This evening, I would like to express special thanks to Deputy Superintendent, James Hiu and Executive Director of Student Services, Janelle Black. As you may recall, at our last meeting I requested copies of materials being taught to our staff by the Center for Educational Equity (CFEE). Mr. Hiu and Ms. Black graciously spent more than an hour with me going through the materials and provided me with my own copy of the manual used at the week-long Coaching for Educational Equity seminar.
I've now had a bit of time to review those materials and would encourage the rest of the board and members of the community to also examine these materials. What I've learned is disturbing at best and harmful to our students and staff at worst.
We were told months ago that equality is every student receiving a pair of shoes, but equity is every student receiving a pair of shoes that fit. I like that definition and love the focus on the individuality and unique needs of each student. Sadly, what is being taught to those who teach our students by the Center for Educational Equity is all about groups, not individuals and that equity is not about ensuring that every student receives individually tailored, equal opportunity, but that every student group, as defined by skin color, emerges with equal outcomes.
With that in mind, CFEE encourages our teachers to frame issues in terms of race, class and gender...focusing on that which divides us from each other. They are told to focus on systemic privilege and oppression as opposed to the ability and character of individual students. They are being told that it is racist to tell a 'student of color' that if they work hard they can succeed in life.
CFEE informs them that it is a 'racial microagression' for so many of our buildings to be named after white people or for us to have pictures of white U.S. Presidents on our walls. Who knew that Gordon Russell, Dexter McCarty and Sam Barlow represent systemic racial oppression right here in the Gresham-Barlow School District? Heck, even the name of our district is racist because Walter Q. Gresham and Sam Barlow were white and, worse, men.
Interestingly, page 13 of the CFEE manual warns against stereotyping (generalizing in an oversimplified way about an identifiable group), yet page 31 declares as an oversimplified generalization that all white people...ALL white people... are racist and are part of a white supremacist culture. One participant declared that the seminar, '...brought me to where I can recognize that I am a white male racist...'. Another stated, 'I can now say I am a white woman and therefore racist...I can admit more openly to my colleagues of color that I am a racist...
CFEE declares that it is oppressive expression of white privilege and white culture to encourage among our students, independence, personal choice, self-expression, thinking for yourself, working hard and achieving much. And God forbid we should ever encourage students to grow up and buy a home, because private property and individual ownership are hallmarks of the white supremacist culture.
After a week of such baseless, non research-based speculations, its little wonder participants emerge feeling like the enlightened ones who now know how to squint just right to see the 3D picture of pernicious racism that eludes the rest of us.
When we see the world as consisting of victims, villains and heroes, those who can't lay legitimate claim to being a victim, with all the moral superiority and societal attention that goes with that status, will seek to be heroes...knights in bright armor riding to the rescue. Victims need villains to maintain their status and heroes need victims and villains to maintain their status. And when real villains can't be found, imaginary ones must be created. CFEE has done a good job of creating a perpetual villain in all white people while also giving them opportunity to become self flagellating heroes coming to the aid of people of color who couldn't possibly succeed on their own.
I have no doubt that everyone in this room desires the very best for our students. Sadly, this is the very worst we can offer them.
If the CFEE concepts are allowed to take hold, our schools will become places where students of color are taught that their very best efforts will never be good enough because white people are just too oppressive and white students are taught that their best efforts will only yield undeserved privilege and that anything they earn or achieve is illegitimate because of their skin color.
In light of budget news coming out of Salem this week, I once again ask this board and the administration to dissolve the Superintendents equity advisory and to focus our resources on the essentials of our mission, to prepare every student, irrespective of their skin color, for success in life, and to stop funding racist, segregationist groups like the Center for Educational Equity.