credit: dactionforchildren.org

credit: dactionforchildren.org

I believe in what I do. I believe in the value of the public schools, not only as a means of providing children with vital American values and socialization, but as one of the fundamental instruments of American democracy, working from the bottom up. It is therefore anguishing when I come across articles like this one from Steve Gunn at EAGnews: 

The Pacific Educational Group (PEG) espouses a lot of controversial and stereotypical concepts regarding minority students in K-12 schools.

For instance, the organization teaches that black kids are less likely to respond to fundamental ideas like working hard to achieve success, or being on time for school or work, because those ideas are supposedly foreign to African-American culture.

PEG is literally selling notions like that to American public schools, and the schools are buying them, at a cost of millions of tax dollars every year.

As regular readers know, I often write about charlatans who package such damaging and feckless tripe and sell it, to their profit and to the annoyance of teachers and students, across the nation. The faddish nature of American education, as well as the foolishness of far too many school administrators who think their job to be coming up with magical concepts that will revolutionize education, makes this possible. They should be focusing on being sure the schools have what they need to teach effectively instead. Mankind has changed little in millennia. We still learn in precisely the same ways; we just have more convenient tools.

One prominent black professional, journalist and author Juan Williams, thinks those schools are subscribing to a politically-driven philosophy that grossly underestimates the capabilities of minority students, particularly black children.

‘These people (associated with PEG) are engaged in cultural, political arguments that are based on negative stereotypes of black capacity to achieve in any situation,’ Williams said

‘My mother never would have said, ‘You don’t have to be on time. If you are then you are acting white.’ That idea is tragically insulting.

I don’t often agree with Williams, who when it matters, too often forgets that it was conservatives that not only supported him, but employed him when he was fired by NPR for not precisely toeing the progressive line. However, he is precisely right here. It’s interesting that the ability to work hard and succeed regardless of race that has well served him does not allow him to see that the entire progressive ideology he defends is the antithesis of his formula for success and is doing enormous damage to anyone forced to live under it. And how lucrative is sewing racism in the public schools?

EAGnews recently obtained a partial list of American school districts that contract with San Francisco-based PEG for educational consulting services. Most of those services come in the form of workshops for teachers and other staff members.

Forty-two districts on that list responded to an EAGnews request for information about how much they have paid PEG over the past five years.

The total amount was $3.9 million between 2010 and 2015, with some districts spending a lot more than others.

The biggest spender on the list was Pittsburgh Public Schools, which paid PEG a whopping $586,300 over a four-year period.

Then there’s the Osseo, Minnesota school district, which has paid PEG $533,800 over the past three years.

The other top PEG spenders on the list are Baltimore County Public Schools ($427,000), Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas ($362,750), Talbot County Public Schools in Maryland ($259,100) and the Bellevue School District in Washington ($237,100, including $153,600 in 2014-15).

Even in Texas, where I teach and where I am regularly forced to endure workshops that encourage me to long for a peaceful and rapid demise to end the pain, that’s real money. Take the link to see a chart with all of the school districts that have filled PEG’s coffers.

What are the educators in these districts learning in exchange for all of that money?

The PEG message is centered on the concept of ‘white privilege’ and the detrimental impact it supposedly has on minority students.

On a basic level, PEG teaches that minority students don’t do as well as white students on the average because traditional American education is structured around white cultural norms, which are frequently difficult for minority students to grasp.

Reasonable people might see value in that idea. It makes sense for teachers and other educators to be more aware of the various cultural influences and traditions that shape the mentality of their students.

But many people believe PEG goes overboard with the concept, to an alarming degree. Many of the organization’s messages seem to suggest that minority kids are incapable of learning and succeeding unless K-12 curriculum is specifically customized for them.

That’s precisely what PEG is saying to milk public treasuries across the nation, and it’s utter bunk. My school, for example, has a relatively small black student population, and a considerably larger Hispanic population. It remains mostly white. Exposure to that culture seems to belie PEG’s premise. My Hispanic and black kids somehow manage to get to school on time, to hold jobs, to do their work, and in many cases, to excel academically.

There is no doubt that socioeconomic status can have an effect on academic achievement, but claiming whites are somehow “privileged” and that privilege somehow magically prevents others—particularly blacks—from having successful lives, is not only insulting, even inherently racist, but idiotic. It assumes that black people are genetically intellectually inferior, or that white people can somehow repress black intellectual performance against their will. It also claims that only by allowing black children to adopt the worst and most thuggish aspects of urban black “culture” can they find academic achievement.

Only people that cannot understand why that is the height of idiocy and educational malpractice would knowingly hire PEG for such indoctrination.

In every respect, my mid-sized high school proves it to be nonsense. Black students—indeed, all students—must follow a dress code. They can’t wear gang colors, allow their pants to hang around their ankles, wear hats backward–they can’t wear them at all indoors or carry them around—and must maintain other grooming and behavior standards. Teachers are in charge and any student challenging that reality immediately discovers their mistake. Anything resembling gang behavior is ruthlessly and immediately extinguished. There are no excuses, no valid claims that one’s culture makes it impossible to be polite, punctual, hard working and sincere. It is not surprising that when kids have no real choice but to behave and learn, they behave and learn, and color makes no difference. Children are amazingly adaptable, and if adults maintain unbending boundaries, kids will, for the most part, live up to them. Allow them to excuse stupid, rude and criminal behavior and a complete lack of performance regarding culture or anything else, and some will take advantage of that negative and destructive opportunity.

