By Ray Cardello for Jun. 5, 2021 Season 1 / Post 140
Desert Valley Elementary School is in the Peoria Unified School District in Arizona. The Principal of this school, Tonja Neve, started a firestorm when she targeted nearly a dozen parents who spoke at a Dec. 10 school board meeting. Those parents were speaking in opposition to a proposed curriculum that would promote elements of critical race theory.
Why am I concerned with an elementary school principal from Arizona? Our small town, Exeter, New Hampshire, is getting a new Principal for one of our two elementary schools. Tonja Neve is that new hire. We may be getting much more than a grade school administrator. What we might be getting is a storm front from Arizona. There is a cold wind blowing.
Tonja Neve is scheduled to start her new job in Exeter, NH on July 1st.
The school board meeting we are talking about garnered national attention because of Peoria’s parents’ resistance. They were very upset and vocal in their opposition to a proposed new curriculum that would include teaching about Critical Race Theory. Parents were concerned about the divisive element this topic would bring to their children.
Critical Race Theory is considered a Marxist-based philosophy that contends that the color of their skin predetermines a person’s place in society. Many feel that this theory, along with the 1619 Project, is not something to be taught in any school but especially not in elementary schools. Children in grades K-5 cannot understand the theory of CRT or the 1619 Project. Presenting these topics to this age group only injects fear, doubt, guilt, and divisiveness into their young minds. Parents are justified in their concern and speaking up, as they showed, is their best defense against unwanted or harmful elements of their children’s curriculum.
Any administrator to label these concerned parents as “Whackos” or “Pushy” is beyond reprehensible. This information may not have been available when the Exeter School Department decision was made to hire Tonja Neve. I would hope, however, that the subject of CRT was explored and the candidate’s views put on the table during the vetting process. If they were, and her philosophy aligns with the Exeter School Board on CRT and the 1619 Project, then the Town of Exeter has a bigger problem.
Miss Neve has apologized for her comments which were uncovered in her professional email account. The group Young America’s Foundation used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the internal emails. Now that they have been revealed, the decision to move forward with her employment to begin on July 1 needs to be reconsidered. An apology for comments like those made by Neve does not come close to eradicating this lapse in judgement.
With full disclosure, our children, and I say that I do not have children in the Exeter School System, have been subjected to enough challenges in the last two years. They do not need to be subjected to Race-based thinking in elementary school. Leave this debate and discussion to college, and maybe high school, where it can be debated and not accepted as factual.
Its author has already debunked the 1619 Project. The name Critical Race Theory labels the subject as theory and not fact. Elementary school children have enough to worry about learning facts, keep the theories out of K-5.