Berm curriculum unchanged in face of important race principle | Training
Given concerns about critical racial theory, Bermudian Springs School District Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss said the district’s curriculum will remain unchanged.
“We have an adopted curriculum that aligns with Pennsylvania state standards, and it has been in place for several years,” said Hotchkiss. “The curriculum for social studies and history, K-12, has not changed.”
Critical Racial Theory is a way of thinking about American history through the lens of racism. Scholars developed it in the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they viewed as a lack of racial advancement under civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
It focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in the country’s institutions and that they serve to maintain white dominance in society.
The headmaster’s response came after comments from Jennifer Goldhahn, a candidate on the Bermudian Springs School Committee in November, during the public comment section of the meeting.
Goldhahn called on the district to turn down nearly $ 2 million in COVID-19 aid known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER).
The district recently voted not to raise taxes to ease taxpayers’ burden during the pandemic. As a result, the 2021-22 budget is asking the district to transfer $ 2,170,492 from its reserve funds to make up for the remaining deficit.
ESSER aid funds can be used to a limited extent. Goldhahn’s concern arose from a possible use, the provision of educational justice, which Goldhahn called “systemic justice”.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education advises that educational equity should address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on specific groups of students, including: students from low-income families; Students of any race or ethnic group; Gender; English learner; Children with disabilities; homeless students; Children and adolescents in foster families; Students with a migration background; and other groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic by the local education authority.
Goldhahn asked for assurance that the curriculum did not mention concepts from Critical Race Theory.
“The concepts I am referring to are systemic justice, social justice, white privilege, white supremacy, and other concepts that create division and talk about children in terms of having and not,” she said. “It won’t focus on concepts of the oppressor and the oppressed, but instead will focus on concepts of what brings them together.
“History and civics are taught in a way that highlights the triumphs and blessings that have made America a place of hope and opportunity in the world, rather than focusing on divisive tribal or intersectional thinking,” Goldhahn said.
Hotchkiss made no assurances on details, but assured Goldhahn that ESSER funding is not dependent on the approval of a new curriculum.
“We see equity as access to a quality curriculum by breaking down barriers,” he said on Wednesday.
For example, the district has installed WiFi hotspots throughout the district to improve Internet access. It also provides additional support for students who speak different languages or have special needs.
Pastor Tyler Weidler of York Springs Four Square Church also recommended that the district not accept ESSER funds, as this would make the district dependent on the state.
Before petitioning the board, he prayed that board members “have the courage to know what is right, not just what appears right.”
He said his church has refused all paycheck protection program funding on this principle.
“You can be satisfied with what you have. You don’t accept things that you don’t deserve. There will always be conditions, ”he said, admitting that he hadn’t investigated any specific uses or expectations of the state.
In the upcoming school year, Bermudian Springs students may have to wear masks when traveling on school buses.
The district’s current health and safety plan does not require students to wear masks unless the state has required it. However, upon closer inspection, the district learned that there was still a mandate to wear masks on board public transportation, Hotchkiss said.
Until the district receives further instructions from the state Ministry of Education, the mandate will be followed, said Hotchkiss. Students who arrive at a bus stop without a mask will be offered one, he said.
“We don’t let a student sit at a bus stop for any reason,” he said. “We have to stick to the rules, that’s the expectation. But we want the children to go to school. “
On other matters, the board unanimously approved Shanna Danielson as the district middle school music teacher; Olivia Dyksterhouse as a middle school math teacher; and Jennifer Shelley as the new district middle school principal. Shelley was previously the assistant principal at Dover High School and East Penn Middle School.