Education

Morley: Denying CRT in schools is dishonest

Both fathers of two Orleans school equity contractors linked to killing police

Ben Morley, founder of FAIR Education for OCSU, wrote this open letter Tuesday, August 17 to the Orleans Central Supervisory Union community.

Let me say now, that I have every right to ask questions about my child’s education and so do you. I also have every right to question the misconduct of some administrators and teachers who push forward radical social justice beliefs on my child in what appears to be a quasi-psychology lesson in education. I appreciate teachers who are professional and who understand and respect their code of ethics and responsibility. There is no doubt that OCSU needs to improve transparency and bring more ideas to the table and offer better communications regarding the changes they have made during Covid.

Members of Fair Education for OCSU, are firm believers in non-political diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum for children in our school, because the new learning opportunities that align with this CRT orthodoxy attempt make children activists, challenge family values, and impose on our identities as Americans, which are protected by our civil rights and 1st Amendment rights.

It seems in recent weeks anyone who has challenged these changes have been called “divisive” by leadership and the information they share is called “misinformation” to discredit any concerns from the public. In the equity committee meeting they have even stated that any pushback from the community or parents was just a sign that they were not doing the right “work”. This is not surprising, as the equity committee continues to show strong beliefs in progressive ideology like equity over equality, systemic racism, white privilege, white fragility, frequent lessons on racial inequity and victimization of minorities, and the power under/power over dynamic that labels groups oppressors and oppressed based on their physical characteristics. Guess what theory preaches the same tenets? That’s right, Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Ben Morley (right) defends parents’ rights to question CRT in schools and raises questions of his own about the Orleans Central Supervisory Union equity contractors.

To say that CRT or political lessons are not being introduced in our school system at OCSU or at least a praxis version of CRT is dishonest! This new orthodoxy is being introduced in a variety of subjects like Humanities, Art, Music, Guidance classes.

It is the school district’s responsibility to offer information for parents regarding curriculum changes and lesson plans, to notify parents of any 3rd party teaching experience that their children may receive and a valid reasoning for the instruction, and to be honest with parents about their goals and objectives for teaching our children.

OCSU is contracting with the Building Fearless Futures organization to act as the primary consultants for social justice and equity reforms in our school district, and leaders from the group are paid to sit on our district’s equity committee according to a recent document release by OCSU indicating all the recent changes the equity committee has made during the pandemic.

The equity policy being discussed at OCSU would allow teachers to educate students in a way they believe is equitable and corresponds to their beliefs related to social justice.

Netdahe is a leader for the BFF organization and is paid to sit on our equity committee as a consultant for social justice and equity. Netdahe is the son of Richard Williams, a convicted domestic terrorist and member of the United Freedom Front. Richard Williams, was charged with the murder of a police officer and the bombing of several federal buildings and possessed anti-racism and anarchist views. His son Netdahe published an article in recent years to show tribute to his father and portray him as a misunderstood leader of anti-racist activism.

Russell is another leader of BFF. His father is Russell “Maroon” Shoaltz, actively serving a life sentence in prison for his involvement with the Black Panther Party. Russel, speaks out regularly for the freedom of his father and works to raise funds for incarcerated individuals who identify with the anti-racism movement.

When this information was shared with our OCSU curriculum director Mr. Moriarty, he stated that he was not concerned, and the group is not political even after we shared the following from their website: BFF writes that they are experts in anti-racism and helping children combat “racial stress”. In Affinity Spaces, they offer support to help “white privileged students” in our community to understand their privilege. They state that they can help privileged white students and teachers “better understand the harm they cause on a daily basis” to people of color.

When a parent from our group asked what the BFF “mentors” qualifications were to work with vulnerable populations (children), Mr. Moriarty stated that the group understood social justice and can be trusted based on his professional opinion. We were shocked! These are simply political ideologues and activists being put with our children to shape their views.

The school board is expected to vote on the proposed Equity Policy in their next meeting September 27th, please join that meeting and vote down this policy.

If students or parents question any materials or lessons at OCSU please notify our parent group and share on our page FAIR EDUCATION FOR OCSU. We help offer support to children, parents, and teachers who have the same concerns about a political curriculum and we are working to offer better solutions for solving these problems in our community.

Ben Morley, Orleans

Editor’s Note:

Before publishing Mr. Morley’s assertions about BFF’s family history, I 1) did my own research and 2) asked Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Shoatz if they wish to comment. The research bears out the factual outline as stated by Morley. A written response by Stoddard is published verbatim below.

For a poem written by Netdahe Williams Stoddard about his incarcerated father, see May 10, 2008 ForStruggleMag. For more published information on Richard Williams, see “Revolutionary Bombs and Cocaine Corruption in 1970’s Militants.”

Russell Shoatz is included as a contact at the Building Fearless Futures webpage. A Black Panther Party member named Russell Shoatz was convicted of murdering a Pennsylvania police officer. According to the Wikipedia entry, Shoatz turns 78 next week. After been sentenced to life without possibility of parole, he served 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement. His nickname is The Implacable. A press release announcing his release from solitary confinement includes a photo of BFF’s Russell Shoatz and lists him as a media contact person.

