EWSD was All Ears

by Irene Wrenner

June 10, 2021

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Essex Westford School Board offered a forum for Public Comments in its special meeting on Monday, June 7th.

At least 208 people attended via Zoom, and 86 of them spoke to the board for approximately two minutes each.  Most people spoke about topics related to the proposed Equity Education process.

With the board’s permission, the meeting ran 45 minutes past its planned two-hour timeframe, in order to accommodate all the input.

Members of the public have complained in recent weeks that not enough time was allocated at regular meetings for this purpose. The board heard them and scheduled this additional meeting at which no business other than listening was conducted.

Unlike the separate meetings of supporters and opponents of Equity Education held on May 28th, this meeting offered the first opportunity for many members of the public to hear each other providing a multitude of perspectives, including the following:​

  • The only way to understand racism is to experience it, said a Black man. Be black for 4 days, 4 weeks, or 12 months.

  • You do not have permission to teach my son, who is a racial minority, that he is a victim because of the color of his skin.

  • We believe schools are exactly the location to learn from other perspectives.

  • I’m extremely dissatisfied to hear the student body being labeled “white privileged.”

  • Equity is not a zero-sum game. It’s learning from and doing better than the systems that have been developed over centuries.

  • Why, after this devastating past year and a half, would you present something like this that is so clearly causing more chaos in our community?

  • Adults and students need to be able to confront the stark inequities from the past that haunt us today.

  • Just because my child is white doesn’t mean they are privileged.

 

In response to recent conversations about the anti-racism efforts, Erin Maguire, EWSD Director of Equity and Inclusion, offered a two-hour session entitled Equity in EWSD, an Education Session, the following night.