Milton Town School District meeting takes input on controversial equity policy

Michael Bielawski/TNR

FREE SPEECH?: The Milton High School library was packed with supporters and opponents of new equity policies under consideration by the local school district.

MILTON, Vt. — Vermonters both liberal and conservative expressed their views Tuesday night regarding a proposed education equity policy and related free speech issues at Milton High School.

About 100 attendees who showed up at the library at the school came to hear about a range of controversies in local education, and to express their opinions and criticisms to school leaders.

Two issues at the school involve redefining the meaning of white people and gender identification. One proposal states white people are those “whose skin color and culture lead to a lack of racialization as ‘brown,’ ‘Indigenous,’ or ‘Black’.” Another defines gender as “a person’s actual or perceived gender identity, or gender-related characteristics that are intrinsically related to a person’s gender or gender identity, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

One other controversial proposal has significant implications for First Amendment free speech. Concerning curricula, the proposal states, “All curricular materials and school-level instructional plans will incorporate superintendent-issued guidance of what constitutes misinformation, intolerance toward innate differences, hate speech, and stereotypical narratives or tropes. Examples of limitations include Holocaust Denial, Election-related Conspiracy Theories, or speech that targets protected classes or that is primarily intended to disrupt the education program.”

Milton Town School District

Milton Town School District Superintendent Amy Rex

Milton Town School District Superintendent Amy Rex told True North at the event that the goal of the proposed changes is to meet the needs of school children.

“I think regardless of where you are politically, your child has specific needs, and this is about honoring children’s needs regardless of what sort of political background they come from,” she said. ‘But if a child has something they need in order to access their education, then the idea of this policy is to make sure that they have those things so that they can be successful.

One local resident and concerned parent, Mary Callahan, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. Among other things, she said the proposed policy changes were predetermined and not taking place with proper public input.

“I would like to know how it is not a conflict of interest to have the same people who came up with this new policy be the same people who revise it, the same people who sit in a little group together every however often a month,” she said. “You’re not allowed to engage when you are there. I’ve been to several of [the meetings], and you’re not allowed to speak, you are not allowed to have any of your questions answered. … And then they are the same people who vote on it.”

Another issue of discussion pertained to state support of education based on race and ethnicity.

Brock Rouse, another parent who attended the meeting, noted that state support is higher for white kids due to Vermont’s demographics, not racism.

“Well 98% of Vermont is white students, so doesn’t that just make sense?” Rouse said. “But it shows you how data can be looked at in a negative light and you can get the answer you want.”

For most of the meeting, attendees were divided into multiple smaller discussion groups to discuss topics including curriculum and instruction, data assessment and resources distribution, discipline, and access, inclusion and professional growth. Each was led by one adult and one student. Attendees were permitted to join multiple subgroups.

During the curriculum subgroup, some parents asked what impact the proposed policy changes would have on free speech. Their concerns were collected and recorded.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR and Milton Town School District
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6 thoughts on “Milton Town School District meeting takes input on controversial equity policy

  1. I think I understand the equity policy to mean that if the issue is skin color you will be preceived as others see you (white, brown, or black, etc…) and if you are transgender you will be perceived as you perceive yourself, not how others see you. That seems to be inconsistent to say the least!

    This is not about encouraging students and faculty to treat each other with respect and fairness, it’s about coercing outcomes depending upon your differences–some will be more “equal” than others to make up for a preceived lack of “equity”. How does that help our children be best for each other and themselves? The answer: It doesn’t.

  2. Thank you for this report Michael!

    It’s worth mentioning that the technique of breaking a public meeting up into small groups — the Delphi Method — is completely antithetical to the “town meeting” approach and is designed to allow the organizers who already have a pre-determined outcome to appear as though they’re considering outside input.

    • When I hear the phrase “Delphi Method” used to describe small breakout groups, I have to chuckle.

      First, the Delphi Method was created to engage experts and people with problem-solving skills and not a random group of people throwing out biases and opinions.

      I’m not saying this was the intent but, the Delphi Approach can be used mischievously to create the illusion of collaboration and choice.

      Here’s how;
      Identify a slightly skilled, small group leader/facilitator who understands the actual intent. The small group leader can steer the group’s conversations toward predetermined outcomes or solutions.

      The group members can be cherry-picked to over-represent the predetermined outcomes or solutions. By overrepresenting one side, you can create groupthink, squash opposing views, or, discreetly intimidate dissenters.

      A skilled group leader can easily squash opposing members’ views AND make them look foolish by doing so, other dissenters are less likely to engage.

  3. there’s only two genders as stated by science, male female. Any other imaginary one is sign of mental illness and the people shouldn’t support them. As for White people we are not white we are more tan only Albinos show pigment of white. So if your not one of the griffters seeking money from whites your white Only a leftoid commie could confuse the obvious which the school system is full of..

  4. EWSD went through a similar process and the concerns expressed by parents are identical. Parents attending these meetings and expressing their concerns will not impact the outcome, which is predetermined by the highest level of our government. The USAID in a paper I reviewed defined equality as equal access to resources, while equity is the redistribution of resources institutional and financial to create equal outcomes. Equity is a UN 2030 Agenda and supported by the WEF. THE Biden Administration is executing the UN 2030 AGENDA/The Great Reset. Equity is socialism and Socialism Justice the outcome is a form of Communism. I was reviewing a paper published in the Journal of Educational Policy in phycho data mining children using Social Emotional Learning (SEL) children. SEL is related to equity and Social Justice. The paper stated that SEL needs to be understood for the political and economical control and management of the population. Let that sink in.

  5. I’ll be interested to see if there’s any commentary from Milton school district board members and parents. This is the place to make your points of view known.

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