Clapping back: Educators express support for board | Local News | –


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Calvert’s public education workforce sensed it was time for the community to hear their take on several controversial issues that have drawn the ire — and resulted in legal action — from a group of county residents.During the local school board’s Sept. 23 work session, the public comment segment reached its 10-speaker limit — another ongoing controversy — and seven of the speakers were school system employees who affirmed everyone is working diligently to weather the current bus driver shortage and resulting traffic issues as well as deal with COVID-19 sanctions.Most of the speakers also claimed accusations that teachers and other staff are implementing tenets of critical race theory into school curriculum are unfounded.During the board’s Sept. 9 meeting, a few speakers asked the school board members to resign, leveling accusations that they didn’t care about children.“The school staff has your back,” Mike Spahr, the Maryland State Education Association representative for Calvert’s school employee unions, told the board during the work session. Spahr said critics of the board’s recently enacted anti-racism policy have “twisted” the declaration “into a culture war over misunderstood prejudice.”“I could not allow those voices to be the only voices in room,” said Stacy Tayman, president of Calvert Association of Educational Support Staff, in reference to the amplified criticism that has dominated recent meeting forums.“Civility has been lost,” said Tayman, who indicated the critics needed to become engaged in the process of educating Calvert’s youth.“You want to see the change, be the change,” she said, drawing mostly applause and one loud “boo” from a male meeting attendee.“I’ve reached my limit with the inaccurate comments I’ve listened to while viewing these meetings at home,” teacher Betty Goldstein said. “I am embarrassed by what you [school board] have gone through and the way you have been treated.”When told her time was up, Goldstein wrapped up her comments by declaring, “We are not teaching CRT,” referring to critical race theory.Critical race theory is a broad collection of ideas about systemic bias and privilege that says race is a social construct and racism is common, according to news reports.Calvert school board, and the Maryland board of education, have mandated the wearing of masks in every school building. The quarantining of a children who may have possibly been exposed to COVID-19 has also drawn the ire of some parents.“This situation is not perfect. It can’t be. We’re in the middle of a pandemic,” declared Lisa Spencer, a Southern Middle School special education teacher. Spencer added she has spoken with students “who don’t care about wearing masks or social distancing.”Noting that closing schools indefinitely in March 2020 jeopardized the jobs of support staff, support staff union member Priscilla Bradley told the board and administrators, “You kept us employed. Thank you for being open to change and supporting your staff.”Robin Cox of Huntingtown, one of seven local women who have filed suit against the school board and superintendent claiming the recent implementation of the anti-racism policy violates their constitutional rights, stated the system’s educators were using teaching tools from “Learning for Justice,” a website previously known as “Teaching Tolerance.”“It’s obvious these teaching tools are from a radical, leftist perspective and are in no way politically neutral. Teachers are licensed professionals and using the classroom to promote personally held political beliefs is malpractice,” Cox said.The plaintiffs, united under the name Save Calvert Schools, are being represented by attorney Charles Edward Hartman. They want the court to “order defendants to remove all policies, practices, procedures and materials [related to anti-racism] from the [Calvert County Public Schools] curriculum, faculty and staff training, CCPS codes of conduct and any other aspects of the CCPS environment.”During board comments, member Pat Nutter revived a previous motion to allow for an unlimited number of citizens to address the meetings. Nutter’s motion was seconded, but again defeated. The 10-speaker limit was implemented this year after the school board resumed live meetings.Twitter: @MartySoMdNews

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