HOOPS FOR HARMONY
ALLOW YOUTH TO HAVE OPEN, HONEST DIALOGUE AROUND RACE AND DIVERSITY
THE ISSUE in a nutshell...
The Chambersburg Area School District Athletic Department was hosting a "Hoops for Harmony" tournament that coincided with MLK Day. The basketball tournament would be followed by workshops fostering conversations about racial tolerance and diversity for students. CASD school board abruptly shut down the workshops last minute. What was meant to be an event to embrace diversity and seek harmony turned into an attack about critical race theory.
CALL TO ACTION
Attend the CASD Board Meeting on February 22 at 7pm at 435 Stanley Ave, Chambersburg. Ron Coursey will present to the board. Please speak up in support of Hoops for Harmony and the hope for future similar opportunities for students. (Viewing of the board meeting is also available on YouTube.)
OVERVIEW & BACKGROUND
Hoops for Harmony, created by CASD Athletic Director Ron Coursey, is a state-wide basketball tournament bringing together high school students of different races and ethnicities to teach people of diverse backgrounds to appreciate and respect one another.
The 2022 Hoops for Harmony was scheduled for the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In the Fall of 2021, Ron asked Marvin Worthy to lead several workshops during the event, and to recruit a few other workshop leaders. As they planned the event, Marvin stated his workshops would use basketball to teach about the game of life and facilitate conversation around how sports have transcended race, as well as how athletes have demonstrated the ability to build lasting relationships based on a shared passion (basketball) and common goal (winning) with teammates regardless of the color of their skin.
They would ask the athletes the following questions:
How have you benefited from having relationships with teammates of a different race?
What did you learn about them and what did you learn about yourself?
How have you benefited from these relationships?
Is there value in building relationships with people from a different race, and if so, why?
Sometime around Jan. 12th, the local radio station 103.7 conducted a radio and print campaign attacking Marvin’s role in Hoops for Harmony, characterizing Racial Reconciliation of Franklni County as a “leftist, progressive” group and insinuating that Marvin would indoctrinate the players accordingly. Marvin was unaware of these accusations, nor was he contacted for comment.
From Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 12-14, Ron and Marvin tried unsuccessfully to connect and confirm Marvin’s participation. On Friday Jan. 14th, Marvin was contacted by a school board member asking if the workshops were canceled. Marvin tried contacting Ron to learn what was going on, but was not successful. Based on the school board member’s contact, Marvin assumed his workshops were canceled. No one from CASD bothered to contact him.
On Sunday morning, Jan. 16, Marvin received a text quoting CASD board member Faye Gaugler that was shared on Facebook that parroted the accusations made by 103.7 and read; “Mandatory indoctrination by Marvin Worthy was not a wise decision. He obviously doesn’t realize Chambersburg isn’t Pittsburgh or Baltimore. I really like what I’ve seen and heard about Ron but he made an unwise choice in this case and someone missed the oversight of this during the planning.”
Later that day Marvin and Ron spoke on the phone and Ron explained that they canceled the workshops because he did not provide an outline/curriculum for the workshops. The next day a school board member confirmed this reasoning. However, at no time was an outline/curriculum requested from Marvin.
On Thursday, Jan. 20th Marvin spoke with CASD superintendent Dion Betts about these events. Dr. Betts informed Marvin that Ron should have, but failed, to approve Marvin’s outline/curriculum. Marvin, who had heard multiple reports that Ron was being harassed and threatened for organizing Hoops for Harmony, asked Dr. Betts for a public statement of support for Ron. Dr. Betts declined, saying he would communicate with the CASD school board.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Racial Reconciliation of Franklin County has the following concerns:
CASD canceled the workshops after the inflammatory and inaccurate media campaign by 103.7
The decision to cancel the workshops was made in a non-transparent manner, using the lack of the unrequested outline/curriculum as a excuse
No one from the school district attempted to contact Marvin about the content of his workshops
The CASD administration failed to publicly support Ron Coursey who is one of a very few professionals of color in the district
Finally and most importantly, the young people participating in the tournament who would have benefitted from the workshops.
PennLive article about the incident: "A high school basketball tournament spirals into a debate about critical race theory."
What exactly is CRT and how have U.S. schools become a battleground around the topic since 2021? Read this New York Times article "What is Critical Race Theory: A Brief History."
Why is the canceling of discussions around race and diversity an issue? Check out this article about "The Importance of Diversity and Cultural Awareness in the Clasroom."