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Press Release: Resisting Attacks on NPS’s Values

For Immediate Release: Monday, March 27, 2023

Parents and educators representing all schools in the Newton Public School system will be testifying in opposition to the formation of an “Academic Principles Advisory Committee”, which is being petitioned for by a small group of residents. Some members of this group are affiliated with the national organization Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), a non-profit organization which challenges diversity, equity and inclusion standards using parent-driven local actions. In addition to concerns over the affiliation of petition organizers, there is concern about the impact of a small group of unelected residents asking for oversight on the School Committee and NPS curriculum and goals.

In November 2022, some of the petitioners sought to overturn NPS's Statement of Values & Commitment to Racial Equity, in an effort to elevate an approach to education that minimizes the import of race and group identity in favor of a “color blind” approach. See their letter to the School Committee here: Request to Review DEI Statement. During the search for a NPS Superintendent, this group (now called ImproveNPS, formerly Newton Prohuman and Newton For All) wanted the new Superintendent to adopt the following ImproveNPS Values, which incorporates FAIR’s Model School District Policy on Educational Equity. The committee they seek to establish now is just the latest iteration in an attempt to undermine NPS core values.

Targeted diversity efforts are legal and have been used for six decades. NPS’s DEI policies and programming are part of NPS’s efforts to counter systemic racism, and actively promote equitable access and outcomes. There is precedent for this type of programming which addresses disparate outcomes and reduces racial isolation.

Examples of successful programs are Newton North’s Dover Legacy Scholars (DLS) and Newton South’s Legacy Scholars, which seeks to close the achievement gap among Newton students by providing staff mentors and academic seminars designed to build community and support. Because of the DLS program, Newton North High School has increased the number of Black and Hispanic students taking advanced and Honors classes. In the last seven years, NNHS has gone from fewer than 20 DLS members to 100 this year.

In fact, Newton North High School is one of only 26 high schools that will be recognized on April 5th, 2023, at “Advanced Placement Day at the State House”, because of its success expanding access to AP courses. NNHS was also awarded the College Board AP® Access Award due to its commitment to expanding access to AP courses at our school.

“Student connectedness” has also improved: six years ago, Black and Hispanic students reported a significantly lower rate than white and Asian students when asked if they felt connected to an adult in the building. This year Black and Hispanic students responded to this question at the same rate as their Asian and White peers. Similar programs at Newton South and our Middle Schools are equally impactful.

NPS’s track record includes creating programming and policies targeting racial inequities, anti-semitic and racist incidents, and inclusion for LGBTQ youth, all of which contributes to a safe and inclusive environment for all students to thrive. This commitment to equity is a means to achieve excellence for all students, as measured by these recent successes in NPS student achievement.

Sources for press: A resource list of parents and experts willing to speak on the record available upon request.


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