At its July 2021 meeting, the Board of Education approved an $80,000 contract with the Center for Racial Justice in Education, which claims: Martin Luther King-type color-blind racial justice is “white supremacy”; only white people can be racist; Asian-Americans benefit from “white privilege”; and other extreme and divisive views about race and ethnic identity.
The CRJE is a New York City-based progressive advocacy group whose mission is to “train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice” it believes have “deep roots in our institutions, in our families, and in our communities.”
The CJRE’s guiding ideology is that racism is like the air we breathe – it is everywhere and in everything: “There is no place of learning—no child, no educator—that is immune to its effects.”
The sprawling AUHSD, with an enrollment of 31,000 students in grades 7-12, hired the CRJE to implement its comprehensive “Racial Justice in Organizations” (RIJO) program, initially at two high schools, Katella and Cypress.
Under the agreement, the CRJE would conduct a “racial equity audit,” conduct multi-day “Talking About Race” teacher training and set up permanent “Racial Equity Leadership Committees” to engage in “dismantling racism” on those campuses on an ongoing basis.
Training Teachers to Be Woke
The agreement calls for the CRJE to conduct a “racial equity audit” of Katella and Cypress high schools. “Equity” has rapidly become a catchphrase of the social justice groups. While it evokes the idea of equality, a fundamental principle of American representative democracy, it actually means forcing exactly equal outcomes. The NYC-based group also will establish permanent “Racial Equity Leadership Councils” at both school sites, charged with ferreting out alleged racism and “promoting anti-racism” within the “larger school/organizational community.”
At the same time, teachers will be enrolled in “Talking About Race” workshops, in which they’ll be segregated into “racial affinity groups” and taught such CRT precepts as the dictum that racism is power-plus-prejudice. According to this view, people of color cannot be racist because they lack power.
The workshops train teachers and staff that crediting one’s accomplishments to hard work, the desire to be treated as an individual without regard to skin color and valuing experts and data are all examples of “Internalized White Superiority.”
“Anti-racism” is emblematic of the woke Left’s talent for language manipulation. On its face, it sounds as simple as being opposed to racism. But according to its proponents, not being a racist is no better than being a racist. Anti-racism is an “either with us or against us” worldview, demanding a total commitment to its prescriptions for “dismantling” racism. Indeed, anti-racism – as explicated by acolytes such as Ibram X. Kendi – explicitly rejects the ideal of a color-blind society as white supremacy in disguise, and endorses government discrimination on the basis of race to advance desired “equity” outcomes.
These are ideas rejected by the vast majority of Americans.
Report: “They Shove Stuff Down Your Throat”
Last year, the CRJE commissioned a study
The study’s authors did not question the workshop’s goal to “create anti-racist schools and classrooms” by helping teachers “understand how systemic racism is rooted in the ideology of white supremacy” and that concepts such as reverse racism are false.
The authors approvingly reported indoctrination successes, citing instances of teachers whose “explanations of racism clearly drew upon the definition provided by CRJE during training”:
For example, a teacher from Spring Gardens explained, “Minorities, by definition, can’t be racist. There has to be a power component to it.” This understanding of racism reflects the definition shared by CRJE in the TAR training, which explicitly describes racism as the combination of racial prejudice and power. Teachers and administrators also discussed the ubiquity of White supremacy culture, the harmful impacts of colorblindness, and the need for curriculum to reflect student identities.
However, even they questioned the zeal of the CRJE trainers, quoting one teacher participant:
“It’s basically like, they shove stuff down your throat. That training, while it does provide a lot of good information, it doesn’t really allow for a lot of discussion or pushback or – they’re very centered on their mission, and they want to drive it home. Instead of listening to someone and then kind of explaining it to them, hearing them out and talking, engaging in dialogue with them, they’re very like ‘Race is uncomfortable. Deal with it.’ and just plow through.”
Unsurprisingly, a number of teachers rejected or were resistant to such CRJE dogmas as “only white people can be racist.” It’s also not surprising that many white teachers resented being labeled as enablers of “systemic racism.”
The report states “some” teachers – whom they labeled “White resisters” – “struggled” with CRJE’s claim that “only White people can be racist, because of the access to power afforded by White privilege.” According to the report, the CRJE complained that “the voices of White resisters” were obstacles to achieving “Talking About Race” goals because they “took up a disproportionate amount of space at racial affinity group discussions” – in other words, they pushed back against the CRT ideas being pushed on them.
CRJE Work in NYC Schools Provoked Parent, Teacher Backlash
In 2019, the CRJE generated headlines due to its controversial views about racial identity. The New York City Department of Education paid the CRJE $400,000 to conduct parent training sessions across the city.
The New York Post reported the CRJE told parents society has a racial hierarchy, with whites at the top and Blacks at the bottom. When the parent of an Asian student asked where Asian-Americans fit into the hierarchy, CRJE trainers replied they are at the top, where they “benefit from white supremacy” and “proximity to white privilege.”
According to the Post, the NYC Department of education neither denied nor condemned the CRJE claim of white privilege for Asians.
Given that about 35 percent of Cypress High students are Asian, putting teachers through training that claims those students and their families are beneficiaries of white supremacy is outrageous. One can see how teachers and parents would find that belief offensive. Yet that it never seemed to occur to the AUSHD leadership.
Conflicting Answers From AUSHD
Out of all the high schools in the district, why did AUSHD leaders choose Cypress and Katella high schools? This questions was put to the district, and we received this e-mail response from Public Information Officer John Bautista on September 10, 2021:
“Part of this grant requested two high school sites. The District selected one site on the west end (Cypress) and one site on our east end (Katella).”
However, a different reason was given in a January 26, 2021 email from Carlos J. Hernandez, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, to Adriana Villavicencio of UCI (who helped connect AUSHD and CRJE:
We selected Cypress High School because they are on the journey to improve the culture on campus. We have brought in the OC Human Relations to assist us in Staff Professional Learning and to improve relationships with their students. As the OC Human Relations MOU ends in May of 2021, the Racial Justice in Schools Opportunity would continue the work that has begun at Cypress HS.
We selected Katella High School because although their culture is more welcoming and inclusive, there is work to do. We also have a district wide Black Lives Matter Committee and the lead teacher is Carlo Davis, a teacher at Katella HS. Therefore, we believe that Carlo will be key in not only helping be a leader at Katella HS through the Racial Justice in Schools Opportunity, but use this to leverage his leadership role in the BLM committee and impact the entire district
As you can see, Hernandez makes no mention of geography as a selection factor. So why not provide the criteria sent to Villavicencio in response to this writer’s original question? Why invent a response out of whole cloth?