Parents Revolt Against “Equity” Agenda In Barrington (RI) As School District Drops Precipitously In National Rankings
“Since de-levelling was introduced… the school has dropped from 189th to 308th in the nationwide school rankings.” The parents movement in Barrington crosses all political, racial, and ethnic lines. It’s just parents refusing to be silent anymore.
Barrington, Rhode Island, where Legal Insurrection Foundation is based, is the center of a firestorm of parent protest over an “equity” agenda scaling back or eliminating accelerated high school courses. This so-called “de-leveling” has united parents of all political affiliations in a parents movement that is gaining steam with calls to replace town political and school leadership.
It wasn’t always this way. The town once known as “Borrington” because nothing much happened now has become a hotbed of woke activism with progressive Democrats controlling the Town Council. Controversies have included the town flying the BLM flag over the Veterans Memorial, and then stripping the local veterans group of its role organizing the Memorial Day Parade after it protested. The Town Council even sponsored as an official town event an appearance by Ibram Kendi, which refusing to sponsor an alternative viewpoint.
This activism also has found its way into the school system, with an equally woke School Commitee, where “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” has reached near-religious dogma. The Equity part of the agenda has involved de-leveling — the reduction or elimination of accelerated and honors courses that were the lifeblood of the top-rated school district in the state.
Parents, many of whom were high academic achievers themselves, have erupted in protest, as the Barrington Times reported on March 4, 2022:
The decision to “de-level” courses at Barrington High School is being met with resistance.
At last Thursday night’s school committee meeting, nearly a half-dozen parents in the district voiced their concerns and opposition to the curriculum shift, which started in 2017 with the elimination of level-three Social Studies courses at the high school. Level-three were the most advanced courses, filled with the school’s top students. De-leveling refers to more mixed classrooms, with students at all abilities in the same groupings.
De-leveling, said school officials, will benefit all students. But parents who spoke out during the school committee meeting said the move will serve as a disservice to some of the district’s highest learners….
Anna Amoiradaki said she grew up in Europe and attended a de-leveled high school in Greece. She said that approach to education failed her brother, and will fail everyone here in Barrington.
“You’re using our kids as guinea pigs right now,” Ms. Amoiradaki said. “We deserve better.
“It doesn’t work. It fails everyone.”
It all came to a head at a contentious School Committee meeting on March 30, 2022.
(You can view all the parent testimony here.)
Barrington Mom Ellen Schaffer issued a call for community unity in the face of School Committee equity activism:
Over 500 Barrington residents, mostly parents, have signed an open letter against de-leveing (emphasis added):
There are many reasons that brought our families to Barrington and keep us here. But at the top of everyone’s list is an excellent school system that promises to “empower all students to excel.” Barrington Public Schools’ strategic plan states that it will achieve this goal by “making student-centered decisions” and “creating purposeful, inclusive, and responsive dialogue.”
Over the past several years, the district administration and majority of the School Committee have failed on both fronts. It is time for a change. Our community is reeling from this year’s failed shift from Honors-level English classes to an independent Honors Designation project, resulting in honors participation dropping from over 50% of students to under 30%.
* * *
This is just the latest example of a clear pattern of self-inflicted wounds due to the administration and School Committee taking actions without regard for stakeholder input, and lack of accountability for failures….
Barrington schools are our town’s greatest asset. We, engaged parents, students, BHS graduates, and taxpayers, have spent hours trying to convey our perspectives and lived experiences. We have written countless emails and spoken at endless school committee meetings. The lack of any response, of accountability, of listening to understand, of any semblance of community partnership, is stunning.
To be clear, we applaud our teachers and are thankful for all they are doing – day in and day out – for our kids. Our entire learning community deserves better than these failures of our leadership.
The signers of this letter are diverse; we are Democrats, Republicans and Independents; some voted for the current school committee members, and some did not. But we will ALL vote for change in November, because these issues are more important than party.
This is a unifying call for action. Our kids and our school system are counting on us.
Fox News has covered the story, in which I was quoted, Rhode Island parents enraged at school board for removing honors classes in ‘equity obsession’:
Barrington, Rhode Island, public schools are among the best in the state. Many parents move to the district, and tolerate the higher taxes, because of the academic rigor that sets their children up for attending Ivy League schools or receiving academic merit scholarships. However, all of that academic appeal is being chipped away after the district brought in a so-called “equity and inclusion” agenda….
Rage broke loose among parents of all political stripes after the honors students were targeted, parents said. The school announced that the days of honors English and social studies were gone. Parents protested, arguing that the move deprived their children of a competitive edge – and in effect – future opportunities such as merit scholarships.
During a March 30 meeting, over a dozen parents and students scolded the school board….
As of 2022, Barrington High School’s U.S. News ranking plummeted to #308 on a list among the top high schools in the country, down many notches from 189th in 2019.
Bill Jacobson, a long-time Barrington resident and founder of Legal Insurrection, said, “De-leveling is part of an agenda of equalizing outcomes. This equal-results approach stems from critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion, which posit that unequal outcomes are the result of systemic bias and discrimination. ‘Equity’ in particular is the codeword for bringing high achievers down to equalize outcomes,” Jacobson said. “‘Equity’ has become an unhealthy obsession, and parents are seeing the impact.”
The Daily Mail also has picked up the story:
Parents in Barrington, Rhode Island have slammed a woke school district for cancelling honors classes as part of a move to increase inclusivity and equity amongst students.
Barrington Public Schools were among the best in the state and known for equipping students for Ivy League colleges but have plunged 119 spots in official rankings since it changed its approach to teaching in 2020.
Parents voiced their outrage at a March 30 meeting, claiming the new structure of de-leveling – a system of universal learning – had impacted grades and access to merit scholarships for college….
Katie Novak, a representative for the school, told Fox News: ‘Too many individuals and schools support oppressive and ableist structures where access to advanced coursework is a privilege that students have to earn’.
‘All students deserve opportunities to access grade-level instruction and become expert learners and this is not possible when we continue to track students in different levels based on antiquated models of school success.’
However, a mother who has children with a special learning plan, said the ‘inclusive’ approach is harming her daughter, whose grades have dropped.
‘It [took away] any kind of individuality… or…personalized education plan for kids. It’s: “You’re just going to be some homogenized like education factory where they raise everybody’s the same.”‘
‘I don’t think I would ever be a fan of de-leveling, but the timing [to implement it during COVID] is what makes it very suspicious to me. So it just felt like it was an easy way for them to get their agenda through without pushback because people were so busy dealing with other stuff.’
Since de-levelling was introduced, first with the removal of Individualized Education Programs for students with disabilities in February 2020, the school has dropped from 189th to 308th in the nationwide school rankings.
This story is not over.
The parents movement in Barrington is the real deal. It cuts across all political, racial, and ethnic lines. It’s just parents refusing to be silent anymore.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.