Parents Defending Education has received incident reports and emails from several whistleblowers in the South Kingstown school district in Rhode Island, including parents and staff raising concern with the way that South Kingstown School Committee members are approving indoctrination in K-12 schools.
They have raised several concerns.
- On April 2, 2021, a social worker at one of the elementary schools sent out a message to parents, urging them to “pay full price” at The Collective, a local community organizing space in South Kingstown, R.I., for the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by critical race theory ideologues Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi. The message asked families to “support this amazing Peace Dale bookstore.” Peace Dale is a village within South Kingstown. One of the school committee members, Sarah Markey, is a paid teachers’ union executive. In addition to her title as an executive vice president at National Education Association-Rhode Island, she is also a co-founder of The Collective, the organizing space for whom the school staffer was drumming up business. It sells a small selection of books.
2. Over the past year, the local school committee has capitulated to demands from a group of South Kingstown student and adult activists, who started organizing in July 2020 under the name, “Toward an Antiracist South Kingstown,” or T.A.S.K. Whistleblowers have expressed concern over school committee members meeting with T.A.S.K. members but refusing to be transparent about those meetings. T.A.S.K. group submitted an eight-page list of demands to the school committee.
The list of demands included:
- “enforced implicit bias training,”
- “an independent complaints process so students and staff can report racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, or transphobic conduct from teachers if/when it occurs.”
- “Create and staff an Equity Office which will be tasked with driving the above changes and given the authority and autonomy to hold decision makers accountable.”
- “Have paid advisors, create a stipended position for an advisor for a new student organization: Students for Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice. Prioritize teachers/staff of color when awarding this stipend position.”
On July 22, 2020, the agenda for school committee business included “Discussion / Action” that responded to items in the T.A.S.K. list of demands.
As of 2024, the district said it will require an ethnic studies class to graduate.
The committee also approved:
- an audit of the curriculum to ensure it includes “cultural equity” and “representation of minorities.”
- the removal of out-of-school suspensions, except for cases of physical violence.
- requirement for all staff to take part in “antiracist” professional development activities.
The Independent, a local media outlet, reports that committee member Emily Cummiskey said:
“This is not an issue about our teachers or staff or administrators being racist. It’s an issue of a systemic and historical issue, in that we’re moving toward being antiracist.”
3. A PDF of the request for proposal for the “Professional Development Series: Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation” is linked above. Pricing is on pages 21 through 22.
This mission statement appears on page 23:
4. The current vice-chair of the school committee, Christie Fish, shared a document during the campaign for her current seat, entitled “Re-engaging the Community Notes.” It makes mention of “affinity groups,” as well as the claim that “people of privilege have the responsibility to reach out and offer support to under-represented groups.”
Several of the people who contacted Parents Defending Education from this district said they’ve been bullied, name-called and blocked by proponents of this “antiracist” orthodoxy.
The document for “Re-engaging the Community Notes,” however, demands that the school district create spaces aligned with these values:
- “A place to learn and grow from civil discourse.”
- “Can disagree but still respect one another.”
- “Diverse opinions are valued – Listen to those we don’t agree with too.”
- “Feel safe to disagree without consequences.”
- “Stop the divisive conversations.”
- “Not getting stuck on placing blame.”
According to those who contacted us, these values are not being promoted.
5. The ‘message of solidarity’ shared at the school committee meeting on June 9, 2020.
South Kingstown school officials say they’ll rectify ‘systemic racism’, The Independent, Aug. 6, 2020
BIPOC Advisory Board looks to create racial justice, equity in South Kingstown, The Narragansett Times, Jan. 4, 2021