Madison County School Board Priorities for 2022 Promote excellence both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities to inspire student achievement and lifelong learning, success, and American citizenship. Ensure every student has access to the resources and educational rigor they need at the right moment in their education, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, ability, family background or family income.
The U.S. rate for 2021 was 32.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which is more than ten times the estimated rates of some other high-income countries, including Australia, Austria, Israel, Japan, and Spain which all hovered between 2 and 3 deaths per 100,000 in 2020. OB-GYN Dr. Linda Burke explained the health policy choices that she sees at the root of this disparity, which rose sharply in 2021, and which in all years has been especially deadly for Black women.
In 2021, the U.S. had one of the worst rates of maternal mortality in the country’s history, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report found that 1,205 people died of maternal causes in the U.S. in 2021. That represents a 40% increase from the previous year.
It took years of community outcry, the urging of a governor, being sued by the NAACP, and national media scrutiny for the Hanover County School Board to finally be shamed into voting to remove the names of Confederate treasonists from two schools’ monikers in 2020. Now, this same board is proposing that the one school in the district with a name representative of Black history and Black excellence be renamed, in a move that smells like spite and looks like a regression.
Last Tuesday, a packed School Board meeting saw over a dozen members of the public speak up about John M. Gandy Elementary School, an institution that was once one of the only schools for Black students in Hanover County. A new school building under construction on the current Gandy site that will replace Gandy and consolidate it with Henry Clay Elementary was slated to retain the school name at the project’s inception in 2018.
Back then, board members assured community members that they had no intention of removing Gandy’s name from the replacement school. What has changed since then?
Back then, board members assured community members that they had no intention of removing Gandy’s name from the replacement school. What has changed since then? Well, the board became embroiled in a firestorm over its refusal to change the Confederate school names starting in 2019.
(7.6.22) The NAACP Culpeper Branch #7058, also representing Madison and Rappahannock counties in Virginia, has long prioritized education in our mission to achieve equality and eliminate race-based prejudice. We regularly partner with local schools to provide scholarships and educational resources for students and teachers.
Since February, when the Madison County School Board held its 2022 annual retreat, we have become increasingly concerned with statements and actions by members of the school board. In particular, we note:
Recent analysis shows that Black students in Madison County have consistently performed at lower levels than their white peers in reading, writing, and math; and graduated at a lower rate.¹ There have also been numerous incidences of students using racist language and engaging in racially motivated incidents on school buses, in classrooms, and on sports fields. However, at the April school board meeting, board member Charlie Sheads blamed parents for achievement disparities and erroneously stated that “the mission of Black Lives Matter is to destroy the nuclear family.” Members of the school board have repeatedly demonstrated a willful ignorance of history that has deprived many Black Americans of equal opportunities and contributed to disparities in education, including practices and cultural biases that persist to this day.
At the February 5th school board retreat, board member Christopher Wingate stated his concern about the school system’s goal of hiring a more diverse workforce, including African American teachers. Appallingly, he expressed caution that this should not hinder the system’s “pursuit of excellence.” Mr. Wingate also stated at the school board retreat that “with equity, there’s a focus on race, and of course we shouldn’t focus on race.”
The school board recently proposed extremist policy revisions designed to prevent students in need of affirmation and support, including LGBTQ students and those with abusive or dysfunctional family situations, from receiving counseling and resources. This would potentially endanger students and eliminate the “safety net” and privacy protections that many of our students desperately need. The policies demonstrate a clear mistrust of our educational and counseling workforce.
In June, despite protests from educators, parents, and community members, the school board voted to ban several texts from the high school curriculum, including a speech on the Vietnam War by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an acclaimed letter written by James Baldwin. Board member Christopher Wingate stated that the works did not reflect a “love of country” and patriotism. We would like to address this specifically by quoting Dr. King in 1967:
“Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love.”
The NAACP Culpeper Branch calls upon the Madison County School Board to become more educated about racial and LGBTQ intolerance in our community, our schools, and our nation’s history and to support the efforts of the MCPS administration by:
Focusing on creating a safe environment for all students where racism and bigotry are not tolerated, rather than creating undue and unwarranted restrictions on our professional educators and limiting resources for our students.
Upholding the language and the true spirit of the board’s 2020 Equity Statement and continuing the work of the Equity Task Force.
Committing to closing the school system’s achievement gap and addressing disparities in school discipline, and to teaching accurate and complete history including diverse and competing perspectives that will encourage critical thinking and empower students to succeed.
“No one should have to prove to you that racism exists. If you don’t see it, it’s because you choose not to. And that’s cruel and tragic.”
