Chelsea Community Forum Notes, 10-9-21

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From the Chelsea Community Forum

Approximately 12 people participated in the Chelsea Community Forum (CCF) that met via Zoom on October 9th.

The previously scheduled unscripted dialogue with mayoral and city council candidates had been canceled after three of the candidates elected not to participate. Nonetheless, several candidates (Steven Wright, Tony Iannelli, and William Ruddock) joined the meeting and were offered a chance to introduce themselves and share a few words about the reasons for their city council candidacy.

The group offered topics for discussion and spent the entirety of the forum discussing (1) civility and the nature of discourse in Chelsea and (2) school curricula. The forum was recorded and the Zoom video link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/LplhcgQf-f35PfhVm3LFFbwgaotjWnGvwC8G0e7iqgneOx36_a9T51pz2KXT4gnH.4r3_mVPpGiVzLkRl

Passcode: mHW%1yBG

This included discussion of a van depicting graphic abortion pictures parked in Chelsea, at or near the schools, and visible to school-aged children. Points of discussion focused on First Amendment rights, abortion not being a black and white question, the importance that all groups share the same set of facts, and the opportunity for parents to discuss/educate their children about controversial topics and ways to convey these topics to the general public.

The discussion then drifted to the school’s curriculum, specifically Critical Race Theory or CRT. Some expressed anxiety that CRT is taught in our public schools and it is organized upon the basis of oppressor and victim, causing White children to be labeled or perceive themselves as oppressors or racists. It was noted that CRT is not taught in local public schools.

Some reported that the complexities of CRT are not well understood and its meaning is muddied by Christopher Rufo, an American activist, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and an opponent of CRT. On March 13th, 2021 he tweeted:

“We have successfully frozen their brand—"critical race theory"—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.”

A couple of participants expressed frustration in obtaining information about the school curriculum from the district without employing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). They believed the district’s utilization of FOIA, did not engender trust in the public school’s curriculum.

The next Chelsea Community Forum is scheduled for November 13th at 9 AM. This meeting and discussion will be in conjunction with Civility Month and Rod Anderson will present a brief description of the book “The Righteous Mind, Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt.

The CCF is open to all with an interest in the affairs of the Chelsea School District area and meets the 2nd Saturday of every month at 9:00 AM, currently on Zoom. The meeting link can be found on the Forum’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/chelseamiforum/home and is advertised through the Chelsea Update newsletter.

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