A “W” for Concerned Parents and Taxpayers

Earlier this week, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,I,SAM,ROS-Mahopac) received an update from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) via a press statement that the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy (DEI) is not mandated, nor will the framework or policy be tied to state aid.

“This is a victory for parents, guardians and educators everywhere,” said Byrne. “While NYSED did not specifically reference any other program funding or incentives, eliminating any additional potential talk of tying these divisive frameworks to taxpayer assistance in our budget process is important. We will certainly continue to follow this closely throughout the budget negotiations. Clarification that these policies are not mandated is also very noteworthy and important information for various local school districts.”

Last month, Byrne was joined by concerned parents, educators and local residents in front of the Sybil Ludington Monument in Carmel who objected to specific items, included in the state’s divisive policy statements and DEI frameworks. Together, they advocated for local control and against tying the state’s DEI proposal, or other race-based teachings, to taxpayer assistance or aid within the state’s budget (2021, Byrne, Schmitt, Smith).

In an update to a Jan. 9, 2022 article on Byrne’s press conference, the NYSED was quoted by the Yonkers Times as stating, “The department is in no way tying state aid to a diversity, equity and inclusion mandate, and to clarify, no such mandate exists.”

The NYSED statement’s reference to ‘state aid’ is likely a reference to formula aid or Foundation Aid, which directly supports our public schools. The statement did not specifically reference any other program funding or incentives, such as the Dec. 10, 2021 Board of Regents request to further incentivize DEI in schools (NYSED), but further limiting or removing any potential new talk of these divisive frameworks from the budget process is still viewed by many as a victory.

Also noteworthy is that within the NYSED’s recent statement to the Yonkers Times they confirmed that, once again, “no such mandate exists.” This is important because it contradicts the essence of previous information released by the Board of Regents in April 2021 which said “Through this framework, the Board of Regents is expressing its expectation that all school districts will develop policies that advance diversity, equity and inclusion – and that they implement such policies with fidelity and urgency.”

This more recent information provided by NYSED helps address some of the serious concerns from parents and local residents who want to engage with their locally-elected school boards, and not simply rely on bureaucrats in Albany or Washington, DC.

SOURCES

Letter to NYSED, Dec. 15, 2021

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fvbnPFSbRCK7rOmXFJmPRlEs0GrJ6Dn7/view

Byrne & Local Parents Stand Against Taxpayer Funding Tied To DEI Initiatives. Yonkers Times, Jan. 9, 2022 http://yonkerstimes.com/byrne-local-parents-stand-against-taxpayer-funding-tied-to-dei-initiatives/

New York State Board of Regents Launches an Initiative to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in New York Schools. New York State Education Department (NYSED), April 12, 2021 http://www.nysed.gov/news/2021/new-york-state-board-regents-launches-initiative-advance-diversity-equity-and-inclusion

Board of Regents to Advance Comprehensive $2.1 Billion State Aid Request, and Budget and Legislative Priorities for the 2022-23 School Year. NYSED, Dec. 10, 2021 http://www.nysed.gov/news/2021/board-regents-advance-comprehensive-21-billion-state-aid-request-and-budget-and