Ignorant, Westport Parents 06880, brings CRT debate to Westport
Last year, I wrote an article about the new African American, Black, Latino and Puerto Rican Studies course. I was thrilled that the state was taking a step in the right direction by mandating all Connecticut public high schools offer this course, but I argued that the class must be required for all students. Now I write a little under a year later about an anonymous online collective, Westport Parents 06880, who have brought the war on critical race theory (CRT) to our community.
The group was founded in June of 2021 starting with 37 Westport parents who according to their website share concerns on the “increasing focus on assertions of racism in our community,” and have a mission of standing up to CRT, censorship and indoctrination in Westport schools.
The website also includes some statements from members of the group. One Long Lots Elementary school father states, “My wife and I believe that some things are best taught at home and in our church. We want the schools to focus on the academic skills necessary for our children to succeed in a global economy. Equal OPPORTUNITY for all, not equal OUTCOMES!”
A Staples mom writes, “I send my kids to school to learn how to read and write, add and subtract. They are not there to be guinea pigs in some “anti-capitalist” sociology experiment.”
Even more alarming are their criticisms of Superintendent Thomas Scarice’s plan to address the institutional and systemic racism in Westport through an assessment by the NYU Metro Center.
It is not enough for the school district to claim wokeness because we have a discussion in Connections class once a year about how we need to be an inclusive community. We need to take a deeper dive into these issues.”
— Ella Alpert ’22
The group claims that this organization is overly based on CRT with “a Marxist based ideology that seeks to divide people by separating them into groups based on power dynamics, with white people seen as white supremacist being dominant and all others being the marginalized groups of oppressed victims,” claiming that this way of thinking is damaging and creates division between school children.
The term “CRT” appears frequently throughout the website to convey their idea of Westport’s unhealthy infatuation with race. It baffles me how these parents come to this conclusion because as a student, I don’t think we learn about these issues enough. We have the units in social studies classes that cover the surface level of racial issues throughout our history starting with slavery, then the Civil Rights Movement, but we rarely dig deeper than this. It is not enough for the school district to claim wokeness because we have a discussion in Connections class once a year about how we need to be an inclusive community. We need to take a deeper dive into these issues.
I’m not suggesting that we follow through on the narrative that this group is trying to paint, one that suggests we ingrain young white school children with the idea that they are the oppressor, and students of color as the oppressed. There are educational and productive ways to have these conversations with students of all ages. In order to have a fully informed conversation on topics like current events and our country’s history, racism is a crucial part of this learning. Especially living in an environment that has been coined, the “Westport bubble,” students must be aware of their role in the societal hierarchies of our country and how these systems came to be.
I close this article with a sense of hopelessness. I can’t help but wonder which parents of my friends and peers support this movement, and the blatant ignorance that this shows. But I hope that the presence of this parents collective wakes other Westporters up to educating themselves on these issues, and engaging themselves in these crucial conversations.