A group of concerned parents in the Northeast Kingdom has formed to reject critical race theory being taught at local schools, and especially “affinity spaces” for children to talk about race with members from the activist group Building Fearless Futures.
Ben Morley is a parent who has children attending schools in the Orleans Central Supervisory Union. He has formed Fair Education for the OCSU as vehicle to help concerned parents respond to social justice-themed political material being targeted at their children
“Everything that we’re trying to do for our group is to resist this, but also have positive connotations, positive meetings about what things should be like,” Ben Morley, a parent with children attending schools in the Orleans Central Supervisory Union, told True North.
“We don’t want to just rip it down and demonize the teachers because we love the teachers, we think we have one of the best districts in the state,” he said.
Morley says he is especially concerned about a survey sent out by the local school that included a message about “OCSU affinity spaces.” The spaces, he wrote in a Facebook post, offer kids from the LGBTQ communities social justice training on “Antiracism/Classism/Whiteness etc.”
“In the trainings, participants learn about whites being a dominant class and the trainings attempt to re-define or broaden the term racism along with introduction of several other isms that seek to change your Child’s ideology,” he wrote.
Building Fearless Futures is the activist group that will be running the social justice training in the school-based affinity spaces. Morley said he spent some time looking up the group, which he called “radical.”
“In our equity committee at the Orleans Central Supervisory Union we have a member of Building Fearless Futures, which is an extremely radical organization,” he said.
The organization’s website says the group encourages “transformation” in people and understanding “our own … perpetuation of inequity.”
“The process of transformation means we cannot side step discomfort, we must move through it. We cannot engage in courageous analysis and actions within our companies without understanding the realities of what inequity really is, who we are and what our own relationship with the perpetuation of inequity may be – even when our intentions are good,” the group’s website reads.
Morley said that the organization may have some conflicts of interest because it contracts with the school and also has representation on the Equity Committee.
“They are sitting on our equity committee and they are actually contractors for our school system,” he said. “So you’ve got the person that’s responsible and the consultant for social justice determining how funds are going to be spent to contract with them in the committee.”
According to the minutes of the OCSU Equity Committee’s July 14 meeting, the members discussed a range of social justice issues, such as “safe spaces” and “dealing with more pushback because these things are now on people’s radar.”
Morely said he’s keeping track of what the social justice advocates are saying.
“They were talking about some things that were really strategic and would really push this orthodoxy, but also talking about everything that they’ve done so far as being tremendous and without having any pushback,” he said. “Though [now] there is a tremendous amount of pushback for parents.”
The OCSU Educational Support Team did not return TNR’s request for comment.