Jane Elliot visited East during seminar and at 7 p.m. on Thursday to discuss diversity. The seminar session was solely for students, while the 7 p.m. presentation was aimed towards the rest of the Northeast Johnson County community. Elliot is a nationally-known speaker who is famous for her “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment that “exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is,” according to her website.
Elliot was brought in by various sponsors, including the SME Diversity and Inclusion Committee as well as Principal John McKinney to discuss her experiment with the East community.
She was called on to speak to students about kindness, respect and the value of knowing someone beyond stereotypical external reasons, according to McKinney.
“I am absolutely in favor of having someone come into the school setting to talk about racism,” East parent Laura Goettsch said.
In addition to discussing diversity, Elliot spoke about her own political opinions. McKinney later emailed East parents apologizing for any distress the presentations caused.
“As a district, we do not insert political ideology or personal agendas into anything we present to our students, and we were unaware Ms. Elliot’s presentation would take this direction,” the email stated.
Whether positive or negative, McKinney acknowledges the conversations that were sparked.
“She has people talking,” Mckinney said. “Anytime you can get students talking in a respectful, courteous way, that’s a good thing.”