NewCanaanite.com recently received the following letter(s) to the editor. Please send letters to email@example.com for publication here.
Imagine a world where everyone is able to build authentic bridges to people whose lives are different from their own. Imagine a world where differences in race, religion, gender, sexuality, and abilities disappear in the background. Imagine a world marked by respect, trust and understanding.
This world will require intention and work. It must begin by naming the intention: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As you know, the DEI district goal was carefully and intentionally drafted, in response to feedback that we must do more as a district to create a welcoming space for all. The goal is essential because schools with DEI priorities are proven to produce students with cultural awareness and critical thinking. “Students learn and enrich their abilities to think critically and creatively as they engage in conversations across difference, especially when all learners’ abilities and attributes should and are embraced.” (Edutopia)
I urge you not to back away from the DEI language because it has become “politicized”. It’s true that DEI is a term that is misunderstood by many, but I encourage you to dig in to better understand the importance of it. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that every Board member read Inclusion Revolution by Daisy Auger-Domínguez or How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive by Jennifer Brown or listen to Brave Discussions: DEI & Belonging by TED@Work.
This would also be an excellent topic to leverage an expert. Truly excellent Boards leverage experts when making tough decisions on subjects where they lack expertise. In the past, we have relied upon experts often; from safely re-opening our schools during the pandemic to transportation routing to social emotional intelligence. There are many DEI experts in the local community, including the social justice librarians at the New Canaan Library, that you may access.
Finally, rather than think of DEI as a “distraction,” I urge you to think about the importance of this work in the context of the world we live in. New Canaan Public Schools has always shined a light on what’s possible in public education, and now, we have the opportunity to show what’s possible in creating a truly welcoming school community with a culture of respect, trust and understanding. This, in fact, may be the most important work of all.
Sheri and Brian West
When my own kids were developing their higher education short lists 15 or so years ago, it was always understood and occasionally even said out loud by an admissions officer that the last thing elite colleges and universities were looking for was another white applicant from Fairfield County. Incredibly, New Canaan’s Republican Board of Ed representatives have apparently decided to shrink the eye of that needle even further: the very last thing elite colleges and universities will be looking for is another white applicant from a Fairfield County school district that rejects a policy on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Every most selective and almost every highly selective institute of higher learning in the United States recognizes DEI as a value and has policies in place to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive student bodies. Every Fortune 100 company has a DEI Policy to develop more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. Our Republican BOE members must exist in a very rarified environment indeed to think less exposure to DEI will somehow benefit New Canaan’s students as they prepare for a world outside this unique bubble. Apparently, the zealous support of the national Trumpian agenda is far more important to them than the lifelong success of New Canaan’s students.
To the Editor:
I look forward to attending the 6th Annual Community Addiction Awareness Vigil coming up on September 1st in downtown New Canaan!
Last year I was extremely fortunate to have been asked to be one of three speakers at the 5th Annual event, this experience has become a monumental moment in my recovery journey and I’m still riding a natural high from it.
Prior to taking the stage that evening I had only shared my experience, strength and hope on a much smaller group level such as twelve step meetings, treatment centers, and sober living facilities. Getting the opportunity to be a part of sharing the message of hope and healing via my own personal experience on a public level has become the ultimate gift in my sobriety! As we say, “we are only as sick as our secrets”. My mother and sister were in attendance and being able to have them there to witness all the love and support for such an incredible cause was simply priceless.
Each year that we can continue to grow this event we can continue to break the stigma and help all those suffering directly and indirectly from the darkness of active addiction.
Please join us as we celebrate recovery as a community and support those in need! With Gratitude,