The Wappingers Central School District hired a Critical Race Theory proponent and engaged in a multi-layered cover up to conceal from the public the new administrator’s beliefs on race in education.
Jenny Schinella, age 45, currently the Director of Educational Resources at Dutchess BOCES, was hired last month by WCSD as the Director of ELA and Social Studies. The start date is Thursday December 8, 2022.
Twitter Account Deleted Hours After It Becomes a Problem
On November 7, 2022, with the WCSD Board vote on Schinella’s hire set for that evening, district parents became aware of Schinella’s support for CRT in the classroom. Parents contacted me with their concerns. I personally sent Superintendent Dr. Dwight Bonk and Board Trustees John Morgan and Ed Sloshower screenshots of Schinella’s posts supporting CRT concepts in the classroom from her Twitter account.
I asked Dr. Bonk to postpone the vote on the decision to hire Schinella so this information could be vetted. Within hours of district officials being made aware of Schinella’s tweets, Schinella deleted her Twitter account.
Prior to the vote to hire Schinella on November 7, 2022, officials were made aware that Schinella deleted her Twitter account. Still, the district plowed ahead and voted to hire her to the tenure track position that pays $125,757.00 per year, plus a generous benefits package.
Schinella’s Supports CRT in the Classroom
“Anti-Racism” and “Anti-Racists”
Screenshots of a small number of Schinella’s Twitter posts were taken prior to her deleting the account. They demonstrate that her focus as an educator has been on CRT concepts.
On November 7, 2021 Schinella retweeted Paul Gorski of the Equity Literacy Institute stating, “Dear white educational and organizational leaders: Yes, being an anti-racist leader sometimes can be hard. But remember, it is not as hard as being someone who is racially oppressed in an organization where nobody has the knowledge, skills, and will to be an anti-racist leader.”
Anti-racism is essentially reverse discrimination. In his book How to Be an Anti-Racist, author Ibram X. Kendi says emphatically, “The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
After the final three and half months of the 2020 academic year were obliterated by COVID-19, Schinella’s summer reading books while heading Education Resources at Dutchess BOCES included two books, Not Light But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom and How to Be an Anti-Racist.
“Grading for Equity”
Schinella’s tweets include an August 1, 2022 tweet that exclaims “My grading will never be the same!” after reading Grading for Equity: What it is, Why it Matters, and How it Can Transform Schools and Classrooms. Schinella tweeted the next day that she is “Re-energizing for the school year” with this book.
The book’s author Joe Feldman explains that “equitable grading” is “a moral imperative if we truly are committed to disrupting our schools’ cycles of race and income achievement disparities.” But grading for equity essentially means an elimination of accountability for students because it bars penalizing students for missed work or poor quality work. It is a classic example of what many educators refer to as the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Equity grading is controversial even among educators. For example, in April of this year, teachers at two schools in Stamford, Connecticut issued a vote of “no confidence” against the Superintendent after equity grading was implemented.
A CRT Career
Schinella is a Member of Hudson Valley Educators for Equity and Social Justice. Over the past year, while working at Dutchess BOCES, Schinella led seminars and offered programing for educators on CRT topics including:
“Examining Power and Privilege”
“Actions For White Education Co-Conspirators”
“Youth Led Racial Book Audits”
“Haikus About Hybrid Learning and Equity”
“Dutchess BOCES Equity & Social Justice”
“Invisible Conditions Preventing Equitable Change”
“Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging & Equity”
“Getting Started with Systemic Culturally Responsive School Leadership”
“Culture and Discipline”
Those with Nothing to Hide
Don’t Delete Their Twitter Accounts
It does not speak well of Ms. Schinella’s character that she immediately deleted her Twitter account after I raised questions about some of its content. The taxpayers of the district who will foot the bill for her generous compensation package, as well as the teachers and parents of the district, deserve to know why she deleted her account and whether any district officials suggested that she delete the account.
Why It Matters
CRT Is Societal Poison. The public school system should not be used to weaken society. However, the goal of CRT is to fracture society to the point where it has to be rebuilt from scratch based on leftist notions of “equity.”
As the intellectual founders of CRT readily admit, CRT holds that “white privilege” and “systemic racism” exists in contemporary society. So CRT divides people into either “oppressed” or “oppressor.” This is done in an effort to foment distrust and animosity amongst the two groups and cause society to rupture.
Unlike the Civil Rights movement’s goal of equality, where everyone has the same opportunity at a prosperous life, CRT promotes equity. Equity explicitly seeks to punish perceived oppressors and reward those perceived to be oppressed.
Telling a child he is an oppressor or a victim is not education. Nor is teaching children to be ashamed of their country with a hyperfocus on the negatives of our history without the proper context of our triumphs and progress.
Indoctrination Over Education
Unsurprisingly, neither Schinella’s personal Twitter account nor the Dutchess BOCES Educational Resources Twitter account Schinella controlled as head of Dutchess BOCES Educational Resources appear to ever use the terms Critical Race Theory or CRT. But the accounts are overwhelmingly dedicated to programming for teachers that enhance their ability to implement CRT concepts in the classroom.
In her new position at WCSD, Schinella will be teaching the teachers and staff about pedagogical and grading techniques. She will be providing curriculum options and recommending books to assign, while also observing and evaluating teacher performance. Schinella will have significant input on decisions such as hiring new teachers and determining whether a teacher receives tenure. Educators will explicitly or implicitly be pressured to teach CRT programming to advance their career.
In short, this new role gives Schinella an opportunity to be a force-multiplier for CRT in the WCSD schools.
If Schinella continues to advocate for a divisive racial political ideology as she has done throughout her career, Schinella’s hyper-focus on race will come at a significant opportunity cost. Rather than providing professional development for teachers that will improve student literacy or enhance understanding of history and literature, Schinella will be emphasizing privilege, oppression and social justice. Instead of working to improve the education of minority students, her focus will be to lower standards through equity grading.
After the failure of remote learning, laser focus on core subjects and competencies is more important than ever. We don’t have time for “White Education Co-Conspirators.”
By Kieran M. Lalor, Esq.
Part 2 Coming Soon: Sneak Peek
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where I reveal how the WCSD responded to my law firm’s Freedom of Information Law request pertaining to communications and documents related to the process that led to the hiring of Schinella.
Sneak Peek: Here is a look at two of the documents the transparent WCSD provided on Friday December 2, 2022 in response to my FOIL request.