Scarsdale Public Schools implement book into middle school curriculum that tells people who are “white” to “step aside”
On August 22, 2022, an assistant superintendent of Scarsdale Public Schools spoke at a Board of Education meeting about implementing the book This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work into the curriculum taught to students in middle school. Assistant Superintendent Edgar McIntosh explained that the book was already used in a middle school “Social Justice Book Club” in the previous year “which included students and faculty members.” He continued to explain:
Seventh grade social studies and English teachers will come together to choose and use select parts of the 20 lessons that are included in the book. The faculty involved in the book club … found the book to be very student friendly and filled the need in defining terms that are often used but not always fully explained to students. It also builds on the identity work being done and the concept that diversity is not someone else but we are all diverse. [Time Stamp: 25:10]
The book promotes ideologies that demean certain groups of people in a a perceived effort to push other groups of people to success. One excerpt from the book states:
Be mindful of the space you are taking up. Black, Indigenous and other Folx of the Global Majority are continually silenced, talked over, and pushed aside. If you are BIPoC, take up space. Sit where you like. Go to the head of the line and bring other Black and Brown folx with you. Speak first. If you are white, step aside. You can help other white people to step aside too by sharing with them why you are not continuing to take up the space that was always given to you. You can also pause before you talk. The world is used to hearing the voices and stories of white people. Change the narrative. Check in with the Folx of the Global Majority. Living in a society that does not want you to exist is exhausting.
The school district has embraced the ideology of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” with a website dedicated to the issue. The website promotes policies, teacher training, and resources to promote equity and diversity. On April 12, 2021, the school district adopted a policy titled “Equity, Inclusivity, and Diversity in Education” that ensures the ideology is implemented into the curricula taught to students. The policy states that “it is imperative that the Board, District employees, and volunteers, and students understand the historical injustices and inequalities that have shaped our society and recognize and eliminate the institutional barriers, including racism and biases, that have and may continue to contribute to disparate educational outcomes within our schools.” The policy continues to explain:
The Superintendent or designee(s) will ensure that curriculum and instructional materials reflect our shared commitment to educational equity. Curriculum and instructional materials for all grades shall reflect diversity and include a range of perspectives and experiences, particularly those of historically underrepresented groups. Curriculum materials shall be reviewed and examined for bias on a regular basis. Class instructional activities and extracurricular programs shall be designed and implemented to provide opportunities for cross-cultural and cross-racial interactions that foster respect for diversity and inclusivity.