Case Study On How Teachers Learn Critical Race Theory and Teach It To Their Students: Tredyffrin-Easttown in Suburban Philadelphia
Who Teaches the Teachers? TE paid consultant Pacific Educational Group at least $400k to teach CRT to school teachers, administrators.
As the Wall Street Journal has reported, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District (TESD) in suburban Philadelphia hired a consultant in 2018 to teach its teachers and administrators Critical Race Theory (CRT). Since then, the TE School Board (TESB) has denied teaching CRT to students, stonewalled parents’ requests to see the consultant’s materials, and ignored parents’ concerns about CRT. The reality is, CRT has been seeping into TE school lessons.
a. TE School Board less than frank about CRT in schools
At a June 13, 2022 TE School Board meeting, a parent asked the board whether his special needs child would be taught about his “white privilege” when the child gets to high school. Earlier in the evening, Superintendent Richard Gusick had glibly insisted, “We do not teach critical race theory in our classrooms.” Yet, now, he delivered a carefully worded response:
Currently, that’s [i.e., teaching white privilege is] not part – a direct part of our curriculum, to teach about that concept. I’m not sure how that would evolve as we go forward, but it’s a question that could be posed to students or a discussion that could be had, but it’s not a specific item enumerated in our curriculum at this time.
When parsed, Gusick’s comments boil down to this:
- Teaching white privilege isn’t now formally part of the curriculum, but
- Gusick isn’t ruling out that it may become part of the curriculum in the next few years.
- The fact that teaching white privilege isn’t specifically in the current curriculum doesn’t preclude the subject from coming up in school. Questions could be asked (by whom, Gusick didn’t say) or discussions could be had (involving whom? again, Gusick didn’t specify) about CRT.
That’s quite different from Gusick’s earlier flat denial that CRT was being taught in the district’s schools.
b. Despite the School Board’s denials, CRT is being taught in TE schools
Tredyffrin Township resident Rosanna Haag confirmed that CRT concepts have been taught at TE’s Valley Forge Middle School. During a June 14, 2021 TESB meeting, she related that her 12-year-old daughter came home from school one day asking, “What is white privilege and why do I have it?” Her teachers were trying to make her feel guilty about it.
A source at TE’s Conestoga High School (rated fourth best in Pennsylvania) related that at least some CRT concepts and lingo have filtered into teaching there. (Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I attended Conestoga High School.) Terms including white privilege, anti-racism, and equity (as opposed to equality) have all been used in lessons, although students haven’t been taught the full ideology behind them.
At least some high school students were shown a video about redlining, the practice of refusing to write loans for people living in predominantly black or other non-white neighborhoods. The practice was legally banned in 1968. The video, which features an appearance by 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones, mixes factual history with tendentious ideology. For instance, it blames redlining for black students’ currently being in “massively underfunded” schools. The implication is that past legalized discrimination directly caused less money to be spent on black students in the present, which directly caused black kids to attend bad schools and have poor learning outcomes.
According to the Census Bureau, TE schools spent $17,016 per pupil in 2019. That same year, according to the Census Bureau, Atlanta spent $17,112, Washington, DC, spent $22,406–$22,562, and New York City spent $28,004 per pupil. Chicago spent $15,591 per pupil – less than TE, but not hugely so. All of these cities have large black populations. The formulation that blacks attend underfunded schools – let alone that this was solely caused by past discrimination – is not true for many black students. The video’s implication that funding – and only funding – directly correlates to learning outcomes, is also fallacious, or at best unproven.
Conestoga’s website boasts about the school’s commitment to “social justice” and “social justice teaching standards,” and about its intolerance of intolerance, racism, discrimination, and injustice.
c. TE School Board’s involvement with PEG
TESB approved its contract with Pacific Educational Group, Inc. (PEG), on April 23, 2018, and “began its work with PEG in the spring and summer of 2018 with professional development training for administrators and teachers” (emphasis added). Under the contract, PEG was to provide TESD with “professional development, coaching, and consulting services… for the purpose of developing and accelerating the District’s capacity to engage in systemic equity transformation and eliminate racial educational disparities in Tredyffrin/Easttown schools.” Since then, TESD has reportedly paid PEG at least $400,000 to teach CRT to school administrators and teachers.
Equity Guiding Principles
We believe… all people are worthy of human dignity and respect. Every person’s authentic identity should be valued. Together, through listening, collaboration, and understanding, we can identify and eliminate barriers to racial equity. Thus, it is the role and responsibility of the entire Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, at every level, to dismantle and abolish any structure or system that unjustly discriminates against fellow members of our community.
