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.


As a lifelong Republican who grew up in New Canaan, the daughter of a former long-serving RTC member, and a resident who returned to my wonderful hometown to raise my own children, I am appalled and disgusted by this weekend’s RTC email urging all Republicans to support “GOP BOE members as they stand strong” to block DEI goals in our school district.

Please, get partisan politics out of our school system.  Enough already.  Stand down now.  The RTC has no role in our students’ education.

Furthermore, no sitting BOE member should be actively involved with either political party.  This is a huge conflict of interest and serves only to further divide our town and turn what should be purely educational policy decisions – designed in the best interest of supporting ALL New Canaan students – into political fodder.  To the current BOE members who are current members of the RTC, recuse yourselves from the RTC or resign from the BOE. 

DEI will teach our students to see past color and differences of all kinds and value classmates equally.  DEI is about human empathy, understanding and respect.  It is about making all students feel safe and valued in our school system and about preparing our students for the incredibly diverse world awaiting them the minute they step outside of New Canaan.  It is not political.  DEI enriches education, it does not take away from it.  For those trying to block DEI, you will shortchange all students and prevent them from being fully prepared to thrive and excel in the diverse world they will need to navigate soon.

For a town with an A+ ranking in academics and a C- ranking in diversity, this is a much-needed addition to the curriculum that will strongly benefit our students, our citizens, our town and even our property values.  It is not an indoctrination.  It is not a progressive agenda of any sort.  DEI is not divisive; its goal is the exact opposite.  The RTC’s efforts to turn DEI into a political issue are highly offensive and flat out wrong.  The only people making DEI political and divisive are the RTC and its strident followers.  Stop.  This is grossly unacceptable. 

To the RTC, hands off the BOE.  To my neighbors and fellow residents, regardless of political party affiliation, now is the time to get your brave on and use your voice to stand up for diversity, equity, and inclusion for all.  We can and must do better, New Canaan.

Gretchen Meyer Russell


Dear Editor,

Electing those that are proven and represent your value system and priorities is paramount to each of us, regardless of your gender, race, religious beliefs, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. We have the opportunity to vote for proven leadership with tangible results in the brand new 42nd State Representative District. Kim Healy is that person. She represents a pro-growth economy with transparent financial accountability and without new taxes and unnecessary regulations. Kim, a seasoned CPA, has decades of public accounting experience as a financial services leader and has been committed to community volunteerism at all levels for most of her adult life. She will hold those in Hartford to make decisions based upon facts and insist upon prudent planning, budgeting, and monitoring. It’s time to do what is right, not just what is easy. Vote wisely. Vote for Kim Healy.

Anna Marie Bilella

10 thoughts on “Letters to the Editor

  1. This is a great letter – we also strongly urge the BOE to reinstate the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the NCPS goals. We very much believe that a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion benefits all students. It should speak volumes that major corporations and investment banks are all prioritizing DEI initiatives – it should not be made a political issue – and it’s appalling to us this work even has to be defended. Furthermore, we agree there should be no place for politics when it comes to our schools and our Board of Ed.

    • Thank you so much for speaking up in support of DEI initiatives in our schools.

      DEI is not political, I totally agree with you that politics have no place in our BOE!

  2. Thank you! I agree. The BOE is clearly serving their own political agenda – not the parents and children of New Canaan.

  3. Thank you so much for speaking up and calling attention to this matter. There are numerous ways we can and should incorporate this work. The BOE’s hyper focus on race shows how little they know about what DEI truly means. Even more telling is their refusal to seek guidance from third party experts. As a community, there is a way for us to get behind this and ensure all students feel safe, valued and supported. We need to be willing to find a way.

  4. Thank-you for pointing out the inherent conflict of interest between serving on our Board of Education and also being a Member of a Town Committee (RTC or DTC) at the same time. Service on the BOE is intended for indidivuals who want to work towards best practices and to ensure that our Town maintains the highest quality of public education. In the past the two parties have agreed on this goal. But now, for no legitimate reason we risk losing that pursuit of excellence. Well said!

  5. If politics shouldn’t be part of the BOE, why are there partisan signs up all over town to campaign for those roles? I think it misleads the members and community to the point of these jobs. I wish in BOE campaigns the partisan affiliations would be muted altogether so we could get a better look at the individuals.

