The Orange County Public Schools Board of Education recently passed a resolution that includes “next steps” towards “equity in education” for the district. That resolution includes phrasing about the Black Lives Matter movement.
The resolution was approved by the Orange County Public Schools (OCS) board of education on Sept. 14 and an email as sent to all OCS staff that included summaries of the main points of the resolution.
“Our district will not tolerate our students, families, and staff feeling unsafe in their own skin. We will continue to place value on building a culture dedicated to truth and respect for each person’s lived experience,” reads the email to staff.
The email to staff includes a link to the OCS “equity policy” for the district. The district refers to the districts “Equity Task Force” multiple times and a definition of “equity” in the policy which in part includes:
Equity is an interruption of systems, structures, policies, and practices which privilege some students while discriminating against other students. Strategies that promote equity are intended to ensure fairness by the following:
1. Countering biased behaviors that cause harm to specific groups.
2. Countering unfair policies, programs, and practices that consistently result in negative
outcomes for groups who are disadvantaged by these actions.
3. Negotiating, re-allocating, and sometimes re-imagining resources, opportunities, and supports when equal distribution of these things (one size fits all) results in inequitable outcomes that do not adequately meet specific needs and interests of all groups of students.
One of the points in the resolution includes “attending racial equity training.” The resolution does not give details but if other industries and districts are any indications, “white privilege” training or similar is on the menu.
The resolution itself has 15 points, the final one addresses Black Lives Matter, denying the words and movement are political statements and calls it “nonpartisan.”
“Recognize the phrase Black Lives Matter not as a partisan or political statement, but as an affirmation of the inherent value of the lives of our Black students, staff, and community members – and affirm that Black Lives Matter.”
Inclusion of such a statement could be seen as prepping the district to use Black Lives Matter materials.
Just a week ago, the president of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) tweeted out a link to a petition calling for all educators to “pledge to participate” in a Black Lives Matter activities at school over the 2020-21 school year. Read the full article here.
That “pledge” is directly tied to an organization called “Black Lives Matter at School,” which offers “free” materials to use in the classroom. These materials come from a variety of sources, including the Howard Zinn education project and the disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center and its activist propaganda arm, Teaching Tolerance.
Lessons target kids as young as pre-kindergarten. Another lesson included in the “Black Lives Matter at School” K-12 materials glorifies Assata Shakur, the woman wanted by the FBI for escaping from prison after being sentenced to life for her role in the execution of a New Jersey State Trooper.
Earlier this month, OCS Public Information & Community Engagement Officer Melany Stowe sent an email on behalf of Orange County Public School’s Chief Equity Officer Dr. Dena Keeling to all school staff details implementation of “Affinity Spaces” for staff.
The email goes on to say that an “Affinity Space” is a “safe space where people who share an identity can talk and support each other through individual and collective healing.”
Keeling provides more details about the “Affinity Space” directive, stating that “Given what I highlighted above, our first Affinity Space is for African American Staff. We are making these African American Affinity Spaces available starting this week and we will continue to make these spaces available throughout the year.”
Keeling’s email to staff also included gross generalizations and misinformation shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
While race seems to be a priority for OCS, the district’s sexual assault problem has yet to be addressed. In 2019, two teachers in the district were arrested on sex-related charges and another teacher was arrested for threatening to shoot up a school.
William Thomas Pendergrass III, age 60, was charged in Oct. 2019 with one felony count of statutory rape, two felony charges of statutory sex offenses, and three felony charges of indecent liberties with a child.
Stefan Winfried Anders, age 57, was charged with 15 class H felony counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor relating to a tip sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Kristen Michelle Thompson, age 38, was charged in May of 2019 with communicating a threat of mass violence, which is a Class H Felony thanks to a law passed in 2018. She worked at Pathways Elementary School in Hillsborough.