February 22, 2021
Dear President Boyle and Trustees:
The Rye City School District (RCSD) has engaged NYU/Steinhardt School’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (NYU/Steinhardt) to manage a “Race, Inclusivity and Community” Task Force on racism in RCSD schools, without a factual predicate of any racism. As you know, NYU/Steinhardt is deeply committed to fostering Critical Race Theory (CRT), a controversial ideology. Since its inception, the Task Force and staff members from NYU/Steinhardt have been meeting in secret, with no oversight by the greater Rye Community.
We agree that racism and lack of inclusivity have no place in RCSD. This is precisely the reason why a polarizing organization such as NYU/Steinhardt has no place in our community. The principals representing NYU/Steinhardt, particularly its Director, Natalie McCabe Zwerger, have made a number of inflammatory statements to other Westchester school districts and online. For example, Ms. Zwerger has a blog entitled “Everyday Race”, which leads off with the statement, “Dear white people: Let’s not continue to be our ancestors.” By its own admission, NYU/Steinhardt is deeply committed to CRT, and believes that “…white people have internalized messages, attitudes and beliefs about white supremacy, regardless of their intentions or awareness, and often act to perpetuate racial hierarchies in our schools and communities.”
RCSD has not established a factual predicate that justified the involvement of an outside consultant, much less one whose stated mission is promoting CRT. The content from an anonymous Instagram account is insufficient evidence for actions that could change RCSD for the worse. The constituency of the Task Force is also highly problematic. The Task Force is comprised of 27.7% of parents, 13.8% of current students, 9% former students, and 46% of teachers and administrators. The under-representation of parents and over-representation of RCSD staffers, mostly from social studies and English departments, indicate the potential for a lack of objectivity.
I and many other parents of children in the RCSD as well as taxpayers are deeply concerned about hiring a third party with such an extreme perspective and predetermined agenda, which could have a significant impact on curriculum for the future.
Therefore, the activities of the Task Force must be suspended immediately. The need for a Task Force must be discussed in public. The Task Force meetings and correspondence to date must be made public.
The need for the involvement of a third party must be subject to review by the community and thorough due diligence. We are attaching a petition with over 800 names, and growing, opposing your actions.
On behalf of Concerned Parents of Rye
oylCC: Dr. Eric Byrne, Superintendent