Normally as interesting as watching paint dry, school board meetings rarely garner the huge public attention that came Thursday, May 13, when the Summit School District Board of Education voted on its equity policy. The real story was not the attention given to the board but rather the amount of attention the board did not give to the public in attendance.
The board members, who are elected by the public to represent the best interests of students, muted public input at this important meeting where the primary agenda item was their vote on a new and controversial equity policy for the district.
Because of “time constraints” and other “important agenda business,” according to board President Kate Hudnut, about 20 people who had intended to make a public comment were denied access to the microphone and were not allowed to voice their opinions in this public forum.
The real question was why weren’t these parents allowed to make a public comment? Despite loud protests, including one person who said “people are pissed off like you wouldn’t believe” about the policy, the board refused to extend the public comment portion of the agenda in order to accommodate all public comments, no matter how long that would have taken.
As a former Summit school board member, I have participated in meetings that lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. That goes with the territory. For this board to refuse to extend the public comment period due to its personal inconvenience, and thus not hear from every parent and community person who had a right to be heard, is grounds for immediate dismissal of all current board members.
They ignored loud pleas from numerous parents to lengthen the public comment period at this meeting, allow every speaker their entitled three minutes, delay the vote on the policy to a future date, and schedule additional public hearings on this hot topic so that the public could give the subject a complete and transparent hearing.
Instead, the board members muted parents on Zoom and refused to give the public a full and open opportunity to express their opinions. Some of the speakers who were denied access to the microphone were conservative residents who opposed the policy. Could it be that the board did not want to hear dissenting viewpoints? That the board members already had their minds made up to pass this racist policy? That they were merely giving lip service to parents by inviting public opinion? Some parents thought it was an unfair and biased censorship of the opposition.
The Summit parents who oppose the board reflect a broad, nationwide movement by other like-minded parents actively protesting similar social justice policies in other school districts. The same day as the meeting, a representative from a parent advocacy group called Parents Defending Education said on Tucker Carlson Tonight that the group is busy helping parents expose political indoctrination, eliminating classroom activism and making school boards responsive to parental concerns.
This group helps parents understand the difference between equality and equity. Equality is defined as equal opportunity under the law regardless of a student’s skin color or other physical or social attributes. Equity is defined as equal outcomes regardless of a student’s merit and based solely on skin color and other physical or social attributes.
Several parents who got to speak Thursday noted that the board has not made a convincing case for the necessity of the policy and has not cited any specific examples of systemic racism in Summit schools. In fact, several district principals who spoke actually acknowledged that the district has a system that is fair to all students.
We already have racial equality within the school district, and we do not need racist equity. We should embrace Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy to focus on the content of one’s character, not the color of one’s skin. The board should concentrate on the three R’s — reading, writing and arithmetic — and leave social justice, sex education, religion and identity politics to parents.
As former Summit High School Principal Drew Adkins often said, “Teach, don’t preach.”
Kim McGahey is a former Summit school board member living in Breckenridge. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. A version of this column first appeared in the Summit Daily.
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