– Bernice King, CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
¹ Virginia Department of Education
The Rev. Dr. Uzziah Harris
NAACP Culpeper Branch #7058
In light of recent national and local conversations and controversy regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT), NAACP-Culpeper would like to offer support, guidance, and clarity to our community. Below you will find information regarding CRT as well as teaching practices that are centered on equity.
What is CRT?
CRT is an academic framework that examines the impact of systemic racism on American society. It is not taught in K-12 schools because it is not developmentally appropriate to do so; it is used in fields of professional and academic research. Some of the underpinning assumptions of CRT, however, can already be found in curricula in many schools. In recent months, CRT has become a catch-all term for school programs (teacher education, curriculum, and more) that focus on anti-racist practices, social justice, and/or diversity and equity.
Is CRT new?
No. CRT became widely read and used beginning in the 1970s in legal research. The practices that are being inaccurately described as CRT (anti-racist education, for example) are also not new. Classroom conversations that include discussions about race and racism are also not new (although it is important to note that this is not CRT). In fact, even early childhood curricula have included discussions about skin color and racial identity for many decades. Since race is a part of people’s identities (just like where they were born or what holidays they celebrate or how their families are structured), conversations about race happen all the time in schools. Additionally, it is easy to find examples of discussions about race that occur in history or English classes for older students, since studies about history and English are studies about individuals and groups of people. When you study people, you also will encounter issues of race and equity. It is incredibly difficult (not to mention bad practice), for example, to teach the American Civil War without discussing race.
So what does teaching for equity look like?
Some of the objections to CRT can be more accurately described as objections to teaching for equity (which can include social justice education, culturally relevant teaching, anti-racist teaching, and more-these are different from each other but overlap in important ways). Teaching for equity includes: ensuring that all students’ identities are welcomed and celebrated; providing instructional materials that reflect a wide variety of perspectives (including various racial identities); a curriculum that is high-level, accessible to all students and emphasizes critical thinking; and ongoing teacher learning so that educators are reflecting on their practices in a continual way.
In a classroom, this looks like a library of books and resources that include lots of different kinds of characters. It can also be a classroom rich in discussion about current events so kids have ample opportunity to practice critical thinking and discourse. It may also be a history unit that includes several primary resources from different demographic groups, so that students may consider multiple perspectives. In a primary classroom, it may look like a read aloud about a community much like theirs, a rural one, but in an entirely different part of the world. It can also look like a guest speaker coming to share how their family celebrates a holiday unfamiliar to most of the students in the class.
Does teaching for equity teach Black, Asian, Hispanic, and multiracial children to feel victimized?
No. Many families are concerned about this-no one wants children to feel dis-empowered or victimized. When multiple perspectives are presented, however, children of color are more likely to find themselves in the learning, which leads to a deeper and more rigorous educational experience. Classrooms in which students are welcomed to bring their full identities to the community, including their racial identities, are more likely to be classrooms in which students feel safe and known. This also leads to greater and deeper learning.
Does it teach White children to feel guilty?
No. This is a concern of many parents of White children, and understandably so. No one wants their children to feel guilty or upset, including teachers who teach for equity; that’s not the goal. Teaching about the history of race and racism should empower students to make the world better and more equitable. Slavery and Jim Crow, for example, are painful parts of our history, but students need to understand how these came about and how the lingering effects of them are still apparent today so that they may be empowered to ensure that we continue to work toward equity for all. Including multiple voices when studying periods of history or when reading literature also asks students to consider new ideas and perspectives. Moreover, asking students to engage in critical discourse prepares them to be active citizens of their community, both now and when they are grown.
Is teaching about race and racism indoctrination?
No. Presenting students with resources that reflect multiple perspectives means that students are learning to look critically at historical events, literature, media and more. All of us want our students to think critically and independently…that’s what this kind of teaching supports. It teaches children HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
Does NAACP-Culpeper support CRT in our K-12 schools?
No-CRT is for higher ed, not K-12! We DO, however, support teaching for equity, which is often inaccurately conflated with CRT. We know that structural racism exists-the data is unequivocal on this. We also know that education is one area of our society where we simply cannot ignore opportunity gaps. Every child deserves a high-quality, rigorous education that pushes them to reach their full potential. Currently, not all students have these opportunities; students of color, especially Black students, continue to achieve at much lower levels than their White peers in Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock counties. There are significant gaps between White and Black/Hispanic students’ reading levels, math achievement, graduation rates, and participation in gifted education programs and AP programs.
