that the public could not review the surveys, whether (2) the aggressive secrecy of the Equity Institute concerned him, and whether (3) he thought bringing up notions of “gender non-conformance” with children as young as eight is appropriate. His answer, shown above, is essentially, “We want this as a school department and followed all the appropriate processes.”
Kenworthy’s response provides an important reminder for those of us who find this Balkanizing, racist trend in elementary and secondary schools disturbing. They really do think they’re doing important work and that we only object because of our unsavory biases. We will get no concessions, and they aren’t going to stop.
If you want it to stop, you are going to have to remove them from office, from the bottom to the top. That won’t be easy, and many families would be better off putting their money where their beliefs are and exiting the system.
The Portsmouth school system is down 192 students since the 2018-2019 school year. That’s 8%. Since its enrollment peak within the window of the state’s online data, during the 2003-2004 school year, enrollment is down 27% — more than one-quarter of all students, gone.
The district’s budget has not gone down, however. The earliest audit available on the town’s website is for the 2007-2008 school year, when the total school unrestricted expenditures totaled $33,451,958 (pg. 54). The most recent available audit is for 2019-2020, and it reports that numbers as $39,580,635. This 18% increase in spending combines with the decrease in enrollment over the same period for an increase in per-student spending of 44%! Would anybody claim this has corresponded with an increase in student results?
These are not the public schools in which we were educated. They’re not even the public schools they were five or 10 years ago. For the sake of our communities, we have to save them, but families should look to their own children first.
Featured image by Vahid Moeini Jazani on Unsplash.