• September 19, 2020

TEXAS VIEW: Southlake Carroll diversity plan isn’t a secret liberal plot - Odessa American: Texas Opinion

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TEXAS VIEW: Southlake Carroll diversity plan isn’t a secret liberal plot

THE POINT: Backlash to the plan is disproportionate.

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Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2020 2:30 am

If you’re looking for a place where a secret, radical socialist agenda might take root and flourish, Southlake’s school district wouldn’t be a likely candidate.

Yet the Carroll ISD finds itself in turmoil over a proposal to improve diversity education in the suburban district. There’s a petition calling for the school board president to resign. A lawsuit alleges violations of Texas’ open-meetings law. And the rancor spilled over Thursday, Sept. 3, into discussion of the search for a new superintendent.

Confusion, whether accidental or intentionally stoked, over the 34-page document known as the Cultural Competence Action Plan and the process of creating and approving it appears to be at the heart of the matter.

It began when a video surfaced in 2018 of Carroll students chanting the n-word. That and a similar second video prompted minority parents and alumni to come forward with stories of mistreatment over race and other differences.

“I had been on the board three years and had never heard any of those stories,” said Carroll school board president Michelle Moore. “I was, as a board member, completely shocked and disheartened that it wasn’t coming to us as a board.”

The board appointed a diversity committee to examine the issue, and over the course of more than a year, the panel held meetings, drafted a report with recommendations and prepared to submit it to the board this spring. That was delayed to August after the pandemic, and amid all that, Superintendent David Faltys announced his decision to retire.

The delay meant that the report landed after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer and the nationwide protests over racism. Suddenly, an already sensitive topic was super-charged.

Opponents allege that Moore and other board members conspired to quickly adopt the plan, including provisions to track “microaggressions” and add an LGBTQ agenda to school curricula. Moore said the board was merely poised to accept the report from the diversity council and begin the process of taking feedback and refining its recommendations.

Moore pledges now that no action will be taken to implement the report until a new superintendent is in place, which could be early next year. That’s a good step; it allows ample time for debate and won’t hand the new district leader an agenda to execute without him or her having input on it.

And the potential violation of the meetings law is a serious charge. The lawsuit includes screenshots of text messages that appear to show a majority of the board discussing the issue. Even if it fell within the letter of the law, it’s inappropriate for so much public business to be debated without the public being able to view and participate.

That said, the backlash to the plan is disproportionate. For one thing, if the Carroll board is suddenly overrun with liberals in disguise, candidates could have run this year against Moore and another board member, or to occupy an open seat. Each race drew just one candidate.

The need for greater attention to racial issues and other cultural sensitivity is real. Southlake has landed in the national news too many times for incidents. Kids will always do and say dumb things, but it’s clear some aren’t learning how hurtful such language can be.

And this isn’t just a case of manners or, as some would say, political correctness. Carroll students are graduating into a world that increasingly pays attention to cultural differences. Institutions such as universities and corporations demand a workforce to be aware of these factors.

“We had a mother share that there are a lot of essay prompts about diversity and inclusion” on college admission applications, Moore said. “We have to be smart about this, for our kids. Teachers need to know how to have these conversations in the classroom.”

Debate on the particulars of the plan should be welcome. The “anti-racism” agenda currently in vogue often includes assaults on everything from the American founding to the nuclear family to capitalism. Southlake residents have a right to draw a line against such things being taught in public schools.

There will be plenty of board meetings and other discussion of the diversity plan. Rather than railing with a futile online petition or lawsuits, those who care should show up, participate and argue for their positions.

With any luck, some of the raw emotions stirred up two months before a contentious national election will fade, leaving room for a real dialogue.

But Carroll students, like those across Texas and the country, need preparation to live in a diverse world, to know how to treat others with respect and empathy.

Those aren’t liberal values. As Moore put it: “I can believe in this work and still be conservative.”

Odessa, TX

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