By John Klar
A school in Randolph, Vermont displays the BLM flag boldly but canceled a high school baseball team fundraiser for using Chick-fil-A products.
In an email to the community on April 11, school superintendent Layne Millington stated:
Chick-Fil-A as a company has stirred significant controversy across the country since 2012; for more information simply do a web search on Chick-Fil-A controversy. Because of the rancor this choice stirred in our communities, I recommended to the coach that they choose another fundraising partner of which the choices are nearly limitless, which he graciously accepted to do. As a public school district, we all have a responsibility to be reflective of the impact of our decisions on those we serve[.] … [A]s public servants we have a responsibility to try as best we can to be inclusive and to serve the needs of all students.
The Randolph Union High School (RUHS, home of the subject baseball team) displays the flag of Black Lives Matter, a far-left organization that openly calls for dismantling the Constitution and free speech rights.
Having canceled the fundraiser as planned, Superintendent Millington then appealed for a fuller conversation:
I would hope folks from all perspectives join in that meeting so that everyone has a chance to learn and grow from the dialogue and hopefully (said with genuine humor) we can also discuss what seems to have been forgotten — how any of this is beneficial to our athletes.
Arriving in 2017, Mr. Millington proclaimed he would prioritize academic improvement:
Some of the concern that’s come up over and over again is the SBAC scores—and with good reason,” he said.
At the top of the list is a struggle with mathematics, an area where RUHS students have floundered in the SBAC, the standardized test taken throughout the state for the past three years. It’s the area that Millington says needs the most work district-wide.
Test scores from 2018 to 2019 reflect a significant overall drop in math and English for grades 7, 8, and 9; 90% of the school’s 8th graders tested “below proficient” in math in 2019, versus 71% the previous year. The COVID disruption has likely not improved these kids’ test scores, but social justice indoctrination is in full operation.
Undermining the mathematical competence of the children must have been the anxious dread occasioned by the school’s mascot, a ghost (the “Galloping Ghosts of Randolph”). After complaints that “the shrouded ghost riding a horse looks like a KKK member in a hood” that “made students uncomfortable and feel unsafe,” educator Millington stepped in to “allow for meaningful conversations”:
Superintendent Layne Millington of the Orange Southwest School District announced the gym wall showing the robed figure would be painted over, and clocks throughout the school showing the same image will be replaced. Millington said he has seen mascot switches around the country become contentious, so he’s not holding any public meetings on the look of the Ghosts that could risk dividing Randolph. Instead, Millington said he hopes cutting right to a decision will allow for meaningful conversations about racial justice, and make diverse members of the school community feel respected and welcome.
Cutting right to a decision to kill a kids’ fundraiser for personal political preference surely will promote discussions about justice, and about making diverse members of the school community (perhaps even parents) feel respected. In an April 12 email responding to a parent, Mr. Millington claimed that the school’s regulations required him to police chicken brands:
It wasn’t a small number of people that were concerned; regardless, the decision would have been the same because of the district’s policies. …The district has a number of pertinent policies that require action on my part (see below).
The Superintendent shall not cause or allow any practice, activity, decision, or organizational circumstance that is unlawful, unsafe, imprudent, or in violation of commonly accepted educational and professional ethics and practices … [or that will] … [e]ndanger the organization’s public image, its credibility, or its ability to accomplish Ends[.]
Superintendent Millington has exercised unconstitutional “content-based” discrimination of speech, to advance extremist political “theories” of gender and white supremacy on a population of young people who are struggling with basic math. Perhaps schools should get back to their first failures before moving on to new ones: in addition to declining academic performance, Vermont “boasts” some of the most expensive per-pupil costs for public education in America.
Let us take to heart the words of the chicken master:
Orange Southwest Unified School District Superintendent Layne Millington said, “Anyone who is afforded the incredibly rewarding role of shaping children is given a sacred trust; anyone who violates that trust should face monumental consequences.”
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. This commentary originally appeared at American Thinker.