Teaching for equity supports the closing of these gaps. Research shows that a positive school climate where all students feel welcomed and valued leads to higher achievement for all children (students of color as well as White students), as does rigorous, high-level instructional programming. Teaching for equity IS high-quality, rigorous education because it engages students in higher-level thinking that encourages them to consider multiple perspectives. It also affirms and welcomes the identities of all students in a classroom, not just those in the racial majority.
As a civil rights organization, we will continue to fight for this every single day. Education IS a civil right.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com . You are also invited to attend our NAACP general membership meetings, held over zoom the third Thursday each month.
NAACP-Culpeper Education Committee
Dr. Laurel Blackmon, Chair
It seems that a healthy handful of White folks wait to express their outrage and disgust over racial injustice after a highly publicized or sensationalized tragedy takes place. Often, after a new hashtag begins trending on social media, a variety of tweets and posts speaking out against anti-Blackness and anti-Black violence soon follow. Which, I suppose, is fine, but very few extend far beyond their comfort zone in their advocacy efforts. This is not to say that allyship in any form is not helpful, but it’s time to start being clear about what is needed and what ultimately perpetuates White supremacy and further insulates White guilt. Let’s be honest: to combat anti-Blackness in America, we don’t need allies. We need abolitionists.
While following the Derek Chauvin trial, I’ve noticed one common theme that also struck me immediately following the gruesome killing of George Floyd – White people speaking out against racism after the fact. It seems that a healthy handful of White folks wait to express their outrage and disgust over racial injustice after a highly publicized or sensationalized tragedy takes place.
Protests rage once again in Minneapolis after another Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by police, and a newly released video from Virginia shows a Black Army lieutenant in uniform getting pepper-sprayed by police.
The Virginia NAACP strongly believes that systemic racism has manifested as a determinant to public health through persistent racial disparities in criminal justice, housing, education, health care, employment, worker protections, climate, outdoor access, food access, and technology.
More than 100 studies have linked racism to negative health outcomes, including the research supporting that the cumulative experience of racism throughout one’s life can induce chronic stress and chronic health conditions that may lead to otherwise preventable deaths. Many communities of color suffer from increased exposure to environmental hazards, poor air quality, lack of access to safe and affordable opportunities for outdoor recreation, lack of mental health services, and lack of educational and career prospects.
Meet the Police Chief who might just be one of the best leaders in the country. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is leading the calls for police reform from the inside — and today sits down with Carlos to discuss how police forces are more progressive than corporate America, but how still more needs to be done to root out “bushels of bad apples” and to end police tactics that may be technically lawful, but are nevertheless awful and inhumane.
Have you ever wondered where felony disenfranchisement and other voter suppression tactics derived from or who are most affected?
On Monday, Oct. 19, the Right to Vote Coalition in partnership with the Richmond Public Library will launch an online interactive exhibitBlock The Vote: The Deliberate Suppression of the Black Vote that dives into Virginia’s history of voter suppression. Learn about the systemic disenfranchisement of the Black vote from Reconstruction to today. Explore modules on voter suppression tools, a timeline of voter disenfranchisement, and hear the voices of the disenfranchised, plus more. To explore the virtual exhibit visit: rvalibrary.org/block-the-vote.
Block the Vote The Right to Vote coalition and the Richmond Public Library welcome you to Block The Vote: The Deliberate Suppression of the Black Vote. This exhibit traces the history of voter suppression and felony disenfranchisement in Virginia and throughout our nation.
Then continue your journey by joining us at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, for virtual screening of “Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote.” Suppressed documents how voter suppression tactics were used in the 2018 midterm election in Georgia to successfully prevent hundreds of thousands of voters from casting their ballot. The film uncovers the insidious voter suppression tactics that politicians across the country use to stay in power – poll closures, voter purges, understaffed poll locations, and more to block the votes of African American and poor communities. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion about Voting in Virginia – from the positive impact of recent legislation to our confusing election season (itself a suppression tactic) to the continued fight to end felony disenfranchisement.
Join us for a virtual film screening of Suppressed: The Fight to Vote followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A. Registration is required. This program is in partnership with the Right to Vote Coaliti…
A free and accessible voting system is as important today than ever before. Today one in five Virginians cannot vote because of felony disenfranchisement. That’s nearly 300,000 Virginians who will not have a voice in who governs them but are expected to pay taxes. Visit Block the Vote: The Deliberate Suppression of the Black Vote and join us for the screening of Suppressed to see how you can take action to ensure every Virginia citizen over the age of 18 the right to vote.
The Culpeper branch of the NAACP holds its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on the 3rd Thursday of each month. We are currently meeting at the Culpeper Business Center at 14115 Lovers Lane, Culpeper, 22701. All are welcome; you do not have to be a member to attend.