A Message from Linda Waldbaum Newsletter Editor
The clash between New York’s education vision and the initiatives pushed by Moms for Liberty starkly illustrates opposing ideologies in the realm of public education. Despite its name, Moms for Liberty’s objectives diverge significantly from nurturing an inclusive educational system where freedom of thought is encouraged. Instead, the group’s actions seem to incite division and hinder the principles of diversity and equitable learning environments.
Moms for Liberty has garnered attention for advocating book bans, specifically targeting materials that delve into topics like race, sexuality, ethnicity, and discrimination. Its campaign against these materials is seenas contradicting the fundamental tenets of education and freedom: fostering open dialogue, nurturing critical thinking, and ensuring a comprehensive understanding of societal history.
In contrast, the New York State Board of Regents has taken strides towards a more inclusive and diverse educational approach. The adoption of a dignity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policy in May 2021 highlights their commitment to creating a learning environment that accommodates diverse perspectives and promotes equity for all children.
In a joint statement by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Commissioner of Education Dr. Betty Rosa on August 9, 2023, it was explicitly mentioned that teaching curricula that accurately portray historical information in a culturally appropriate manner is not only encouraged but a legal responsibility of NYS School Districts. They stated that “teaching and learning should, among other things, avoid the ‘danger of a single story,’ and ‘create opportunities’ for all students to learn from multiple perspectives.” The statement underlines the importance of continuously evaluating and updating teaching policies to ensure compliance with state and federal laws, particularly in addressing topics related to protected classes, such as race, national origin, gender and sexual orientation. Book banning campaigns put forth by Moms for Liberty look to silence specific groups and push forth a single-minded agenda.
Moms for Liberty opposition to initiatives like social-emotional learning and inclusive curriculum is at odds with creating a supportive learning environment. By labeling these efforts as divisive indoctrination, the group fosters an “us vs. them” narrative, disrupting collaborative efforts between educators, parents, and school boards. The group’s involvement in school boards seems more focused on polarization than on fostering unity or supporting a collaborative educational environment.
As the Plainedge community strives for enhanced educational standards, it becomes crucial to discern between groups genuinely advocating for progress and those impeding educational principles. The path toward an inclusive and equitable educational system necessitates cooperation and a shared commitment to embracing diverse perspectives within the learning environment.
Please see the link below for the full joint statement by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Commissioner of Education Dr. Betty Rosa. Additionally, I’ve highlighted the most important paragraphs pertaining to DEI from their statement.
Directly from the letter:
“In May 2021, the Board adopted a robust DEI policy. 4 This followed the publication of a DEI framework, in which the Board stated that it “is important for the Board . . . to establish and communicate to all New Yorkers its beliefs and expectations for all students—especially at pivotal moments in history.”5 In its policy, the Board adopted definitions of “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” developed by the University of California, Berkley Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity and the University of Houston’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion.6 The Board also articulated its expectation “that all school districts and institutions of higher education [would] develop and implement policies and practices that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion [‘DEI’]—and that they will implement such policies and practices with fidelity and urgency.”
Teaching curricula that accurately portray and analyze historical information in a culturally appropriate manner is lawful and encouraged. Conversely, failure to evaluate, monitor, and update teaching and learning policies, including with respect to the appropriateness of curricular choices in the classroom10 and student grouping across classrooms and schools, may violate state and federal law. 11 The OAG and SED further note that LEAs cannot abdicate their legal responsibilities in this area, even if requested to do so by some community members. Accordingly, school districts cannot respond to local electorates or stakeholders by banning curricular materials that accurately portray and critically analyze topics related to protected classes such as race, national origin, gender (including gender identity and expression), or sexual orientation.”