It is important not to equate bad, self-destructive behavior with some kind of holy culture beyond reproach.  It is particularly important not to excuse, in any way, that kind of behavior.

There is–there must be–no white, black or Hispanic standard, only the standard of politeness. Kids don’t get to be rude or stupid, and they don’t get to keep other from learning, ever. In other schools and places, not everyone is a believer in demanding great things of kids, however. Many buy into the idea that one’s mere skin color is oppressive and harmful to others, and the oppressed therefore cannot be expected to behave properly and to achieve as much as the non-oppressed:

When I came here the teachers really did believe that they were doing the best job for the population that they worked with,’ Sharon Brittingham, a school principal, told a 2010 ‘white privilege’ conference in Wisconsin, which PEG helped organize. ‘But what had to change was that belief that these children could learn at high levels of expectations.”

Teachers are actually encouraged by PEG to segregate children by race.

PEG doesn’t put it quite that bluntly, but it does instruct teachers to identify ‘focus students,’ adding that ‘it is preferable for all the students to be of the same racial group.

credit: ic.galegroup.com

credit: ic.galegroup.com

I’m confused. Wasn’t that whole civil rights movement thing in the 50s and 60s about doing away with racial segregation, particularly in the schools? Oh, that’s right: progressives absolutely opposed integration, and now they’re trying to separate the races again.

Teachers are also taught that they should have separate behavior expectations for minority students, because those students supposedly come from cultures with radically different values.

For instance, one of the annual white privilege conferences in Wisconsin taught participants that minority kids frequently have a ‘different value and view on time, missed days, working together, and wait time between questions and answers.’

It tells teachers to ‘be flexible’ with minority students who are persistently late or miss a lot of school days. It also tells teachers to be tolerant if black children exhibit ‘an exuberant participation style of shouting out answers and questions.

Translation: Let minority kids show up–or not—when and how often they please, and let them be as rude and disruptive as they please. They don’t need to know how to be reliable or how to fit into society in a way that will enable them to work with others and make a living for themselves.

According to PEG, white culture is based on ‘white individualism’ or ‘white traits’ like ‘rugged individualism,’ ‘adherence to rigid time schedules,’ ‘plan(ning) for the future,’ and the idea that ‘hard work is the key to success.’

Minority students shouldn’t be expected to subscribe to those values because they are foreign to their culture, according to PEG.

Translation: Whatever, you do, don’t act “white.” Being a successful individual, planning for the future and working hard are whitey ideas; no minority person should ever so much as think about doing any of that. That’s selling out to “the man.”

The tradition of black Americans throughout history is one that values the opportunity for education,’ Williams said. ‘That includes being on time and working hard in school. You won’t find a black mother or father who says that’s not our tradition.

‘We’re all in the same American culture. In any job you have to be on time. That’s just the way the world works. These people are engaged in cultural and political arguments that are based on negative stereotypes of black capacity to achieve in any situation. They are not helping these kids.

Williams is correct, with the exception of failing to recognize that too many black parents don’t have any idea what their tradition is and will allow their children to fail for the sake of appearing to be authentically black. The well-documented dissolution of the black family plays a substantial role in this failing. But that’s not all. Did you know that food is also racist? 

Dr. Verenice Gutierrez, a principal with Portland Public Schools, has become convinced that America’s ‘white culture’ negatively influences educators’ world view and the manner in which they teach their students.

For instance, last year a teacher in the district presented a lesson that included a reference to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gutierrez says that by using sandwiches as an illustration, the teacher was engaged in a very subtle form of racism.

‘What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?’ asked Gutierrez, according to Portland Tribune. ‘Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.

Right. Uh, why do Somalis and others come to America in the first place? To avoid everything about American culture so as to savor the memory of the blessings of their native lands, the lands they fled, in some cases as from a pestilence? As you might have guessed, PEG is involved here as well:

According to the Tribune, Portland educators are subjected to ‘intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives,’ all based on Singleton’s premise that only by becoming aware of the pervasive ‘white privilege’ can teachers change their classroom practices to reach minority students.

In addition to teaching that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are racist, PEG trains educators to view ‘rugged individualism,’ ‘adherence to rigid time schedules,’ and the belief that ‘hard work is the key to success’ as traits of the dominant white culture.

In other words, every foundation of American culture is evil and wrong.

PEG teaches that minority cultures value ‘color group collectivism,’ ‘interdependence,’ group success, shared property, learning through social relationships, and making life choices based on ‘what will be best for the family or group.

And how, as Sarah Palin would say, has that been workin’ out for yah? Black/progressive dominated cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, and Baltimore are distinguishable from war zones only in being more damaged and dangerous. The schools in those urban hellholes are likewise disasters. It would seem that some of those “white” traits, such as responsibility and color blindness might have some value after all.

Upon receiving this revelation from PEG, educators are encouraged to create culturally sensitive lesson plans that make use of ‘group homework preparation,’ ‘cooperative projects,’ and ‘choral reading.

Oh dear. I’m afraid I’m hopelessly culturally insensitive. I demand my students do their own work on the outmoded, white privilege theory that they have to develop their own brains. I also demand they do their own reading, actually enunciate properly and learn new and more complex and interesting words, speak and write in complete sentences, and all manner of other racially insensitive abuses. But maybe there is hope for me after all: I don’t make them eat peanut butter sandwiches–I don’t even mention them–and I don’t waste taxpayer dollars on such racist drivel.

Sometimes I’m ashamed of my profession.

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