Ideologically-based teacher screening becomes widespread

Increasingly, school districts are asking candidates for teaching positions questions about “cultural competency,” race, and “equity” during the application and interview process. Education Week has the details. They aren’t pretty.

Lauren Dachille, CEO of a company that peddles teacher screening software to around 500 districts across the country, says:

Now that we’ve become a little more aware of the concept of anti-racism and maybe a little more woke as a culture, I do think that districts have started to emphasize these questions a little bit more. They might be more common, they might be more explicit.

What are some of the “more explicit” questions asked of applicants for teaching positions?

Some schools and districts may ask teachers scenario-based questions about how they’d respond to inequities or systemic biases. For example, an applicant might be asked what they would do if they noticed a colleague in their grade level was disproportionately sending Black students out of the classroom for discipline.

“Mind my own damn business” is a good answer, but not an acceptable one, I assume.

One principal says she will ask applicants what they’ve done personally or professionally to be more anti-racist or how they ensure that the values of diversity and cultural awareness are reflected in their practice. Just giving a “woke” answer isn’t enough. The principal claims “we can tell—are you just talking language or are you able to connect your language with what you actually do?”

The principal would have been at home in Stalin’s Russia or in Inquisition Spain.

Here are some of the questions that Karen Rice-Harris, chairwoman of the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, recommends districts ask:

Sometimes, there is a belief that a commitment to diversity conflicts with a commitment to excellence. How would you describe the relationship between diversity and excellence?

What elements would you find in a curriculum that honors inclusion of different cultures, abilities, and perspectives?

An overrepresentation of students from historically marginalized populations receiving special education services continues to exist. Why do you think this occurs and how would you address this issue within your role?

Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live (but, thankfully, where my kids are years removed from school) asks these questions:

How do you incorporate gender diversity and the different racial and cultural backgrounds of your students and families into your daily instruction and classroom environment?

How do you connect with the backgrounds of your students?

How do you ensure that student outcomes are not predictable by race, ethnicity, culture, gender, or sexual orientation?

No rational, competent teacher of, say, chemistry would incorporate “gender diversity and different racial backgrounds of students” into daily instruction. And the only reasonable answer to the third question is, in effect, “by not taking race, ethnicity, culture, gender, or sexual orientation” into account. I suspect, though, that answers along these lines are unsatisfactory and probably disqualifying.

A friend writes:

Obviously, an intelligent and truthful candidate would never be hired. But the situation seems such that even a candidate who is committed to giving the right answers because he or she really needs the job confronts a minefield of figuring out what the right answer is supposed to be.

Couldn’t have been much worse in Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, or Pol Pot Cambodia, save the school districts will not kill you for wrong answers. [It might] be a little bit worse here in that the correct answer is a bunch of gobbledygook in the minds of the interviewers, and no doubt varies from interviewer to interviewer.

The gobbledygook varies, but I’m pretty sure it almost always trends in the same ideological direction.

Parents really must do everything the law permits to rein in school boards throughout America.

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