Sun Prairie Area School District logo (2018)

Sun Prairie School Board members, with one member absent, unanimously approved two resolutions and one proclamation during their May 10 meeting — celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a resolution opposing standardized testing as the sole measure of a student’s learning, and a resolution in support of transgender, non-binary and all LGBTQIA-plus students.

Of the three, it was the last resolution that drew opposition from the public.

During public comments, Sun Prairie resident Brenda Egli said she was against the resolution supporting transgender, non-binary and LGBTQIA+ students.

“A person should compete in sports based on the gender they are born with,” Egli wrote in public comments to the board, which were read after the resolutions were approved. “A male who identifies as female has an unfair advantage in sports vs. a female. Science shows us that males are more muscular, stronger and faster than females.

“This resolution would set women’s rights back to the 1900s!” Egli wrote. “[The Sun Prairie Area School District] is not considering every child if this passes. Girls (born female) who have dreamed to play high school sports are now going to lose their hard-earned places on JV and Varsity teams to males who identify as females? This is a disgrace to women,” Egli concluded, “and could prevent females (born female) from ever holding another record in women’s sports.”

The resolution notes the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) staff and board members “take seriously our responsibility to provide, safe, nondiscriminatory, and inclusive environments for people of all orientations and identities as they reflect our diverse community around us” including transgender, non binary and LGBTQIA+ students, staff and families through policies, practices and curriculum.

The resolution also recalls Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, and the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that discrimination on the basis of an individual’s status as gay or transgender constitutes sex discrimination within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Pointing to a Jan. 20, 2021 Executive Order by President Joe Biden, the resolution affirmed discrimination against transgender individuals “is discrimination on the basis of sex and that, ‘Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports”.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) affirm that denying a student the opportunity to participate on a sports team consistent with their gender identity is likely prohibited sex discrimination. The WIAA “supports transgender students participation in athletics based on their gender identity/expression, not the sex they were assigned at birth,” the resolution states.

“The Sun Prairie Area School District Board of Education affirms, supports, and values the gender identities and gender expressions of all our students and will continue to further efforts in our schools to create a welcoming, safe,and inclusive learning environment for our transgender, non-binary and all LGBTQIA+ students,” the resolution states, adding the support for all human rights.

The reason for the resolution was for the board to reject “any legislation or action that dehumanizes, marginalizes, or violates the rights of transgender, non-binary and all LGBTQIA+ students.”

The testing resolution states that the Sun Prairie School Board “firmly believes that standardized test scores should not be the ultimate goal of measuring student achievement because they fail to measure the primary goal of student learning which is to challenge students to think critically and deeply in multiple contexts and to transfer their knowledge and skills successfully into a variety of environments and opportunities.”

The testing resolution bemoans the U.S. test preparation and private tutoring industry “which grew to $12 billion dollars in 2014 and was projected to reach $17.5 billion dollars in 2020 is predominantly concentrated in Asian and White communities, who score the highest on standardized tests.”

The school board, according to the resolution, “is further concerned about how standardized testing is not aligned with the multiple efforts by this district regarding equity, anti-racist and culturally and linguistically inclusive and sensitive curriculum and related staff professional development.”

The board is also concerned, according to the resolution, regarding “other possible consequences of standardized testing, including: the loss of learning opportunities; the stress placed on our students; the triggering of behaviors that may interfere with learning; the interruption of schedules of our special education’s students and students in our [English Language Learner] programs; the time spent on professional development for testing that could be put to other purposes; and, the potential for implicit bias in the testing process that would disproportionately affect students of color.”

The resolution states board support for “locally developed, authentic assessments as drivers of instruction, to give more time for educators to teach and students to learn and encourages our staff to continue to develop systems that measure student learning without having to rely on standardized tests.”

The resolution also urged the Department of Public Instruction to “reexamine public school accountability systems in this state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of evidence that does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools.”

Finally, the testing resolution calls on Congress and the federal government “to reduce the federal testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality.”

The AAPI proclamation recalls the history of AAPI Heritage Month, first celebrated in the U.S. in 1978 and expanded to a month-long observance in 1992.

Honoring and recognizing the honor and recognizing the contributions and achievements of residents of Asia and the Pacific Islands, the month-long observance celebrates the historical presence of AAPIers in the U.S. dating back more than 200 years.

According to the proclamation, more than 10% of the student population of the SPASD is made up of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The resolution states, “our Asian American and Pacific Islander community members have been disproportionately impacted by incidences of hate and discrimination during the COVID 19 pandemic, and these experiences have disproportionately impacted our Asian American and Pacific Islander youth” and pledges the SPASD is committed to “keep safe, honor and love all of our children.”

The document proclaims May as AAPI Month in the SPASD and “encourages our staff and community members to observe, recognize, support and celebrate the culture, heritage, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our schools, communities, state, and country.”

Find the resolutions and the proclamation along with all public comment from the May 10 meeting with the online version of this story at sunprairiestar.com.

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