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Open Letter to AISNE.

In effort to make make our voices heard, Parents United has sent the following letter to The Association of Independent Schools in New England. We hope you will show your support by filling out the form below the letter. And don't worry, we'll never share your name with AISNE or publicly in any way! 

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To: The Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE)

 

In the spirit of continuous improvement and with the intent of staying at the forefront of scholarship and leadership, we are writing to introduce ourselves and to highlight growing concerns about the direction of education among AISNE schools.

Parents United (www.parentsunited.org) is a group of hundreds of dedicated, involved, and informed parents devoted to ensuring our children are free to develop their critical thinking skills within an educational environment steeped in diversity of thought.

As the public discourse erodes and the complexity of life increases, we believe that diversity of thought in K-12 is more important than ever. Critical thinking, logic, and other essential cognitive skills develop during childhood, and it is essential that our children learn to engage in thoughtful and respectful conversations. One cannot truly develop their own perspective until they understand additional viewpoints.

In consultation with FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), a non-partisan civil rights organization, we have witnessed the growing threats to free and open discourse on America’s campuses, and the perilous implications of academic censorship, regardless of good intentions.

 

What has been happening on college campuses for years is now trickling down to K-12 schools. We worry that these accelerating trends pose a considerable and demonstrable threat to the quality education we wish to provide for our children.

We believe that AISNE must take a stand and help defend the “right to disagree.” This year, more than ever, we have seen through our own eyes--and through Zoom--the chilling of speech.

As the accrediting agency for our children’s schools, AISNE plays an integral, overarching role in helping independent schools uphold their missions, which for many includes the academic excellence that we, as parents, sacrifice so much of our time and financial resources. AISNE highlights its commitment to diversity, but its words, actions, speakers, and professional development since this summer seem to be narrowly focused and politically charged. They leave little room for free inquiry.

We are asking AISNE to take a principled stand in favor of free speech and to encourage diversity of thought. There are numerous ways to accomplish this important work, but we will suggest two:

1. As part of the accreditation process, schools must create their own versions of the Chicago Statement (see excerpt below), which will compel institutions to protect the free expression rights of students, faculty, staff, and parents.

 

“Because “the school” is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the “school” community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn . . . . [I]t is not the proper role of the “school” to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

—Excerpt from the Chicago Statement

 

2. Engage people who represent diverse viewpoints to speak to schools, parents, and students. The Coddling of The American Mind, is a thoughtful book that speaks to many of today’s issues. Our schools need to hear from voices like it’s author, Greg Lukianoff, to provide some much needed balance.

We are calling on AISNE to take reasonable steps to guarantee schools live up to their missions, fulfill their expectations and promises to families, and ensure their faculty and staff honor high standards of professional ethics.

 

AISNE has done such a thorough job advancing DEI work; the natural next step to complement this effort is to vigorously promote diversity of thought.

 

As many schools prepare to “evaluate” curriculum this summer, this work takes on a greater sense of urgency. 

We look forward to discussing this at your earliest convenience and can be reached at ashley@parentsunited.org.
 

Signed,

Parents United

 
 
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