I attended the Equity Advisory Council (EAC) meeting on June 15, 2022 because I was curious what Superintendent Erin Kane had to say about the Resolution that was passed by the Board of Education earlier this year as an addendum to the Educational Equity policy. I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about the impetus behind the creation of the Educational Equity policy during this EAC meeting, as direct questions about the policy which have been posed during the last year have never been sufficiently answered, in my opinion.
It dawned on me that this individual - and likely others that contributed to creating the Education Equity policy - believe that they are the only people who can speak on behalf of ‘underrepresented’ groups.
Superintendent Kane is charged with interpreting the Resolution, and she is committed to engage with the community in this effort. She plans on asking stakeholders what they want to see happen with this policy, and what their fears are with this policy. I appreciate that Superintendent Kane recognizes that there are fears in our community about the Resolution and she seems genuine in wanting to understand them.
After sharing her ideas on how to move forward with interpreting and implementing the Resolution, Superintendent Kane asked for feedback from EAC members. One of the members of the EAC - who was involved in creating the Educational Equity policy - raised concerns about collecting feedback from ‘underrepresented’ groups. She implied several times that these groups will not likely engage in the feedback process, and didn’t seem convinced that these groups can be reached.
This attitude of infantilizing a group based on stereotypes does not sit well with me. I would feel so defeated if it were assumed that I have no agency because of my immutable characteristics such as skin color or sexual orientation. Later in the conversation, this same individual referenced data points that indicate educational disparities and proclaimed that ‘everyone knows that there’s racism in our community and we need to end it’.
It dawned on me that this individual - and likely others that contributed to creating the Education Equity policy - believe that they are the only people who can speak on behalf of ‘underrepresented’ groups. This is just one of the many tenets of Critical Social Justice (CSJ). The following table highlights the differences between Classical Liberalism and CSJ. Classical Liberalism is what our country was founded on: Enlightenment values that promote the dignity of individuals and the associated effects of empowerment, resilience, and optimism.
Proponents of CSJ, on the other hand, believe that society is built on systems of power and privilege. This worldview leads to the flattening of individuals into group identities in order to more easily identify the power structures at play and dismantle those that are deemed to be oppressive in nature. One can only imagine the type of school culture that proponents of CSJ want to create: compartmentalizing kids into groups based on immutable characteristics; assuming that kids within identity groups are interchangeable and thus treating them all the same; and promoting an “us” versus “them” mentality amongst the student population.
I now understand why we could never get an honest answer to the community’s question of “why did DCSD adopt an Educational Equity policy?”. Our community would never stand for adopting a worldview that promotes grievance and learned helplessness. And the individuals who drafted the Educational Equity policy know it. They have finally tipped their hand.