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Critical race theory: Knee-jerk reactions, more

President Joe Biden signs the Juneteenth National Independence

President Joe Biden signs the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, in Washington D.C. Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

Critical race theory: Knee-jerk reactions

It’s clear that the folks complaining at the Smithtown Central School District board meetings about critical race theory "indoctrinating" children don’t understand what critical race theory is, nor can they point to examples in the curriculum ["School board meeting gets contentious," Our Towns, May 27]. It’s a decades-old discipline studied primarily in law school, which is why you won’t find any such lesson plans for K-12 students.

There is, however, a New York State initiative to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in schools, to "create opportunities for all students to learn from multiple perspectives."

This initiative isn’t just about race. But it does mean children might discuss racism in school.

The self-proclaimed "angry mob" showing up at our school board meetings are threatened by the mere discussion of racism. What you might not see from the livestream is that the anti-DEI crowd can’t even sit politely and listen to opposing viewpoints. They mutter from their seats or storm out and yell in the hallway. Is that what we want for our children? To feel so threatened by others’ experiences that they cannot even tolerate hearing them, never mind discussing them?

Ask yourself how that prepares kids for the "real world" beyond their majority-white hometown.

— Amber LoRe, Smithtown

Watching my own Smithtown school district’s board meetings the past few weeks has been shocking and disheartening. The public participation segment has been downright disgraceful in some instances. All stakeholders, parents, trustees, administrators, teachers and staff essentially want the same things for our children — we want them to achieve their full potential, to be offered every possible opportunity, and to have access to a challenging, engaging, safe learning environment. That is where the focus needs to return. Heckling, screaming, constant interrupting, profanity, and a total lack of decorum from the audience must not be tolerated.

Public schools must value their students above all else. Our Board of Education must exemplify this by continuing to attend to the growth and development of our children, rather than to the political motivations of some parents. It is absolutely imperative that we all do our part to turn down the temperature, to exercise civil discourse, and to provide an example for our children as to what respectful disagreement looks like. Our children are watching, and they deserve our best.

— Kathleen Flynn, Smithtown

I am saddened and embarrassed at the tone of local Board of Education meetings in my Smithtown school district. I moved here from upstate New York last year and am a proud gay woman with a wonderful fiancee and two young kids.

The shouting, screaming, threats and intimidation of many against teaching about inclusivity is worrying many parents. I know, in my heart, that the children will not be swayed. No matter how loud ignorant parents cry, children will still learn acceptance from their peers, social media and the world around them. To those who disagree: Catch up with the times or be left behind.

— Christina Ventura, St. James

Parents are better to teach ethics to kids

A note to the radical leftists on a letter-writing mission thinking they’ll make a dent in Smithtown ["Smithtown faces inconvenient truth," Letters, May 30]: Many of us in Smithtown reject the premise that the government is better qualified to teach our children about ethics and morals than we parents or our churches are.

So we reject: the premise that the school district should have a significant role with its "equity and inclusivity" team; that equity, inclusion and diversity are not dog whistles for critical race theory; that CRT is well-intentioned, and that CRT is designed to unite rather than divide and is not a gateway to Marxism. Finally, we reject the premise that we are racists, and we condemn those who label any community as such, regardless of "demographics."

We know your game. Call us what you will. We’re a moral, kind and color-blind community.

So write all your letters. We will not be bullied.

— Mike Quadrino, Smithtown

New Juneteenth law should be the start

I commend Congress for passing the bill for Juneteenth ["Juneteenth a fed holiday," News, June 18]. Now, Congress must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. President Joe Biden must also sign both bills into law.

Federal police reform and protection of voting rights are absolutely mandatory in our nation’s forward fight against racism, classism and sexism.

— The Rev. Arthur L. Mackey Jr., Roosevelt

The writer is senior pastor of Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt.