Yesterday, I noted that five of seven candidates for the Montgomery County, Maryland school board say the biggest problem facing the school district is lower achievement by “students of color.” I disputed the notion that this gap is the school board’s responsibility or problem, but that view seems to be an article of faith in education circles nowadays.
It’s also generating a new industry — cultural and racial equity training. Pacific Education Group is an industry leader. According to the Kansas City Star, the California firm “has been in high demand in recent years, training educators, city leaders and corporate executives from Lawrence [Kansas] to New York and Philadelphia to Los Angeles and around the world.”
The Group’s founder, Glenn Singleton, is the author of “Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools.” The “courageousness” of Singleton’s politically correct conversations is open to question, but according to the Star, his is the No. 1 book recommended by the Missouri School Board Association for educators and administrators to read this year.
Recently, however, parents in a Missouri school district — Lee’s Summit — rebelled against paying Singleton and his group to provide cultural and racial equity training. They expressed their displeasure at a school board meeting and on social media.
According to the Star, critics “opposed Singleton’s firm because of its cost, and its discussion of white privilege and the cultural competence of white teachers educating black children.” Some wondered why the focus should be on inequities related to race.
The response, I suppose, is that race is where the most obvious unequal outcomes are. The Star tells us that “based on a formula involving Missouri Assessment Program scores, Lee’s Summit’s black students performed nearly 84 points below white students in 2015, 2016 and 2017.” And, according to district data, the margin is widening not narrowing.
I don’t think critics are denying that racial outcomes are unequal, though. Instead, it appears that they reject, as I do, the idea that responsibility for poor outcomes lies with the school district, rather than the students and/or their parents.
They are striking a blow in favor of common sense and individual responsibility, and against fancy talk, group think, and victimology.
We should expect no less from the Show Me State.