    I am shocked that DEI could be claimed to be owned or ignored by any party. I had thought this was a core American value- and simply one that supports ‘all are created equal’. Is it not?

    Many thanks to Gretchen and Lucy for articulating this so well in their recent letters, which I hope represents the majority of the community- and that the community will now speak up more on this.

    BOE members that voted for this exclusion – how can you defend this decision? You need to stand up and explain yourselves. You were elected into seats assuming that you would represent the best interests of our children and their future. This decision does not do that.

  6. We couldn’t agree more, Gretchen. The New Canaan RTC should not be promoting partisan allegiance to influence the district goals created annually by our historically non-partisan BOE. Thank you for putting in writing such an elegant summary. New Canaan is becoming infamous as a battleground of partisanship in education. We are alarmingly close to becoming “that community” that has a reputation of being unwelcoming, close-minded and divided to the point that we now need a police presence at Board of Ed Meetings. Teacher morale is at an all time low. Isn’t making everyone feel welcome and included (including our teachers) at the heart of DEI?

  7. Gretchen:

    Thank you for this LTE. I, too, had a visceral reaction when I read the Sept 2 email from the RTC. There is clearly willful politicalization of the BOE, and it is not productive. The election is over; it is time for measured and mature governance, not battle lines and outrage.

    Further, I do not agree with statements made in the RTC mailer. The email states “ We have known for too long that the focus of our schools has moved far afield from the academic rigor we need them to provide, and instead become incubators of divisive politics and radically progressive agendas.” I literally have no idea what the RTC is referencing here. I have not seen any evidence of lack of academic rigor or radicalization in our district, so I have to assume the RTC is referencing some other school district, not own own. Yet, the mailer then calls us to “stand strong” against these issues – despite them not existing here. I don’t get what battle I am being asked to fight.

    Most important in all of this, for me, is that the tone of our discourse in New Canaan has turned accusatory, sour, combative. This is not the tone I want to set with my neighbors, and I would ask our elected and political leaders to bring it down a notch. Let’s talk as if we were across a yard from each other. Let’s hear different perspectives and try to find middle ground, not start every conversation with conclusions, and weapons, drawn.

    And for heaven’s sake, if we have to draw battle lines, the Sept 7th BOE meeting is not the place to do it. Save it for a political arena.

  8. The exasperation and emotional sucker punch this author is expressing is exactly how so many of us across town are feeling at this moment.
    Let’s all look in the mirror and be honest – no one moved to New Canaan for the Diversity it offered. But many of us, who are not second generation New Canaanites (or even Nutmeggers for that mater) did move to a town that was picturesque, quiet, deeply community minded, highly educated and had one of the best (and occasionally the best) school system in Connecticut. We were attracted to the focus on that said education, the best efforts of a school system that did not mirror reality to at least reflect the reality outside the borders in our schools.
    The bizarre, fearful word salad that the current slate of RTC supported Board of Education Members proposes should worry every one in this town. Not just because if offers up nothing that can benefit even one student but also because it reflects the worst of the rhetoric being spewed from rally pulpits about white exceptionalism. And before we rest, their desire to remove DEI is only one of their anti-education goals.
    Efforts to replace Science, Fact, Truth and Reality with some vanilla based myopic lens will only send our children into the world deeply unprepared and unable to compete with their peers nationwide.
    Why would the RTC want to make our students suffer for their own inability to grasp the current world order.
    I echo the commentator above who is aghast at politics in education; as a lifelong Democrat I consistently supported the former quality and qualified Republican members whose only agenda was our students success.

  9. I too wish to endorse Gretchen Meyer Russell’s spot on reaction to the cutrent controversy. It’s always more important to have an insider’s assessment than an onlooker’s.

    We might reasonably expect the BOE to propose the development of more precise, actionable definitions of DEI during the year ahead. Instead, members of the BOE are preemptively dismissing the value of “experts” as part of a clear objective to reduce the concept’s value to students, the ones who will soon need to know how to cope with diversity, inclusion and equity in the real world.

    Thanks, Gretchen.

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