Eighteen current and former high-schoolers in Manhattan’s District 2 are calling on the elected parent president of the district’s Community Education Council to resign after she publicly criticized proposed Education Department guidelines meant to address systemic bias and create a more diverse curriculum.
The teens, some of whom are members of the advocacy group Teens Take Charge, which has pushed to the city to integrate schools, said in a petition that council president Maud Maron, who’s currently running for City Council, is misrepresenting “culturally responsive education” and advancing her own political interests.
“Her language is based on some pretty racist and harmful ideas,” Coco Rhum, a 17-year-old graduate of District 2’s selective Beacon High School who co-wrote the petition, told the Daily News.
“She is using her elected position of power to promote her own opinions, not the interests of her diverse constituents,” students wrote in the petition.
In an emailed response to students that Maron shared with The News, she said “the conversation around Culturally Responsive Education and the best means for closing New York’s achievement gap is an important one” and invited the teens to “an open dialogue.”
Maron previously accused the the new guidelines of falsely pinning educational inequality on white privilege, and distracting from other educational priorities.
The teens first emailed Maron on July 25 asking for a public apology, telling her they’d release the petition Wednesday if they didn’t receive one.
The guidelines, a priority for schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, call on schools to use teaching techniques and materials relevant to students’ backgrounds.
The guidelines also admit schools are shaped by “biases and inequities deeply rooted in this country’s history” and ask schools to “identify and interrupt policies and practices that center historically advantaged social/cultural groups.”
Rhum said students who signed on to the petition saw those biases first-hand in classes that focused disproportionately on European history or used books mostly by white authors.
“Making education more inclusive of people’s backgrounds…makes education more impactful,” she said.
Rhum also rejected Maron’s concern that culturally responsive education can detract from teaching the basics of reading and math.
“It doesn’t take away from becoming literate, it enhances it,” she said.