Letter – ‘Gentrified’ Jim Crow?

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I recently read the Isle of Wight County School Board’s proposed amendments to policy INB, “Teaching About Controversial Issues”. The document is available to the public  at https://go.boarddocs.com/va/iwcs/Board.nsf/files/CNPJCU4C94B2/$file/INB%20DRAFT%20Revision_Maresh_rev3.pdf

I applaud the board’s statement that “preparation for effective citizenship includes the study of issues that are controversial.” Sadly, the next few lines reveal its true ambitions are control rooted in fear.

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Item 3 claims it wants students to think critically, openly and thoroughly. These proposals clearly intend to “promote, advance the idea, or persuade students” that only one, official perspective is acceptable to the board. 

Item 5 would exclude “race” from students’ view of life. Accomplishing this would require students to be blinded. Race is an inescapable fact of being in the human race.

Item 6 lists 18 descriptions revealing how desperately and broadly the School Board seeks to limit and control the students’ thinking, instead of freeing them for genuine critical thought.

Item 9 says, in effect, “Yes, bad things have happened in our country, but no one is responsible and there is nothing we can do about them.” This is itself the blatant indoctrination the board claims it wishes to avoid. It says, “Do as we say, not as we do.”   

We dare not sanitize the raw facts of our nation’s real but erratic progress toward its highest ambitions of liberty and justice for all. History does not exist for us to like or dislike; history is. We either mature and grow from its enduring lessons or we ignore them and repeat our worst mistakes. These proposals could be heard as upscaled, coded language of a gentrified “Jim Crow.”

These absurd proposals would be laughable were they not so heinous. If adopted, they will insult and further hinder overburdened classroom teachers; undermine the purpose of genuine education; drive away quality teachers; prevent students’ genuine critical thought; limit students’ higher education options; and produce automatons, not effective citizens.  

The author(s) of these proposals are foxes in the education hen house hoping we will believe them as they explain how the feathers on their lips will produce more and better eggs. The fear driving these proposed policies is clear, unapologetic and unacceptable from leaders elected to ensure all IW students receive a quality education for effective citizenship.


Joseph D. Carson