Many members of our community often speak during the public participation portion of the town Board of Education meetings. Below is the speech written by Danielle Lozer about her family’s personal experience.
My main reason for speaking today is to thank Dr. Correia, in public, for his willingness to confront the racism going on at Reed. I’m referring to the letter to parents informing about an uptick in the N-word being used by 5th and 6th graders.
A couple of months ago, I got a call from Dr. Correia. He told me that my son had reported to the teacher that a classmate said the N-word behind him while he was walking in the hall. He first told a friend, who then had to convince him to tell the teacher. My son didn’t come home that day and tell me or his dad what happened. Without his friend, I’m not sure I would have even heard about it and my son would have just internalized it.
Dr. Correia and I spoke at length and he told me that he was embarrassed and shocked that this happened at his school and horrified that my son had to hear this word. As was I.
I’m so sad (but not surprised) we are hearing that there have been more cases of this in recent weeks.
These are children that are between 10 and 12 years old! And if stuff like this goes unchecked, to what levels will this escalate when my son hits middle or high school?
I spoke to this Board in April about minority recruitment and told you I grew up in a town that racially looks just like Newtown. I repeated to you some of the racial statements made against my siblings and myself in school.
Here I am 39 years later and my son is being subjected to the same thing.
Myself and other members of this community have come up to this table week after week, month after month since at least last summer to talk to this Board and this Community about why DEI and Culturally Responsive History. We have also written letters to the Board, the Bee and on local FB Groups. We have asked for the school community to be educated in race relations through DEI initiatives. We have asked to make reporting this stuff easier so that we can bring solid proof that DEI is necessary.
And this is exactly why.
After the nation witnessed the George Floyd murder, some people acted. As a matter-of-fact, the former Board acted. They put a DEI coordinator in place and promised the black and brown citizens of this town that we, Newtown were going to do better.
Imagine being black and having a sense of hope that the town we live in is going to be different than what we are seeing in the greater country. That “Nicer in Newtown” or “Be Kind” is are real town creeds.
Let this letter from Dr. Correia be the Fair warning here. Because this is happening HERE. This is happening now. My son already heard the word. It can’t be taken back.
Dr. Correia has no dog in the fight. He’s a white male. He is the principal of a school and he has not a thing to gain by revealing in a letter that his school has a major problem.
No, this isn’t Selma, Alabama in the 1960’s. But I can tell you the same thing that was happening to me in Florida in the late 1980’s just happened to my son in Newtown in 2022! This is not progress!
We need to educate our kids and teachers about the history that black people have faced in this country and learn how not to make the same mistakes because whatever we are doing now, ain’t working!
I want to see the same enthusiasm, energy and quick action with this issue as I did when a high school teacher offered to give extra credit to students for wearing rainbow colors during Pride month. Before the day was through, calls had been made from this Board to put an immediate stop to it and the teacher complied.
I hope we can see actions that every parent on this Board would expect and demand for their own kids.