Letters to the Editor


NewCanaanite.com recently received the following letter(s) to the editor. Please send letters to editor@newcanaanite.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.

Jim Kucharczyk


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,

Devan Markiewicz

8 thoughts on “Letters to the Editor

  1. Kudos to Sheri and Brian West and Jim Kucharczyk to their letters of support for DEI programs that will hopefully be implemented in our New Canaan Public School System. After all, were are living in the 21st century!

  2. The current BOE’s decision to remove DEI as an important element of New Canaan’s schools’ academic goals is bad enough in itself, but even worse it signals the intrusion of extreme conservative ideology into an important local issue. What was once considered an important form of public service by all members of the community has become a strategic objective of a broader political movement. This board’s objection to the concept of DEI echos the actions of school boards in other communities in which control of the local school board has become a key political objective.

    It’s of vital importance that all members of the New Canaan community, whatever the political affiliation, resist this movement, and fight to restore not only DEI but a school board made up of members of the community whose goal is to reach decisions based on what’s best for our students.

  3. Re diversity: What would really help our kids in this 86.8% lily-white town would be positive role models of non-lily-white races. Since Asians long ago beat the negative stereotypes against them, but blacks are still struggling to beat negative stereotypes, it’s especially important to have positive black role models. In fact, that would help all of us to beat racial prejudices, not just the kids. Positive black role models are even more crucial for school-age children in the 0.7% of New Canaan’s population that identify as black. There’s no reason black kids should grow up thinking the only careers available to them are professional athlete or prison convict.
    Statistics from “New Canaan!” New Canaan Advertiser special section issued 05/20/22.

    • Barbara, “Since Asians long ago beat the negative stereotypes against them”. Your statement somehow implies that Asians no longer face racism or negative bias, which I can tell you is patently false. Asians are the “Perpetual Foreigner”. My parents immigrated here in the 50’s and became US citizens soon after. Over 70 years later they are still seen as foreigners. My sister and I were born here and have lived our whole lives in this great country. Yet, many who look at us simply assume we are foreigners. Do I think that my own children and grandchildren will hear “Why don’t you go back to your own country!!!” in their lives. Unfortunately, yes. As for the lack of negative Asian stereotypes, I have heard many, and if you stop to think I am sure you may have heard these as well. We are the hard-working studious task masters, with no personality, and poor social and communication skills. We are good at math, but lack creativity, passion, or leadership qualities. We are thought of as not vocal or active, but quiet docile workers who will simply deal with what they are given without complaint. As for lack of role models, a recent informal survey asked US citizens if they could name a prominent Asian and 42% couldn’t name any, followed by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. So, for you to imply that Asians no longer face any challenges as a minority indicates that you really need to speak to more minorities.

      That being said, I have serious doubts that a DEI class or program will somehow change some of these perceptions and biases. Or that an instructor can convey experiences as a minority sufficiently to change the fact that we are just not a very diverse town. In my opinion much of this does need to be taught and reinforced at home, as each child’s experiences as a minority or member of the majority may be different. It is no easy task, but it is one that we should see as our moral and patriotic responsibility.

  4. Barbara, I greatly appreciate your sentiments but I would like to share my opinion on some of your statements. All of my friends in New Canaan who are people of color, Black, Hispanic and Asian, are highly educated, self-made people who have excelled in finance and business. None of them are afraid to speak their mind. None of their children believe their only options are drug dealer or athlete. Many Asians who continually endure a rising number of hate crimes and racism would disagree with your generalization that we’ve “long ago beat the negative stereotypes.” Sentiments like that, where Asians have overcome but Blacks need role models, is a prime example of how well meaning efforts to be anti-racist instead have the possibility to demotivate and divide. This discussion is about educating New Canaan children, not the world at large. The effort to help our children be the best possible human beings is a long, daily labor of love which begins and ends with the family and is reinforced by the community. Experts have never determined the success of a school district, parents do. In this effort, we must discard our own stereotypes and build a wide ranging, broad-based coalition and get buy-in from as many parents in the community as possible. When we start bucketing races between our biased perception of winners and losers we start to divide and lose credibility, and when we lose credibility we lose our mission. When we start grasping for acronyms and slogans because everyone else is doing it, we lose our innovation. Our BOE is doing an excellent job, and I commend all of them. To continue to be the best, we need to be the most thoughtful, innovative and daring, not copy what we see around us. All of our children are wonderful, and all of them need the best effort from all of us. I am proud of our BOE, I love the work they have done around the curriculum goals, and I believe that we have the single best, most responsive Board of Education in this state.

  5. James Yao, you are right. And for similar sentiments, Jonathan Cheng, also. I have seen reverse discrimination against Asians, where someone sees an Asian they’ve never seen before, know nothing about, but they think s/he looks like a genius. No thought that the individual might be good at art, not math, or any other talents. That applies to people from India, too.
    And, yes, despite how many generations Asians have been here in America, most people seem to assume any Asian here is fresh off the boat (or airplane). That’s a lot better than the discrimination that blacks and Hispanics face, but we still have a lot of work to do.

    • Barbara, Just some further education.
      1) People from India are considered Asian, and in many cases, face similar challenges.
      2) Yes, we are not all good at math. It is also, possible that an Asian child does not excel at Art or other discipline and are just “Average” B students.
      3) I am not sure what you mean by “Reverse Discrimination”, but some of these stereotypes have been shown to hurt college admissions and the ranks of senior management levels at many companies (Bamboo Ceiling).
      4) However, as Jonathan has pointed out, comparing how different races are discriminated against and judging that one form of discrimination is better than another only serves to further divide. I am not sure what point you are trying to make in your comment, other than that you should really speak with some minorities.

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