Inside the Task Force, the Goal Remains Ensuring Access to All
I am writing in response to the series of misleading front–page articles about the Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force published by The Rye Record over the last several months. Rather than informing, they are causing unnecessary confusion, fear, and suspicion. As someone who is on the Task Force, I simply do not recognize the version of the Task Force I continue to read about in the pages of this newspaper.
The Task Force is composed of a wide range of people: parents, students, coaches, teachers, and school staff members, who answered Dr. Byrne’s public call for action in response to the painful stories told on the BIPOC at Rye Instagram page last spring. Since summer, we have come together monthly with the goal of identifying and changing the aspects of our school culture that allow these conditions to exist. This cannot be done by looking through a single lens; we must consider a multitude of perspectives to understand how our words, behaviors, and policies might impact each student in our community.
We are not looking to eliminate opportunity, or to engineer equal outcomes, we are working to create a safe, inclusive environment that allows everyone to access all that Rye City Schools have to offer. What seems to be lost in this discussion is this: A culture that ensures that the most marginalized students feel welcome and supported will be an environment more beneficial to all students — socially, emotionally, and academically.
While there is always room for good faith debate over the methods used to achieve our task force goals, I believe that if our goals and processes were accurately depicted, most residents of Rye would fully support our efforts.
- Rochelle Garnett
Editor’s Note: We have been reporting on the Task Force for months and find that it is to extremely difficult to report on its proceedings. The meetings are not public. No oral or written records are available. Participants have been warned not to talk to the press. And District officials have declined to be interviewed.
Consequently, we have focused our reporting on the statements of the Steinhardt Center, which was hired by the District to guide the Task Force. Hundreds of pages of journal articles, blogs, press statements, etc. have been read; and hundreds of pages referenced by the Center. We are confident that the paper’s representation of the Center — who they are, what they believe, and what they propose — is accurate.
We do receive reports as to what people say and do at the meetings, but with one exception — the expulsion of a student member of the Task Force — we have not reported on these conversations.
It would be beneficial if someone from the Task Force would speak publicly about its work. Secrecy serves no one. Residents do want to know the Task Force is influenced by Critical Race Theory (CRT) and “Anti-Racism”, which are the publicly stated goals of the Steinhardt Center.
Many Americans reject the tenets of CRT as fostering racism, division, and mediocrity. Rye citizens have the right to know if the Task Force’s position on CRT.