Response received today from Netdahe Stoddard, printed in its entirety:

Many of Mr. Morley’s statements are factually incorrect. I’m a law abiding life long NEK resident who is being increasingly threatened and insulted for my family connections and misunderstood ideas.

I will humbly take space here to address one misunderstanding. My father did spend almost 30 years in prison, and he died in prison nearly 20 years ago. I have lived a purposeful life, striving always to care for and respect my neighbors and community. I have worked hard to not be judged by and limited by my father’s actions. I’ve hoped to be judged by my own actions and the content of my character, just like Mr Morley and your readers, in line with the promise of our nation’s founding documents.

I never condoned the criminal actions of my father. Nearly 20 years ago I wrote the eulogy to my father’s funeral service, where I both praised and critiqued him, because he lived a life that was bigger than only his criminal actions. Please help create more space for sharing ideas and spend less time name calling and harassing people.

I have reached out to Mr Morley numerous times to answer any questions he has about me and the work I do. He has never provided me the opportunity to answer his questions but continues to slander and liable me in public. I never reciprocate this harassment. I hope eternally for more opportunities for us all to share ideas and positive experiences together in the community. Thank you

Categories: Education

6 replies »

  1. The OCSU is a ‘public school monopoly’. And if anything is systemic, it’s the inherent dysfunction of a ‘public-school monopoly’ in meeting the following criteria.

    “It is the school district’s responsibility to offer information for parents regarding curriculum changes and lesson plans, to notify parents of any 3rd party teaching experience that their children may receive and a valid reasoning for the instruction, and to be honest with parents about their goals and objectives for teaching our children.”

    If Mr. Morley were to ask his OCSU school board, administrators, and teachers, to fulfill their ‘responsibility’ to ‘notify’ parents with ‘valid reasoning’, they would all surely respond, in unison, that they are doing so.

    Thus, Mr. Morely is missing the point – or, at least, not articulating it accurately.

    The issue isn’t that the OCSU is or isn’t acting accordingly, or that Mr. Stoddard, the consultant, isn’t an up standing citizen who has every right to pay tribute to his father, or that Mr. Morley disagrees with the Building Fearless Futures pedagogy (Marxist Doctrine or not). These are all, arguably, honest appraisals.

    The issue is that while no two people on this planet will ever fully agree upon what it is that specifically constitutes ‘valid reasoning’, of any kind, the very structure of a ‘public-school monopoly’ forces all individuals to confront one another in this regard – not just academically or psychologically, but financially. Everyone is involved. Conflict is inevitable.

    As I continue to say, over and again, the problem rests with the inherent dysfunction of any ‘public-school monopoly’. And the only way to limit that dysfunction, if not end it altogether, is to eliminate the monopoly aspect of the publicly funded school system. A publicly funded school system must include both public and independent schools, with both secular and sectarian aspects, from which parents and their children can choose à la carte (from a list of individual items) or table d’hote (a special of the day with few if any choices).

    This is the only ‘reasonable’ way to eliminate the current dysfunction. End the monopoly.

  2. Is it any surprise that after COVID, the number of parents opting to home-school is way up?

  3. Netdahe has never reached out to me to discuss anything regarding the BFF organization. His goals for our district can be viewed on The Building Fearless Futures web page and the Equity Committee meeting minutes on the OCSU website. I encourage everyone view those resources.

    • It is flatly untrue for Ben to say I have not reached out to him. I reached out to Mr Morley during the one ELT meeting he attended this past Spring and he refused to speak with me about my work or ask any direct questions about it. I also tried to attend his organization’s meeting/conversation multiple times, but I was refused entry even though I am a neighbor and parent and believe in much of what Mr Morley says he believes in. I would love an invite to the next community meeting he holds.

  4. Ok then..So BFF “understood social justice” and “can be trusted” according to the word of Moriarty? Could this same “word” allow anyone to teach anything or drive a school bus? Given the extremely poor performance of Vermont’s students in their grade levels for math & reading proficiency shouldn’t the focus be on improving these scores? We have reached a turning point in “public” education thanks to “remote learning” and the “pandemic” that has opened a lot of parent’s eyes as to curriculum and the force-feeding of irrelevant current fads as gospel. Politics & religion should be left to the parents & the individual students, not disguised as social studies or even history. Example: we learned the basics about our Civil War & Slavery in elementary school then the draft riots & reconstruction LATER in high school, forcing abstract & obscure concepts into early education maybe more hurtful than helpful, maybe we should let kids be kids and “innocent” for a little while, maybe? I won’t EVEN mention the unions here, every union company I ever worked for only guaranteed the mediocre and slothful could not be fired or dismissed and everyone got the same COLA regardless of initiative and production. The time for school choice is now, allow the parents freedom to choose the schools they see as fit for their children.

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