In Defense of Dr. Fatima Morell

Dear Editor:

The Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization supports Dr. Fatima Morrell, Associate Superintendent, Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives,  for leading courageous conversations about race, inequity, and justice in our schools.            

On February 24, 2021, Fox News ran a disingenuous article based on a report by conservative activist Chris Rufo on the Buffalo Public Schools’ culturally responsive and Emancipation curriculum initiatives. Chris Rufo and FOX News’ Tucker Carlson apparently finds fault with the hard history of America and Buffalo Public Schools’ stance on cultural responsiveness. Mr. Rufo based his article on an anonymous whistleblower and attempted to discredit and shame the Buffalo Public schools and Dr. Morrell specifically. In fact, encouraging students to become activists for anti-racism and teaching children to recognize how our diversity is our strength, is exactly what we hope is occurring in our schools. We understand that FOX news and other alternative news organizations will continue to promote hate and BPTO stands firmly opposed to it.

We find this type of journalism to be vile and despicable and believe it has no place in our educational discourse. Dr. Morrell and her team have taken on a difficult task as they oversee the critical reading of texts and the infusion of culturally responsive vocabulary, theory, and practice. This ongoing curriculum initiative is not political, but it is an acknowledgement of inequities in our systems and historical practices. Parents, teachers, and community members understand that in order to create an equitable society and a better Buffalo, systemic racism must be confronted in our schools. We are proud to continue our unwavering support of the Buffalo Public Schools, the Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives, and Dr. Morrell and her team of critical educators on this curricular initiative. We are encouraged by the continued growth of this curriculum, and its expansion to incorporate even more local connections, such as Drea D’Nur’s documentary film on Nina Simone in Buffalo (The Spirit of Nina). This is liberatory, emancipatory work, and we applaud the vision and courage it takes to initiate it.

-The Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization Executive Board