By Danette Clark
Whiteness is “a condition” says a Portland Public Schools professional development hand-out, and educators should learn to “interrupt the perpetuation of White Supremacy.”
The 20 page document, SPELLing out Institutional Barriers to Just Schooling: Moving from Compliance to Equity and Excellence,” was created by Pacific Educational Group (PEG) for a seminar that took place in 2013 with Portland educators and some students.
The purpose of the seminar, the packet says, was to integrate PEG’s framework “to analyze a racial equity challenge for focal emergent bilingual/multilingual students in PPS.”
PEG is a California based organization who says its mission is to “transform educational systems into racially conscious and socially just environments.”
As evidenced by most of their professional development print-outs, at the heart of PEG’s framework is critical race theory, which, in a nutshell, is the theory that United States law is racist — that it was created and is still structured to uphold white supremacy.
PEG admits that it targets ‘white culture’ as the source of the problems minority students face, and says “it is critical for educators to address racial issues in order to uncover personal and institutional biases that prevent all students, and especially students of color, from reaching their fullest potential.”
Page 10 of the Portland Public Schools/PEG seminar packet asks educators to engage in “courageous conversations” about race. For example, it says, educators should “know that Whiteness is a condition as well as its aspects or levels, and the purpose of recognizing it for deepening the conversation.”
Page 4 of the packet defines several tenets of critical race theory (CRT), such as “the permanence of racism,” “whiteness as property,” and “interest convergence.”
These tenets are defined as follows:
The Permanence of Racism — The notion that racism is a permanent component of American life. Racism in the USA is pervasive and operates like the air we breathe; it is ubiquitous and omnipresent.
Whiteness as Property — Due to the history of race and racism in the United States and the role that the U.S. jurisprudence has played, whiteness can be considered a property interest in three ways-1.the right to possess 2. the right to use 3. the right to disposition.
Interest Convergence — Civil rights gains for people of color should be interpreted with measured enthusiasm because the first civil rights have been enjoyed by Whites forever because they were basic tenets of U.S. democracy.
The late Harvard Professor Derrick Bell, friend and mentor to President Obama, is often credited for laying the foundation for CRT. Bell published several articles on ‘interest convergence’, which contends that whites will only promote racial advances for blacks when those advances also promote white self-interest. In other words, only if it is in the best interest of whites — when their interests converge with those of blacks — will blacks be allowed to advance in American society.
For example, in an article published in the Harvard Law Review, Bell challenged the narrative that Brown vs. Board of Education was a turning point for equality in America. According to Bell’s website, ProfessorDerrickBell.com, he instead asserted that the decision was “the result of a convergence of interests.”
Another tenet of CRT found in the Portland schools seminar packet is a theory referred to as “critique of liberalism’, which basically says that liberals have good intentions for minorities, but because of the U.S. Constitution, those intentions cannot come to fruition.
Specifically, critique of liberalism says that there are “three basic notions that have been embraced by liberal legal ideology — the notion of colorblindness; the neutrality of the law; and incremental change.” However, according to a book by PEG founder, Glenn Singleton, More Courageous Conversations About Race, CRT scholars believe that while “these appear to be desirable goals in practice, given the history of racism in the U.S. … the idea that the law is indeed color-blind and neutral is insufficient (and some would say disingenuous) to redress its deleterious effects.”
Earlier this month, EAGnews reported that the St. Paul school district has spent nearly $3 million over the past five years for PEG’s services. Under PEG’s direction, disciplinary changes were made that, according to some St. Paul teachers, have resulted in “chaos throughout the district, with far too many students out of control because they know there are no real consequences for their actions.”
According to the report, PEG rejects the concept of using suspensions or expulsions to discipline black students.
In 2013, EAGnews reported that Portland schools had already paid more than $2.5 million in tax payer dollars over 6 years to PEG, which according to the New York Post, has only resulted in more violence in the district’s schools.
From the New York Post:
After a black high-school boy repeatedly punched his teacher in the face, sending her to the emergency room, the teacher, who is white, was advised by the assistant principal not to press charges. The administrator lectured her about how hard it is for young black men to overcome a criminal record.
Worse, she was told she should examine what role she, “as a white woman” holding unconscious racial biases, played in the attack…
Wow! Is there a complimentary project designed to modify teacher interaction style? Media reports make it sound as if Black children do not hunger to learn as all humans do. Ugh! I have taught every age group from preschool to graduate students over a 30-year period. I have had 2 instances, TWO, where a student challenged me (1) or threatened me (1). This includes work in a juvenile prison! In both instances, I as the adult, diffused the situation, allowed the students to “save face” and refocused the class on the business at hand — learning! This truly is not brain surgery. However, even moreso, I believe trying to “sensitize” teachers to CRT is a waste of students’ time. Either a teacher can teach or they can’t. If they can’t they have to go! Using “360 degree” teacher and administrator evaluation would have been cheaper and I believe more effective.
No progress will ever be made by any societal subset if; 1) that subset continues to think of itself as unique among the society in which it exists and 2) that subset perceives its problems may only be solved by the benevolence and/or guilt by outside forces. The Jewish community is a subset of Western society but it does not consider itself unique even though its history and culture is. It has been oppressed yet manages to integrate and influence every culture it in which it resides. Its problems, many of which are indeed inflicted outside of its subset are solved internally. They take control of their own destiny, need no affirmative action and as a group, usually excel. Black leaders may want to give them a call sometime.