On Wednesday, New York City voted to adopt a policy of “culturally responsive-sustaining education,” at a school board meeting in Chinatown, The Wall Street Journal reports. Around 100 parents showed up to the meeting to both support and protests the initiative, many of them Chinese. The department provided Spanish translators but, at the start of the meeting, Mandarin and Cantonese translators were nowhere to be found.
The meeting was held to formally adopt Chancellor Richard Carranza’s formal definition of “culturally responsive” education. The definition is about one page long. It argues that the diverse perspective of students should be seen as essential assets.
Asian Americans members of the community also want to see their heritage and history reflected in the new curriculum. However, many members of the community, don’t think Carranza is the man for the job. They see Carranza, who has proposed policies that would potentially limit the number of Asian students at elite schools, as racist and anti-Asian. Many Asian American activists and parents who attended the meeting wore shirts calling for Carranza to be fired, according to Spectrum News NY 1.
Naturally, parents and activists were infuriated when they discovered that the board had not provided Mandarin and Cantonese at the meeting.
“They do not have an interpreter. And the chancellor happened to welcome people in Spanish in the heart of Chinatown where the majority of the attendees are Chinese. How ironic. How diversified that his view point is,” Linda Lam, a parent told Spectrum News NY 1.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the meeting was delayed two hours while the department scrambled to find a translator. A spokeswoman for the department says they are looking into the incident and will make sure it never happens again.
Carranza also apologized for the lack of translators and the delay.
“I want to ensure the public that we always want to have the right interpreters at our meeting. Let me be really clear — this is a school, there are students present, we will behave ourselves in an orderly manner,” Carranza said, according to Spectrum News NY 1.
Ultimately, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy, a group of mostly mayoral appointees, voted unanimously to embrace Carranza’s definition. Many Asian Americans are still skeptical of the “Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education” initiative.
“I think it’s just wrong. I think it’s misguided,” parent Yiatin Chu told CBS New York.
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