By Gus Pearcy
The Brownsburg Community School Board approved a slate of “equity definitions” by a narrow vote of 3-2. Two dissenting board members — Matt Freije and Tiffany Dearman — cited divisiveness of the community after several community members spoke evenly split for or against the approval and integrating diversity, equity and inclusion templated language in the curriculum.
It was a full house in the F.L. O’Neal Administration Center. During the public comment session, more than 20 people spoke mostly about the equity definitions and the concern over teaching a theory called Critical Race Theory. However, school board president Eric Hylton said several schools have faced a backlash over the controversial curriculum, despite declaring it is not being taught.
“Critical Race Theory is not currently being taught in our schools, and there are no plans to integrate it into the curriculum,” Hylton said of the Brownsburg Community School Corporation.
The first speaker was a representative of state Senator John Crane who read a letter, who was unable to attend the meeting.
“I have some serious concerns about the official endorsement of such a framework,” Crane’s letter said about CRT in the schools. “In fact, despite the cultural backdraft, which informs this emerging effort to advance CRT, the reality of the ideas it promotes, as well as the terms associated with it, are not in line with the American ideals set forth by its founders, nor the genuine pursuit of racial equality.”
Many spoke in favor of the definitions, yet few actually spoke in favor of CRT.
Resident Blaine Thompson questioned hiring the new diversity and inclusion coordinator recently approved by the board.
Radio personality Rob Kendall, a Brownsburg resident, emphatically told the board to pause on approving the definitions and seek consensus.
“We are not a racist country,” Kendall said. “We are not a racist state. We are not a racist town. You can say what you want about Critical Race Theory is being taught. This is the catalyst. It has happened all throughout the country.”
Chantee Eldridge spoke in favor of the teaching of diversity and understanding and that we fight for the “more perfect union.”
“Notice I didn’t say the perfect union,” Eldridge told the board. “What we are proposing in encouraging the school district is to create an environment where inclusive excellence is what we want our children to learn.”
Here are the definitions the Brownsburg School Board approved:
Racism is an internal or external prejudice or discriminatory behavior against a person or group of people based on their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group.
Institutional racism in education is racism that is embedded within the structure of education, which can impact the achievement and advancement of students of color.
Anti-racism is actively opposing racism through intentional action.
Equity is providing resources based on need, providing more for those who need it.
Inclusion is fostering an environment that welcomes all to fully participate, regardless of their level of influence or perceived power.
Diversity is the existence of difference.
Microaggressions are intentional or unintentional words and behaviors toward marginalized groups or individuals, which are experienced as hostile, derogatory or negative.
Macroaggressions are large scale or overt acts of aggression, prejudice or discrimination towards a marginalized group and are experienced as hostile, dangerous, derogatory or negative.
Intersectionality is the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.