[To learn more about the Freedom Center’s fight against K-12 indoctrination, visit StopK12Indoctrination.org.]
Last fall in Thinking Minnesota magazine, Katherine Kersten authored, “Whose values? Educational Excellence Threatened by Ideology in Edina Schools.” As she learned, district bosses were more occupied with “white racism,” dressed up as a concern for “equity” but in reality “an oppressive ideology with authoritarian undercurrents that steamrolls students and intimidates parents.”
Some Edina parents had never heard of the “white privilege” concept until it turned up in an eighth-grade class on “21st Century Literacy Skills.” On social media, one parent noted, “this is a mandatory class!” and part of the official curriculum. It also featured tests, and if students failed to answer in politically correct fashion, teachers took points away.
A teacher also quashed the “speaking privileges” of a contrarian student, and another was reportedly sent to the principal’s office. If that had happened to her kids, one parent wrote, “I would be marching into the principal’s office with steam coming out my ears!” One parent wanted to protest at the state capital but another warned that liberal teachers will call the protestors “racists.”
For most parents, this had been their first brush with “white privilege,” and they wondered where it came from. Several traced the concept to the Pacific Education Group, founded in 1992 by “diversity expert” Glenn Singleton. He cited the “systemic racism” of “white culture” as the major cause of the schools’ “failure to educate and engage black, brown, and Native American Indian students.” Major school districts across the country have deployed PEG personnel and materials but the racist ideology traces back to White Privilege and Male Privilege, a 1988 paper by Peggy McIntosh of Wellesley College.
“White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks,” wrote McIntosh. “I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time,” was her first example of white privilege. The 45 others were equally bogus.
“Obliviousness about white advantage is kept strongly inculturated, so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy,” wrote McIntosh, profiled in the May 1992 Heterodoxy, forerunner to Frontpage, as one of the “10 Wackiest Feminists on Campus.” At the time, McIntosh was persuading schools in Brookline, Massachusetts, to deemphasize “excellence” and “disciplined thinking,” which are part of the conceptual hegemony imposed by a “white blond male elite.” McIntosh said her paper was “not a scholarly analysis” but she was far too kind to herself.
White Privilege is the brand of sub-junkthought now oppressing students and parents in Edina. Any protest brings charges of racism, the left’s default incantation to ward off criticism. Parents should understand that the charge best applies in the other direction.
Leftist educrats tell students that skin shade, something beyond their control, is responsible for some “unearned” privilege for which they must somehow atone. By extension, any of the student’s academic achievements are also due to this privilege. Edina parents would be right to call this racism, and fully justified in throwing it back at district bosses.
As Thomas Sowell has often noted, statistical disparities between people and groups are the rule, not the exception, and disparities do not indicate discrimination. This is due to factors such as personal differences, effort, and choice. Leftist racial theorists tell the allegedly non-privileged students that disparities and difficulties have nothing to do with themselves but only with the moral lapses of those enjoying “white privilege.” As with racism, the privilege is all on the other side.
This racist inquisition is exploiting a government monopoly school system. Those who work in this system enjoy generous salaries and pensions, lockstep raises, tenure and other benefits, none of it related to actual classroom performance and student achievement. So when it comes to unearned benefits, this gang is as privileged as it gets.
One Edina parent mentioned an independent academy where there would be “no thought policing” and the students would “learn the things that matter.” Full choice in education, with the dollars following the scholars as in the G.I. Bill, would indeed empower parents and students alike. That is why leftist politicians, educrats and teacher unions deploy their power against choice. They like intimidating parents and steamrolling captive students with oppressive orthodoxies like “white privilege.”
“It is lucky for the Chicano kids in Jaime Escalante’s classes that he did not stand and deliver such nonsense,” Heterodoxy contended in 1992. “If he had, they never would have learned the vertical discipline of calculus and seen their way out of the Los Angeles ghetto.” And McIntosh’s politically correct dogma was “a manifesto for mediocrity.”
In 2013, Edina schools adopted the “All for All,” plan, based on the premise that white racism is the primary cause of the achievement gap. Four years later, as Katherine Kersten noted, one in five Edina high-school students can’t read at grade level and one-third can’t do grade-level math. In the district as a whole, 30 percent of students are not on track for success in reading and math.
On the other hand, as a parent observed, students are being taught that “Disney movies are both sexist and racist.” A story on the cinematic Minnquisition will appear in due course.