A wealthy school district in the Chicago suburbs purportedly held “anti-racism” training for school administrators, telling them that expecting people of color to teach white people was a form of “covert white supremacy.”
On February 26, Naperville 203 Community Unit School District hosted a training on systemic racism for faculty and staff and brought in “anti-racists” Coach Dena Simmons for a keynote address. The Countywide Equity Institute included 10 speakers who presented on practices of “equity and inclusion” for “marginalized and/or underrepresented” students, as well as implicit bias and microaggressions. According to The Federalist, a whistleblower, also a teacher that works in the school, claims Simmons told attendees “Our education is built on a foundation of whiteness” and that Americans are spiritually murdering” students. Simmons also reportedly said that if you’re not an “anti-racist” you’re a racist, even if you believe “you’re treating people with respect.”
The whistleblower said Simmons’ lecture was “all over the place” and “hard to follow” in terms of content. Simmons reportedly said that “snow removal” indicates systemic racism, presumably referring to a viral Feb. 3 column published by Los Angeles Times in which the author condemned her Republican neighbor for plowing her driveway. In an article titled “How to Be an Antiracist Educator” published in October 2019, Simmons praised The New York Times’ “1619 Project” as a “comprehensive opportunity to learn and discuss history and race with colleagues and students.” The “1619 Project” claims that America is systemically racist and that all of modern society and injustices are directly linked to slavery.
Simmons also said during a TEDx talk that “white supremacy” is the result of schools refusing to teach students about racial justice and anti-racism. “It’s almost time for an amazing day of learning in @Naperville203! So excited for our lineup, discussions, reflections, and ACTIONS that will make us better together. #BeTheSpark,” the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Naperville, Jayne Willard, who organized the Feb. 26 “antiracist training,” tweeted that morning. Simmons is the founder of LiberatED, a group “focused on developing school-based resources at the intersection of social and emotional learning (SEL), racial justice and healing.” She reportedly receives a speaking fee of $10,000 to $20,000 to essentially discuss the redistribution of wealth and social prestige by race.
In The Federalist report, there are pictures that teachers in the Valbrun training took, one of which depicts a pyramid graph that differentiates between examples of “covert” and “overt” white supremacy. Among the overt examples, the graph claims the phrase “Make America Great Again” is covert white supremacist language, nearly equivalent in context to the N-word and the Ku Klux Klan. Also, it claims denying the existence of “white privilege” makes you a racist. So does the “celebration of Columbus Day.” Another slide said that pushing for “diversity” is not enough because “diversity” encompasses multiple human characteristics used to identify individuals and groups. The slide insinuates that “diversity” does not promote “racial justice” because it does not account enough for a race.
Other examples of “covert white supremacy” included “not believing experiences of [people of color],” “police murdering [people of color],” “Euro-centric Curriculum,” “Expecting [people of color] to teach white people,” “assuming that good intention are enough,” “celebrating Columbus Day,” “the bootstrap theory,” “Denial of white privilege” and becoming a “self-appointed white ally.” Valbrun is the CEO of Valbrum Consulting Group, an organization that provides training and leadership development for schools and districts. In 2019, Valbrun presented at The Harvey B. Gantt Museum, Equity and Innovation Teacher Institute on equity and systemic racism in education.
The training came shortly after the Illinois State Board of Education voted to adopt new “culturally responsive” teaching standards that force educators to “embrace and promote progressive viewpoints.” The legislation makes clear that teachers and leaders must also affirm the identities of gender-dysphoric students. This includes integrating and implementing “the broad spectrum and fluidity of identities” into the curriculum.
ARTICLE: EMANUELI TANAHASHI
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS