-0.6 C
New York
Saturday, February 17, 2024

Rhode Island parents enraged at school board for removing honors classes in ‘equity obsession’

Barrington, Rhode Island, public schools are among the best in the state. Many parents move to the district, and tolerate the higher taxes, because of the academic rigor that sets their children up for attending Ivy League schools or receiving academic merit scholarships. However, all of that academic appeal is being chipped away after the district brought in a so-called “equity and inclusion” agenda. 

De-leveling, or a system of universal learning, was first implemented in Barrington on the most vulnerable students—the students with learning disabilities and Individualized Education Programs (IEP). In February 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school removed some conceptual classes. On the whole, parents of children in those classes were reluctant to speak out because they ran the risk of “outing” their child as having a disability or needing special accommodation.

A mom whose daughter has an IEP and attended the removed conceptual classes said that de-leveling has caused her daughter’s grades to decline. The mother requested anonymity in order to protect her daughter’s identity. 

“I don’t think I would ever be a fan of de-leveling, but the timing [to implement it during COVID] is what makes it very suspicious to me. So it just felt like it was an easy way for them to get their agenda through without pushback because people were so busy dealing with other stuff,” she told Fox News Digital. 


The mom continued, “It [took away] any kind of individuality … or … personalized education plan for kids. It’s ‘you’re just going to be some homogenized like education factory where they raise everybody’s the same.'”

Rage broke loose among parents of all political stripes after the honors students were targeted, parents said. The school announced that the days of honors English and social studies were gone. Parents protested, arguing that the move deprived their children of a competitive edge – and in effect – future opportunities such as merit scholarships. 

During a March 30 meeting, over a dozen parents and students scolded the school board

Parent speaks at March 30 Barrington Public Schools meeting. 

Parent speaks at March 30 Barrington Public Schools meeting. 

“My daughter has lost out on opportunities which could affect merit scholarships for her, which I think is appalling … You don’t really know what you’re doing on this,” one mother said.

A parent who identified himself as a dentist with immigrant parents from Mexico said, “You guys are doing this for someone like me. My parents … didn’t speak English … Nobody asked me. Like, I’m the person that you’re supposedly trying to help. So you guys have your own idea of what diversity, equity and inclusion means, and it doesn’t take into account an actual person that has been through some of the worst public schools in Chicago, lives in neighborhoods where people are shooting each other, drug dealers and gang members … That’s where I grew up till I was about 12. So how come no one is asking me? I have a lot to share.”


He continued, “If you guys really believe in [equity], then pick an average or below average dentist and see what you get. But you guys get the ratings, and you pick the best that’s available. And you know what? For some fields, that’s what you need. You need the best. And I’m here to speak about that …  It’s embarrassing that you guys have done this.”

Parent speaks at March 30 Barrington Public Schools meeting. 

Parent speaks at March 30 Barrington Public Schools meeting. 

Another Barrington father said, “Barrington administrators hired a consultant to justify this … And yet no one thought about the impact this would have on kids applying for financial aid or for college admissions. Not one top school in our state or Massachusetts has gotten rid of honors. Not one. And our consultant that you hired is all proud that we were going to be the first one. I’m not sure that’s something we want to be proud of.”

According to Barrington High School, a consultant named Katie Novak was used for training to help implement the changes for a “universal design for learning.” 

Barrington said, “Teachers have received training on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the district and through the coaching of an expert trainer, Dr. Katie Novak. The coaching and professional development have increased over the past two years to include de-leveling strategies.”

Novak said in an explainer post about de-leveling that “Too many individuals and schools support oppressive and ableist structures where access to advanced coursework is a privilege that students have to earn.”She continued, “All students deserve opportunities to access grade-level instruction and become expert learners and this is not possible when we continue to track students in different levels based on antiquated models of school success.”

Parent speaks at March 30 Barrington Public Schools meeting. 

Parent speaks at March 30 Barrington Public Schools meeting. 

As of 2022, Barrington High School’s U.S. News ranking plummeted to #308 on a list among the top high schools in the country, down many notches from 189th in 2019.

Bill Jacobson, a long-time Barrington resident and founder of Legal Insurrection, said, “De-leveling is part of an agenda of equalizing outcomes. This equal-results approach stems from critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion, which posit that unequal outcomes are the result of systemic bias and discrimination. ‘Equity’ in particular is the codeword for bringing high achievers down to equalize outcomes,” Jacobson said. “‘Equity’ has become an unhealthy obsession, and parents are seeing the impact.”


Fox News Digital reached out to Novak and Barrington High School’s principal for a comment but did not receive a response. 

Hannah Grossman is an associate editor at Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent on Twitter: @GrossmanHannah.

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles