Opinion: Parents seeking respect, questioning CCS curriculum

Dear Editor,

On September 10, 2021, Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent, Dr. Shawn Ryan, sent an email to every parent in our district.
In that letter, he claimed several things.  Among them were these items:
— There have been “persistent attempts by some in our community to undermine our educational system.”
— “…these individuals seem to want to deny us opportunities for respectful and constructive dialogue by supporting a national narrative that seeks to fracture teacher-parent trust.”
— “…several individuals have continued spreading misinformation about the district’s equity and inclusion practices.”
Clarkston Parents United is the group he is referring to, though he doesn’t mention us by our name.  Our group is comprised of hundreds of working parents with school-age children.
We are all very busy, but we feel so strongly that our district is heading down a hateful and divisive path that we are spending every spare hour we have fighting it.
We disagree with all of Dr. Ryan’s statements above and many others in his letter.  One point we do agree on: our dialogue with him has not been constructive.  At no point has he acknowledged our concerns, let alone acted on them or made any of the changes we’ve requested.
We are not individuals, but a group resisting what we feel is the encroachment on the rights of parents to decide what is taught to our children.
Despite Dr. Ryan’s insinuations, we fully support and love our teachers.
We reject his attempt to make them pawns in the battle between parental control over what our children learn and a Board of Education, Superintendent, and curriculum that is out of step with what our community wants.
In the last 18 months, there have been profound changes to our school’s policies and curriculum.  An ideology called Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been inserted into classrooms in a variety of ways at all age levels.
Despite its noble-sounding name, DEI seeks to divide our community and our nation by focusing on physical characteristics like skin color and gender.
At its core, DEI pushes the fashionable but baseless concept of ‘systemic racism.’  We completely reject this concept.
Everything in this country is very carefully NOT racist.
We’ve been steadily dismantling any benefit to one group or another based on skin color – or any other characteristic – for 60 years.  Government, academia, and businesses have universally embraced affirmative action and removed discrimination wherever it has been found.
The DEI ideology is being promoted by the Michigan Association of School Boards and Oakland County Schools. It has a variety of different names, but the core intent of seeking to divide us is the same. It has spread like a cancer and now it has come here to Clarkston.
Rather than continuing the lessons we teach our children about mutual respect and to treat everyone they meet as an individual, our schools want to focus their attention on skin color, gender, and which “subgroup” every person should be placed into.
These concepts are being presented to children in one form or another at all grade levels, even Kindergarten.
Clarkston Parents United wants our children consistently taught we are one nation and one people.
We believe the United States was founded to ensure freedom for its citizens and provide an environment for anyone who wants to work hard a chance to fulfill their dreams.  Our nation may not have always lived up to that goal, but for more than 200 years, we have continually improved our institutions, laws, and societal norms to get us closer and closer to reaching it.
We want our children taught to love their country and fully appreciate and understand its history of liberty and continuous progress.
We want our children taught how to appreciate and understand different perspectives.
They should be given guidance and provided the intellectual tools to make informed decisions for themselves – not railroaded into a belief system opposed by their parents.
We’re asking Dr. Ryan’s Culture of Respect be expanded to include us and our points of view.

Clarkston Parents United

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