Therefore we commit to…
Recruit, hire, and support the development of a racially and culturally diverse faculty, administration, and staff
Practice inclusive, culturally responsive, and anti-racist curriculum and instruction at all grade levels
Develop and sustain anti-racist leadership among students, faculty, staff, administrators, and parents
Ensure disciplinary measures taken at all levels reflect racial equity and nondiscrimination
Eliminate systemic barriers that result in racial disparities in standardized testing, academic outcomes, and co-curricular participation at all levels
Systematically review and revise District policies and regulations that have a negative and disproportionate impact on students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members of color
Improve communication and foster community involvement related to District racial equity initiatives
Engage stakeholders in racial equity work by establishing and sustaining authentic relationships and creating inclusive opportunities to share multiple perspectives
To someone unfamiliar with critical race theory, this language could pass as expressing an ideologically neutral commitment to treating people equally. Even terms of art like “anti-racist” and “racial equity” might not strike a chord with the uninitiated, who don’t understand how different “anti-racism” is from equal protection (i.e., from treating all people equally); or how antithetical “equity” is to “equality”. For a public school to commit to hiring “racially… diverse faculty, administration, and staff” also raises serious concerns under the Equal Protection Clause.
During a June 14, 2021 TE School Board meeting, several people expressed generalized support for opposing discrimination, but many of them appeared to have no real understanding that discrimination (not anti-discrimination) is exactly what PEG peddles.
The school board has been very reluctant to give TE residents access to the PEG teaching materials. Eventually, it let Benjamin Auslander (father of a TE student) review them in person, but refused to make copies or to let him make notes, claiming that violated PEG’s copyright. Auslander sued, and the district gave in.
(We reached out to both TESB and Auslander. TESB did not respond at all. Auslander’s attorney indicated that America First Legal Foundation, a non-profit assisting Auslander, would get back to us, but it has not done so.)
At least some of the documents are now available online. They clearly propagate critical race theory, which is identified by name. Judging from the documents, participants in PEG training sessions are exhorted to put CRT into practice. For example, some documents are captioned “Using Critical Race Theory to Transform Leadership and District,” or addressed to “Anti-Racist” School Leaders, Teacher Leaders, School and Family/Community Leaders. They include exercises teaching:
- “The Permanence of Racism”: “The concept that racism is a permanent component of life in the U.S. Racism is endemic to all our institutions, systems and structures. Racism… is everywhere.”
- “Whiteness As Property,” “Examining Presence and Role [of] Whiteness,” and “What Does It Mean To Be White?” The latter is identified with concepts such as:
- Rugged Individualism
- Holidays: based on Christian religions
- Protestant Work Ethic
- Emphasis on Scientific Method
- Time – Future Orientation
- Religion: Judeo-Christian religion as norm
- A “Speak Your Truth” document offers the following advice:
- “… getting to know myself as a racial being”
- “… raise racial consciousness”
- “I recognize that race is a social construct and know there are multiple racial perspectives.”
- “I identify the nuances that distinguish race from other ethnic/cultural characteristics…”
- “I deconstruct the Presence and Role of Whiteness in my life”
- “Critique of Liberalism”: Liberalism is associated with “1. colorblindness,” “4. equality v. equity,” “5. the myth of meritocracy”
As illustrated in the documents, CRT is a religion in all but name. It preaches a caste system in which a person’s virtue and entitlement are determined by race. There is no redemption or salvation available for those in disfavored castes (read, anyone identified as “white”). The best they can hope for is to abase themselves, continually confessing their sinful unworthiness and canceling themselves in favor of members of more favored castes, based on ethnicity and skin color – the darker, the better.
The documents put down the philosophical underpinnings of the American republic. Besides their presumption that racism is permanent and society isn’t and can’t be colorblind, they label meritocracy a myth. The ideal of equality, i.e., of treating people equally, is rejected in favor of equity; this is a rebranding of the Communist ideal, ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.’
The board has received pushback from parents and other community members. For example, during the aforementioned June 14, 2021 board meeting, a number of attendees (roughly half of the speakers from the audience) spoke out against continuing the PEG contract or teaching CRT. Notably, three immigrants from Communist China shared their view that CRT is an American iteration of the Cultural Revolution. Justin Shi, who was a teenager during the Cultural Revolution, explained that Critical Race Theory had a sequel, Critical Birth Theory.
In my school, all people were classified into seven categories. There were the people who owned the land, people who owned businesses, anti-revolutionaries (i.e., people who worked for the prior regime), rightists (conservative intellectuals), anti-revolutionaries (i.e., dissidents of the gov’t), working-class people, and Communists. [It’s a] caste system – status passed down to children. Only children of Communists have privilege to go to college and get good job offers. Other people fought for scraps, it was a blood sport. Some of my fellow-students got killed… Start with social equity, peasants’ lives matters, soldiers’ lives matters, workers’ lives matters. End with burning, looting, people dying in streets.
Criticism of the school board was even sharper at a meeting the following year (June 13, 2022). Several attendees complained about the board’s lack of transparency and its decision to contract with a consultant that tried to prevent parents from seeing what their children were being taught.
As has been the case in so many other school districts across the country, the TE School Board has blithely ignored parental opposition, and continued its unanimous support for working with PEG while stonewalling parents and other residents. At the June 2022 TESB meeting, Superintendent Gusick implied that the school district was developing a curriculum that would incorporate CRT, even if CRT isn’t now a formal part of the curriculum.DONATE
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