Letter: The missteps of our school committee are troubling

Posted 11/12/21

The continuing missteps of our Bristol/Warren School Board are troubling. When looked at as part of a pattern of behavior and divisive discussion in our community and our nation, they are even more …

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Letter: The missteps of our school committee are troubling

Posted

The continuing missteps of our Bristol/Warren School Board are troubling. When looked at as part of a pattern of behavior and divisive discussion in our community and our nation, they are even more concerning.

Every major religion and moral philosophy encourage us to think of all of humanity as individuals to be equally valued. It is a founding principle of this nation.

It is natural for humans to categorize perceptions and to associate with others who are like us and to potentially fear others who are not. These unconscious biases are overcome through awareness and education or in the negative case reinforced; resulting in xenophobia, popularism, and in the extreme, racism.

The recent pattern of discussion and events in our community demonstrate this effect, and certain members of Bristol County Concerned Citizens provide disturbing examples.

This group emerged after the murder of George Floyd catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement, decrying it as an attack on our police. They lobbied strongly against adding a diversity and inclusion advisory group to our government; they emotionally lecture us that a cabal of minorities conspire to replace us by introducing critical race theory in our schools; that teaching children to participate actively in government is un-American. However, they remained silent when the school board overturned plans respecting a Jewish holy day.

They stand for ‘Traditional American Values,’ labeling others as “Marxists” leading us to a dystopian society. They amplify the false narratives of some media outlets, conspiracy theorists and self-serving, immoral leaders who appeal to the emotions of hate and the fear of others, using this division to gain power. History knows this type of popularism. Left unchecked, it doesn’t end well. Witness the events in Charlottesville and in Washington on Jan. 6.

What we do and how we conduct ourselves locally does matter, especially in how we teach our children.

These cynical views repeat in some members of our school board, who are failing in their responsibility to teach our children to respect the intrinsic value of all people. They have driven off a black superintendent after overruling his plan to respect a Jewish holy day and overturned a revered principal who had the audacity to hire a black consultant. What professional educator with a rational moral compass would want to work in this environment?

We are on our fourth superintendent in as many years. What young family would knowingly move here? Our school age population is declining, resulting in a loss of vibrancy and economy.

Encouraged by others, perhaps they feel righteous. If only they were self-aware and realized their tacit support of these dangerous viewpoints and took seriously their responsibility for moral leadership. Some of them have served for over 20 years and, regrettably, their actions teach us and our children hatred and division. They have failed our community and especially our children.

Leaders teach not only by their actions, but by how they act. True leaders are self-aware and set their bias on doing good.

Steve and Kathy Kloeblen
Bristol

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