Westport School District Partners With NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; parents object


In a memo on June 4, 2020, to the Board of Education members, the incoming (at that time) superintendent of schools outlined his Goals for the Strategic Entry Plan and emphasized “the need for a decisive response and sustained action to combat centuries of systemic and institutional racism [which] warrant the full and complete attention of the school district.” p.18

I feel compelled to put forth a goal, one that ought to live beyond this one year plan, to bring action to our collective efforts in Westport to combat systemic and institutional racism. Perhaps the front of this centuries old battle nests in communities like ours in how we are not only developing policies and systems to combat inequities in our institutions, but also in how we are fostering the capacities of our children to advance the cause for a more just, anti-racist society.

Thomas Scarice, Strategic Entry Plan: Draft Transition Goals for 2020-2021 School Year

On June 11, 2021, a Westport resident and parent addressed the board in a letter, expressing concerns about the “possible direction of DEI Committee’s Equity Study and proposed “systemic multi-year action plan” being developed with the NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of School–Innovation in Equity and Systemic Change (“NYU Metro Center”). I understand that the study is still in process and that no action plan has yet been formulated. However, based on what I have come to learn about the approach of the study and positions and recommendations adopted by the NYU Metro Center elsewhere, I urge the Board to consider the concerns noted below as it moves forward.”

In a Board of Education update, Westport Public Schools discussed their partnership with NYU Metro Center.

In another letter, a different community member expresses concerns about the school being associated with NYU Metro Center: “Without having the benefit of detailed information regarding exactly what the Metro Center is looking to review and accomplish with its Equity Study, I have taken it upon myself to review the Metro Center’s website, and it raises a number of questions and potential issues with the proposed Equity Study.”

Their seventh point takes issue with the “Services” section of NYU Metro Center’s website:

NYU Metro Center’s ongoing commitment to promoting educational equity and confronting anti-Black racism and white supremacy has spanned four decades. As we have pursued this work, a difficult truth has emerged: white people have internalized messages, attitudes, and beliefs about white supremacy, regardless of their intentions or awareness, and often act to perpetuate racial hierarchies in our schools and communities. As Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian descendant people work to disrupt systemic racism and challenge white people to act, many white people are seeking opportunities to expose supremacist ideologies and practice anti-racism. To support all these efforts, NYU’s Metro Center introduces an Anti-Racist and Critical Whiteness Initiative.

Anti-racist Initiative, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools

Below are a few longer excerpts from letters written and submitted by concerned parents: