Byrne and Local Parents Stand Against Taxpayer Funding Tied to Controversial DEI Policies

Posted: December 22, 2021 in Education, Equality
Complete press conference may be viewed on YouTube

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R, C, I, SAM, ROS-Mahopac) held a press conference Tuesday morning to call on the NYS Department of Education (NYSED) to scrap any effort to tie state financial assistance for school districts to the firmly recommended, but highly controversial “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Framework and Policy Statement.” 

Last week, Assemblymembers Kevin Byrne and Colin Schmitt joined with their colleague, ranking member of the NYS Assembly Education Committee, Doug Smith, in writing a letter to NYSED Commissioner Dr. Betty A. Rosa stressing the importance of respecting local control and their opposition to heavy-handed state mandates or incentives tied to the implementation of DEI. Several specific concerns with the DEI policy were cited in the letter sent to Commissioner Rosa.

Last week in their list of Budget and Legislative Priorities for the 2022-23 School Year, the NYS Board of Regents included a new one million dollar funding request to subsidize schools who adopt Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives and the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining framework.

“We should trust in our families, respect parents, and honor local control. Our educators should continue to teach history, the good and the bad, but not rewrite it,” said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne. “We firmly reject any attempt to tie state funding of schools to the implementation of DEI or CRS in our schools. Our elected school board members and local officials often talk about the costly mandates forced on them from Albany, and with good reason because they come at a price. If you tie highly controversial and divisive policy to state aid, it will be perceived by many as a new mandate. We ask the rest of our state elected leaders to honor local control and respect parents who seek to advocate for their children at a local level.”

Although he was unable to attend in person, Assemblyman Colin Schmitt provided the following statement, “The State Education Department is attempting to use the state budget process to trample local control of our schools and implement CRT and its underlying principles. This is wrong, and it once again demonstrates the Albany bureaucrats’ disrespect for parents and elected school boards. Our children deserve a high-quality education that prepares them for college and to compete in a global economy. That’s the State Education Department’s sole responsibility. There is no place for CRT and other aspects of this partisan political agenda in our classrooms.”

“With the cute way incentives are done with state aid, the state will dictate what goes on in our local school curricula,” said Frank Del Campo, former Putnam Deputy County Executive and school administrator. “From my experience in school administration, the best sources in writing curricula are the actual school administrators, teachers and stakeholders within your own school district, and not bureaucrats in Albany.”

“As a parent, I feel compelled to educate myself on what is happening in our schools and engage other parents and community members to encourage them to get involved,” said Sarah Hanganu, Chair of Dutchess County Moms for Liberty. “We are here to ask Commissioner Rosa to not tie conditional funding to the implementation of these divisive educational frameworks.”

“Since the start of January of this year, Moms for Liberty has grown to over 160 chapters across 33 states with more than 70,000 members,” said Abby O’Brien, Vice-Chair of Putnam County Moms for Liberty. “I’m here today on behalf of all New York chapters of Moms for Liberty to oppose the tying of state funds to DEI in our schools.”

While unable to attend in person, John Curzio, member of the Carmel Central School District Board of Education, did provide a personal statement on his own behalf stating, “The statement I am making today are my personal comments and I am not speaking on behalf of the board or any other board member… The idea that Albany would tie critical school funding to the implementation of the controversial, and so called ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion framework’ is absurd. This framework seeks to divide us at a critical time when we need to unite as a community, as a state, and as a nation. We should not be planting the idea amongst our children that they are defined by their race, which this framework endorses.” 

The above information was previously distributed and made public for immediate release by the Office of Assemblyman Kevin Byrne