“Asking teachers to conceal anything from parents does not reflect the mission, vision and values of the Rockwood School District,” reads Willott’s email sent Friday to parents. “As a district, we strive for transparency, and we recognize that open communication is vital between parents and staff to best serve the needs of our students. We also value you as essential partners and allies in the education of our children, and we are always willing to discuss questions or concerns related to all aspects of your children’s education.”

Janet Deidrick, whose son is in ninth grade, said she was “heartsick” when listening to the audio book and hearing what she describes as racial stereotypes and anti-police sentiment.

“It seems that they have an agenda to turn our children into political activists and we don’t believe that’s what school is for, especially when only one side is being shown,” she said. “I don’t think they’re bringing the races together, I think they’re dividing.”

Virtual schooling nationwide has given parents a window into their students’ classes, leading to debates over curriculum. On one side, parents say districts are pushing social justice and equity ideals that amount to a Marxist takeover of schools that paints white students as oppressors and Black students as victims. The other side says schools should acknowledge the legacy and continued effects of slavery and segregation to counteract racism and build more equitable communities.


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