A document packed with white privilege and social justice training for the classroom created by the Wake County Public School System’s Office of Equity Affairs seeks to serve as a “call to action” for all district “educators and stakeholders.”
The document created by the Wake County Public School System’s Office of Equity Affairs (WCPSS OEA) is titled “Equity in Action, Moving Beyond the Conversation.” It is a more formal rollout of the OEA’s “Equity Framework” which I reported on earlier this year.
The theme of the “Equity Framework” is training teachers to ‘leverage student voices” and to have an “action-oriented mindset.” This includes lessons that “interrupt” and “expose” inequity in the classroom by violating the privacy rights of students as parents of WCPSS’ Heritage High found out first hand.
Those parents and students at Heritage High had a front-row seat on how this framework can usurp academic instruction in the classroom and replaces it with social and racial justice narratives. Perhaps ironically, OEA has planned an “EdCamp Equity” event at Heritage High for February 22 of next year.
Parents, Are You Ready For The Revolution?
The “Equity in Action” document opens with a quote:
The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.” – Paulo Freire
According to Wikipedia, Freire is a socialist who “contributed a philosophy of education which blended classical approaches stemming from Plato and modern Marxist, post-Marxist and anti-colonialist thinkers.”
Friere’s most famous piece of work is the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which an article at SocialistWorker.org notes is “a set of principles and best practices for individual teachers–guidelines for a “revolution in one classroom.”
A Call to Action and Resource Guide
The “Equity in Action” document says it is to be used as a “call to action” and “resource guide” and has two sections, the first one is “foundational beliefs about equity,” which lays out what the OEA says are “principles, competencies, and theories for effective equity leadership.”
The second part includes professional development training sessions which are all sponsored by OEA. There are a number of training items in this second part, but the very first entry is “Social Justice Standards,” which are created by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance.
The second training listed is “Courageous Conversations,” which is a Glenn Singleton offering that centers on “white privilege.” Beyond that are more “racial equity” training and also a set of LGBT “safe zone” training.
“Across the United States and in the Wake County Public School System, student achievement outcomes can be predicted by special education status, family income, and race,” writes the OEA about the “Principles of Equity” for WCPSS. “The predictability of achievement represents the most consistent and persistent challenge in education today.”
According to the OEA, the “principles of equity” are actually actions:
- WCPSS staff will work to socialize intelligence and effort among all students in every school, every classroom, every day.
- WCPSS staff will be intentional about interrupting beliefs and practices that serve as systemic barriers to student achievement.
- WCPSS staff will model and advance courageous conversations about special education status, family income, and race, and how these attributes shape teaching and learning experiences in schools, classrooms, and community
According to the document, the OEA defines equity as “Eliminating the predictability of success and failure that correlates with any social or cultural factor.”
While that sounds almost admirable, but equity of opportunity and equity of outcome are two different things. Equity activism is essentially socialist in nature; it is their belief that they can mandate equal outcomes for all people, yet that activism ignores basic human nature and reality. All people are not equal in who they are, where they come from or in their inherent traits.
OEA’s definition of equity also says “Educators work toward equity by interrupting inequitable practices, challenging biases, and creating inclusive school environments for all.”
It’s worth noting that the document never defines or lists what “inequitable practices” are.
The challenging of ‘biases’ and ‘interruption of practices’ means ending things that set students apart or that recognizes achievement. This can be anything from creating or using a set of race-specific social justice standards to removing valedictorian status, which WCPSS has already done.
According to the OEA, educators have to be trained in the “WCPSS Equity Competencies” in order to advance “equity work in schools, classrooms, and departments.” The document says there are six of these “competencies”, but they list only five:
- Courageous Conversations: Strategies for engaging in meaningful conversations about inequity in education.
- Color Consciousness: Awareness and knowledge of how race and racism operate in our society and our educational systems.
- Identity Development: The process by which people come to understand their identity and how it impacts their personal experiences and role in society, particularly as it applies to their ability to succeed in society.
- Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Theories and strategies for engaging students through their cultural background.
- Examining Power & Privilege: Using a philosophical and practical lens to explore how the dominant culture impacts the experiences of all people
These competencies are broken out into “essential learnings” which can also be described as identity politics for K-12.
“Equity in Action” & Consequences
The path of the OEA is perhaps well-intentioned, but the way they are proceeding is not.
Consider the concepts of Equity and Equality.
Equity: giving people what they need to succeed. Equity almost always involves removing or tearing down the advantages and abilities of others in order to create an equal outcome.
Equality: treating everyone the same. Equality gives everyone the same opportunities to advance on their own.
The first is a concept that is a tenet of modern social justice movement and has roots in socialism while the second is the basis of a free society. I often see variations of the following image associated with explaining Equality and Equity:
Yet what would be both equal and equitable is to remove the fence entirely. With the fence or barrier gone, there would be no need to take someone else’s box, but instead, all three children could then sit on their own box together.
The OEA is not interested in removing the fence and bringing everyone together. They are interested in dividing students and teachers by race and socioeconomic background and taking the box. In their own words, the OEA means “interrupting inequities wherever they exist.”
A dictionary definition of equity is justice according to natural law or right, specifically: freedom from bias or favoritism. OEA’s definition of equity includes race as the root cause of success and failure and is steeped in the idea that by tearing down one thing, another is lifted up.
If one follows OEA’s definition to its logical conclusion, equity means that those children deemed to be less advantaged would be given every educational resource and training available while the advantaged or ‘privileged’ kids would be given little to nothing.
This is the basic foundation of many of the OEA’s training offerings. There will be consequences.