EVANSVILLE — The Courier & Press has asked nominees for the board of Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. to share their answers to questions about education and public schools.

Four seats are open to the seven-member school board in the Nov. 8 general election. They include one District 1 seat, two District 2 seats, and one At-Large seat.

As there are 14 candidates vying to fill these positions, candidates have been asked to respond briefly. Responses will appear in separate articles for District 1, 2 and At-Large applicants, unless they have not responded or have chosen not to respond briefly and in Q&A format.

The first questions cover topics raised in education forums and on social media since the last school board election in 2020, and include topics of diversity and inclusion, mask mandates, and curriculum issues such that critical race theory.

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In communities across the country, including Indiana, parents and community members have expressed concerns about how school curricula address these topics, particularly critical race theory, or CRT.

CRT is an academic theory that racism is not just individual prejudice, but is embedded in institutions and public policies, promoting racial inequality in education and society.

Like other topics, the CRT has become a political argument in 2021, especially in K-12 education. Here is what EVSC spokesperson Jason Woebkenberg has to say about the CRT:

“Critical Race Theory is a concept taught at the top level of universities. Our teachers cover content aligned with Indiana Academic Standards. CRT is not one of these standards; therefore, our teachers do not teach this concept. The controversy involving CRT originated on the West Coast and has now led to continued rumors and lies in the Midwest.”

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Andrew Guarino, David Hollingsworth, Casey Hillenbrand, Mike Duckworth, Julie Lutz Fox and Jon Abbey are running for the two open seats in District 2.

Here are the answers of the candidates who answered the questions.

What role do you think the school board should play in determining curriculum?

Andrew Guarino (incumbent): “The Indiana Department of Education provides us with guidance for program offerings that coincide with state required standards. EVSC has a committee of teachers and administrators who select the program and then submit their choices to the board for approval. School boards generally approve curriculum that aligns with state standards.”

David Hollingworth: “I believe all programs should be reviewed and approved by the school board.”

Casey Hillenbrand: “I agree with our core role as outlined in our Program Development Policy (EVSC Bylaws & Policies, 2210). Nothing prevents me from driving positive change in our programs, however, through to collaboration, to research and to ensuring that constructive ideas are both heard and We need to challenge and challenge ourselves Evolution is inevitable, but improvement requires innovation.

Julie Lutz Fox: “I believe that the council should play a crucial role, however, it should only do so taking into account the information received from parents, pupils and the public.”

Mike Duckworth: “The school board receives a list of accepted books or texts that are put together by a committee of teachers, administrators, and parents. Materials are selected from a list that was compiled by the DOE of the school board. State of Indiana. After a review is completed, the board hears a presentation in public form from the Assistant Superintendent of Academics and after discussion, the curriculum is adopted by the board. Members of the school board may challenge any material that they deem unworthy or inappropriate for use.

Do you believe critical race theory should be included in the public school curriculum?

Guarino: “CRT is not part of our Indiana standards and was not taught at EVSC because it is not appropriate material for K-12 students. We focus more on critical thinking skills to meet individual needs.”

Hollingworth: “CRT has no place at EVSC.”

Hillenbrand: “No, and from what I understand it wasn’t meant to be. A theory is a way of looking at something with the aim of understanding it, and often evolves or changes over time. as new information is acquired. Theories can take years to substantially validate or disprove because they need to be studied. Classical Critical Race Theory is a course in university law schools that uses this theory to explore the relationship between race and law. There are few students under the age of 18 with the intellectual maturity to explore this topic.

Lutz’s fox: “No, it is a factually flawed theory because it marginalizes successful minorities and creates division among all.”

Duckworth: “I believe that students should be taught the history of civil rights and racism. Teaching our children how to respect one another, regardless of race, religion or other beliefs is not only the responsibility from our schools, but from our families, churches, and community Critical race theory may be more appropriate at the university level.

How do you think the subject of race and/or racism should be taught in school?

Guarino: “Because we have so many students from diverse backgrounds, our teachers and staff strive every day to be caring and compassionate to ensure that each child feels included, loved and supported in their individual goals and ambitions.”

Hollingworth: “Students should learn to treat everyone fairly.”

Hillenbrand: “The programming structure and content of the program must be created without discrimination. All subjects covered and necessary to achieve the objectives of the course must be taught in an accurate and complete manner and in a manner appropriate to the age of the student .”

Lutz’s fox: “With factual history and through literature written concurrently with history as it happened.”

Duckworth: “I believe that any act of prejudice, race or racism, including bullying, or any type of violence should not be tolerated. Parents send their students to school and expect them to be protected while they are in our care. I would support the use of community speakers and the teaching of tolerance and grace towards those who hold different opinions should be regularly promoted.”

How should public schools address issues of diversity in the student population such as gender and sexual orientation?

Guarino: “EVSC is a public school and as such, every student who walks through our doors will be treated with respect and dignity, so that they succeed in their academic endeavors. We want all children to be safe, happy and prepared on the academically, with the career-readiness skills to succeed in any path they choose.”

Hollingworth: “Every student should be treated equally and fairly and in accordance with the law.”

Hillenbrand: “Diversity is not a problem, diversity is life. Problems arise from individual responses to specific situations such as conflicts related to a lack of acceptance that our world is a diverse place. These situations are each different and should be given individual attention and discussion in accordance with our policies. Schools should always be on the lookout for situations and trends that may indicate a need for board involvement or discussion. In all things there must be understanding and balance between the needs and comfort of all our students.

Lutz’s fox: “According to the Indiana Department of Education website, in 2022 less than one-third of students met minimum standards in math and English. Schools need to focus on education rather than learning. indoctrination. Sensitive issues such as those of a sexual nature should be left to the parents. Elementary school students are certainly not in a position to adequately deal with issues of a sexual nature, and anything along these lines is purely for the indoctrination.

Duckworth: “Teaching manners and kindness is needed more than ever. Educating students about how people are different and not infringing on your personal beliefs about others is vital. Our world and its people are changing, preparing our students for the world in which they will live is of the utmost importance.”

Should public schools mandate mask-wearing during public health crises?

Guarino: “If the CDC, State Health Department, and Vanderburgh Health Department mandate masks again in another health crisis, we will follow their guidance and advice. Of the 17 largest state school districts of the Midwest, EVSC was the first to learn in person during the pandemic.”

Hollingworth: “EVSC schools should follow Vanderburgh County Health Department and CDC guidelines.”

Hillenbrand: “Public schools should heed the evidence-based advice provided by our public health experts and follow all local, state or federal laws during any type of public health crisis, even those that do not involve communicable diseases. “

Lutz’s fox: “No. The masks had no value and were insufficient to prevent transmission.”

Duckworth: “Again, this is very different than ever before. Schools must follow federal and state mandates set out by the CDC and state medical health organizations. Every crisis must be addressed by understanding the facts and communicating with all parties involved for the safety and protection of all our children and staff. Working with local health service officials is also very important in developing the approach to tackling these issues.”