Connecticut parents argue over program
One group said teachers should not teach outside of the curriculum, but others said race and gender topics should be discussed.
SOUTHINGTON, Connecticut – Dozens of residents, parents and students showed up at the Southington Board of Education Thursday night after a handout containing controversial material was distributed in a 10th grade English class at Southington High School, according to the superintendent.
According to a segment from Fox’s America Reports, the spreadsheet in question included terms such as white privilege, social justice, and transgender, among others.
A heated debate took place inside the council chamber as residents, parents and students made public comments. One group said teachers should not teach outside the curriculum without parental or board approval, but others said race and gender topics should be discussed.
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“As a parent, I don’t agree with these political theories being taught to my children,” said a Southington parent who made a public comment to the council on Thursday.
“Censoring students of identities and topics discussed socially and in literature is a threat to both the education and safety of our students,” a senior from Southington High School said in a public comment.
Tensions were high ahead of the meeting as members of the Families for Freedom group gathered outside the municipal building. They encountered opposition from other participants.
Families for Freedom founder Susan Zabohonski has children in Southington public schools and is concerned about teachers teaching outside of the curriculum.
“We want parents to have the first say in what their children are taught no matter the worksheet. We want a policy change that teachers won’t teach outside of the curriculum,” she said.
On the other hand, other parents and students FOX61 spoke to on Thursday were unfazed by the worksheet.
“I think we read books that talk about very deep and difficult subjects to talk about but if we can’t talk about it with respect, I don’t understand how we can talk about literature in general so I think it’s important that talk to us about these issues,” said Dante Napoletano, a high school student from Southington.
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“To politicize a lesson – information provided to students not trying to change their beliefs but trying to educate them on the meaning of certain words and phrases, I think it just went beyond that,” said Elizabeth Johnston, a relative from Southington. .
In addition to the public comments, the board members and the superintendent also made statements.
The superintendent said the material has been reviewed. He said the teacher now realizes that the sources may not have been neutral.
“After investigation, it is very clear that this teacher had no bad intentions,” said Superintendent Steven Madancy.
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“We recognize that our processes were not followed regarding this material,” said board chair Colleen Clark. “But I regret that a personnel matter involving one of our teachers and our schools has been turned into a political platform by those with non-educational agendas.”
Going forward, the superintendent recommends that staff teaching content on complex issues receive additional training on how to approach them and consult with colleagues, department heads or administrators to determine if the material is appropriate.
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