Maloney: Nonprofit speaks out against revising Milford school policy


We, the members of the Youth & School Officials Action Group, a committee of Speak Out Against Hate, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in Delaware, are extremely concerned about the proposed revision to Policy 6103 by the Milford School District. The revision aims to require staff to ensure all learning environments are free from content, items or conduct that could create an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.”

We believe not only that such policies could throw a pall over freedom of speech and expression in the classroom but that the vagueness of this proposed policy change will lead to confusion for school personnel. What plans are there to educate the educators on how to roll out this proposal? What about establishing partnerships for all stakeholders, students, teachers, administrators, community members and the like?

It seems that students are very much left out of the revision, yet they were out in numbers to be heard at the June 17 school board meeting. A common theme heard was that students learn best by experiential and hands-on learning.

By requiring staff to ensure that all learning environments are free from such content, items or conduct that could create an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment,” do they consider how controversial topics, such as the Holocaust or evolution, are to be taught? Worse yet, this policy could demand that “all sides of these issues” be presented. In what reality is there another side to the Holocaust? In what scientific world does evolution have a plausible alternative?

What problem does this policy change seek to remedy?

Is it wrong for kids to wear political slogans, display flags or disagree with representations being taught? We do not think so. If such displays create disruptions in the education process, perhaps they should be viewed as teaching moments, to allow diverse expression and understanding of other viewpoints.

We would advise everyone to express concern about the direction this new policy is leading the Milford School District. How can our children develop resilience and critical thinking if all staff and educators are required to walk on eggshells?

If the school district hopes to ensure a fair, inclusive and effective atmosphere in which students can be seen and heard, this policy will accomplish the opposite.

It would appear that, due to the actions of the American Civil Liberties Union and the strong show of support in opposition to the changes to Policy 6103, there was no vote June 17 on this issue. Rather, it was tabled until the July 15 meeting. Any new revisions under consideration must include all stakeholders’ input, not only the Milford school board’s, if we are to go forward with an equitable and fair policy.

Discomfort with difficult topics is how we grow.

Patty Maloney

President, Speak Out Against Hate

Facilitator, Youth & School Officials Action Group


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