Bedford Parents Slam School Officials for Focus on DEI Over Literacy

A group of Bedford School District parents lambasted the Board of Education at its last meeting, scolding members for expending efforts to form a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee while the district sees lagging test scores.

Nearly three hours into the Sept. 29 board meeting, community members also blistered school officials for dragging their feet on establishing a literacy committee that could help improve educational outcomes.

Pound Ridge resident Kristine Stoker said some of the district’s five elementary schools have reading and math proficiency levels at 40 percent while board members and educators push for an anti-racism agenda.

“The DEI and anti-racism agenda has permeated this district and has become the only priority, and it must end,” Stoker said. “Education and the resulting outcomes for students must be the priority and the discrimination of (special ed) students must stop. Don’t our students deserve to be educated?”

Comments came after extended board discussion about the parameters of a DEI Committee. Meanwhile, most parents who spoke during public comments, said students who have experienced learning loss because of the pandemic or have had difficulties academically are being shortchanged.

Dr. Gilian Goldman-Klein said her son, while having a superior I.Q., is struggling with reading, and pointed to the district for failing to provide students with learning difficulties the attention they need.

“Literacy is the foundation of all learning,” said Goldman-Klein. “What is the objection to having a literacy committee? Are we saying in this district we have no reason to improve our literacy outcome?”

Others placed blame on board member Alex White, who they seemed to feel has been the driving force behind an anti-racism agenda. Meanwhile, former Board of Education member Pam Harney also called out Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joel Adelberg, claiming that he directed student representatives “to find any students who have personal experiences with racism to speak at the (Student Achievement Advisory Committee) to demonstrate why we need to participate in Alex White’s DEI agenda.”

Harney said the community needs the board to analyze data, establish standards, set goals and improve outcomes.

“She (White) has proven beyond a reasonable doubt she is not here to serve the entire community but rather is here to push her own politically and racially driven agenda,” Harney said.

Another parent, Chris Kramer of Pound Ridge, said most families have discussions with their children about how to properly treat others. It is the district’s job to make sure that educational loss from the pandemic is addressed and to provide those who need greater assistance the help that they need, he said.

“You talk about equity and diversity and this anti-racism theme, which still haven’t been clearly defined, in my opinion,” Kramer said. “Some of you actually have been pushing this agenda but the biggest social injustice happening right now at BCSD isn’t centered around race, it is not having an admin centered around race, it’s not having an admin and a unified board that are laser-focused on improving reading and math proficiency as well as educational outcomes for all students. I think it’s time to readjust your lens.”

Throughout the comments, which continued for about a half-hour, the board and administration said little. At one point, Board Vice President Edward Reder questioned whether it was appropriate for speakers to be singling out a board member by name.

A short time later, Trustee Steven Matlin looked for a commitment from the rest of the board to either form a literacy committee or to have the Student Achievement Advisory Committee to address the issue.

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