Orange lawmaker wins voting law concessions, Essex school board member calls Critical Race Theory critics to meeting tonight
by Guy Page
Friday, a new legislator, 25-year-old Rep. Samantha Lefebvre of Orange, fought hard and long in her House Government Operations committee to make S15, the universal mailed ballot bill, less susceptible to election fraud. She and a small group of other Republicans insisted that ballot harvesting be limited to no more than 25 ballots per person, and that by January 2023 the Secretary of State’s office deliver a report on “implementing a voter verification system in Vermont that will not disenfranchise voters and that will verify that ballots have been voted by registered voters, including a report back on the time, training and cost involved in implementing the system or systems.”
To Vermonters wondering why S15 also doesn’t require a requested absentee ballot, voter ID and duplicate signature verification, Lefebvre’s concessions may seem slight. But in a Democrat-controlled committee ruled by a strong-minded, liberal Democrat chair like Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford), Lefebvre’s determination delivered a small but measurable “win” for voter integrity. This was a remarkable achievement. S-15 is the brainchild of the Senate, which Copeland-Hanzas undoubtably knew would not welcome such amendments. Furthermore first-year rookie lawmakers are expected to be seen and not heard. It is understood that twerpy freshmen (freshwomen?) foolish enough to square off against the Big Men on Campus are quickly put in their place.
But none of this cliquey high school drama stuff mattered to Lefebvre, who saw Vermont electoral integrity at stake and realized that she was elected for such as time as this. Worn out by her insistence, and desperately seeking a unanimous vote, Hanzas blinked first. Lefebvre (and Rep. Mark Higley and others) got the concessions. Time will tell what the full House and Senate make of these changes.
Lefebvre is far from the only uppity woman taking an unpopular public stand on principle. Yesterday, retired businessman and full-time conservative gadfly Doug Richmond of Underhill emailed Vermont Daily this letter from Elizabeth Cady of Essex, a pro-school choice, Critical Race Theory critic mom who in March defeated an incumbent pro-Critical Race Theory, anti-school choice candidate for a seat on the Essex School Board. Like Lefebvre, she’s a woman dedicated to a vision of a Vermont committed to fairness and equality for all. And she’s not afraid to speak out and urge others to do likewise – including attending a Critical Race Theory meeting in Essex tonight.
|‘Equity and Inclusion’ report on school board agenda tonight in Essex Junction|
This Tuesday, May 4, starting at 6:30, the EWSD School Board will have a regularly scheduled meeting and hear from the EWSD Equity and Inclusion Director as she details the results of an equity audit given to both students (6-12) and staff of EWSD.
The district and Board have been very focused on equity in all aspects of the schools. However, I, personally, have concerns with the lack of communitywide engagement with this subject, and question if our community has been given the opportunity to digest this information and give feedback prior to its institution in curriculums.
What is the desired outcome of equity? Equity means that graduating students should be academically indistinguishable from one another. In other districts around the nation, the institution of equity has resulted in eliminating higher-level classes, and students capable of achieving more are no longer given the opportunity. In an extreme case, the Oregon Department of Education has gone as far as to eliminate correct answers to math equations, all in the name of equity, because if students are unable to attain the correct answer, their grades would be lower, and therefore, not equitable. This is the article. These two examples are why it is so important for our community to have access to exact plans on what the desired end-state of equity is within our schools.
It seems to me that the district’s focus on equity has been to divide our students based on race rather than focusing on other factors, such as income level disparities, English as a second language challenges, and more. There has been limited data collected with regard to equity, and of the reports that have been made available to the public, they lack numbers and data points necessary to ensure the data-based conclusions are made.
Critical Race Theory has been a main talking point in the news nationwide, and schools have not been forthcoming if they are instituting Critical Race Theory in the curriculums. Our district is providing professional development training to its teachers and staff utilizing Courageous Conversations, a program, which states the following: “We believe systemic racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all people, and especially people of color and indigenous people, to achieve at the highest levels.” Systemic racism is at the heart of Critical Race Theory teachings.
Whether or not you agree with the above being taught in schools is a personal choice, but my concern is that our community, as a whole, has been uninformed of these changes in schools and what it means to prioritize equity, specifically what is the desired end-state of equity in our schools. Personally, I believe ALL of our students should have equal opportunity for success by having equal access to educators, programs, and materials in a safe and unbiased environment. If our schools are not providing this equal opportunity and equal access to all students, then it is imperative that we make changes to ensure our district empowers all students to achieve their academic bests.
If, as a parent or taxpayer, you share some of these concerns or have some of your own, I encourage you to attend the meeting and speak. Even if you speak to simply agree with something that has already been said, it matters to have more voices heard. Registration is required and can be accessed here: https://ewsd.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIqdumuqDkvHdQThOHKrGNgoySFerwVQ1tm
I encourage you to send this email to others with the intent to revive and encourage community participation and decisions.
Speaking on my own accord and not that of the Board
Taking a stand has to start somewhere. Two Vermont women have found a hill, planted a flag, and called others to rally ’round.