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Farmington Schools families debate voluntary diversity, equity & inclusion program

Posted at 7:12 AM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 07:12:43-05

FARMINGTON, MI (WXYZ) — Dozens of parents and community members in Farmington are protesting a district-wide initiative aimed at promoting diversity and racial understanding.

The “21-Day Equity Challenge” is voluntary, and not part of the curriculum according to the district.

Those in support say it’s helping students navigate important issues. Those against claim it’s creating division.

It was the center of a large debate during Tuesday's school board meeting.

The district says the program will keep moving forward for now. Though the description of it is gone from the district’s website.

Response during Tuesday night’s meeting was so large, it was moved to the auditorium at North Farmington High School where parents weren’t shy about how they felt.

“We moved here for the diversity. I want that to continue," one Farmington parent said. "I think the purpose of the challenge was equality and I think it did the opposite.”

The 21-Day Equity Challenge, described by Farmington Public School District Leaders as an optional exercise with daily posts and weekly zoom meetings, is now the subject of a heated district-wide debate.

Local Republican leaders organized a protest outside of the school board meeting.

"What we have a problem with is replacing equality with equity. An equity, that puts America last," Local GOP Organizer Rocky Raczkowski said.

"This 21-Day Challenge isn't educating people, it's selling them their own oppression," a participant inside the school board meeting added.

A detailed description of the challenge is no longer visible on the district’s website, though this local controversy follows a state and nationwide conversation about how to approach issues of race in the classroom.

"It never was intended to stand alone because absent the context and the dialogue, individual pieces could be misinterpreted or misrepresented," Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Chris Delgado said.

Other parents spoke out in support of the program.

"There are these extreme lies that have been told that are saying we're trying to raise their children, in particular white children, to believe they're racists and oppressors and that's an absolute lie. That is not what is taught,” one parent said.

A Change.org petition seeking to keep the program going has more than 700 signatures. It claims that school board trustees are “being targeted by anti-equity agitators outside of our school community.”

For now — the district says the program remains.