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Sensitivity Training For Pre-Schoolers: Inside One School District’s ‘Anti-Racist Audit’

The Montgomery County School District announced its new goal is to become "an anti-racist school system.”
Hallie Wells Middle School is the first new middle school in 11 years in Maryland's Montgomery County, on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, in Clarksburg, MD. The school soon opens as enrollment in Montgomery County, Maryland's largest school system, continues to grow.
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Montgomery County Public School district in Maryland spent more than $450,000 on an “anti-racist audit” for the 2020-21 school year, which resulted in the district tentatively adopting policies that push “anti-racist thinking” in preschool.

According to a copy of the school district’s “tentative action policy” obtained by The Daily Wire, the district will now provide a “culturally responsive Prekindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum that promotes equity, respect, anti-racist thinking, and civility.” The curriculum will also teach students that “the impact of racism on mental health has been deemed a public health crisis.”

The school district, which is one of the largest in the nation, announced in November that it would partner with the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium for $454,680 to conduct an “anti-racist audit.” The audit was designed to “examine [the district’s] systems, practices, and policies that do not create access, opportunities, and equitable outcomes for every student’s academic and social emotional well-being.” According to Bethesda Magazine, the contract was awarded despite anticipated budget cuts of up to $155 million. 

In a review of the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium’s financial filings, the Washington Free Beacon discovered that the group had raked in $17 million in taxpayer dollars between mid-2018 to mid-2019. The group has not reported a private donation in four years and has received its government financial backing through a partnership with the Department of Education. 

The audit is ongoing, but its reach is already being seen in curriculum changes, policy changes, school board meetings, and parent-teacher association (PTA) meetings. In a powerpoint presentation delivered by the district in a PTA meeting, the district stated its newfound goal “is to be an anti-racist school system.” 

To achieve the goal of becoming an anti-racist school system, the district has adjusted the definition of commonly used words such as “discrimination” and “racism.” 

The dictionary defines discrimination as “an unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.” In its tentative policy, Montgomery County Public School district has expanded discrimination to include any action that may be “facially neutral” but may have a “disparate impact” on another student or staff member. 

“Discrimination also includes conduct or practices that may be facially neutral but that have an unjustified disparate impact based on individuals’ actual or perceived personal characteristics,” the policy reads. “Discrimination encompasses racism, sexism, and any other form of institutional prejudice in all their manifestations.”

The policy also adjusted the definition of racism. The new understanding of racism defines it as “systemic oppression.” 

“Racism means the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another,” the policy reads. 

The school board also inserted a new prohibition on language, displays, images, or symbols that they consider to “promote hate.” According to the policy, the board plans to prohibit “the use of language and/or the display of images and symbols which promote hate and can be reasonably expected to cause substantial disruption to school or district operations or activities.”

One could reasonably assume this to be a mechanism to punish, or silence, a student or staff member that wears paraphernalia or speaks about a subject that may offend the school’s left-leaning ideology. 

The policy concluded with an update to the school’s hiring, retention, and promotion processes, which will now be viewed through an “equity lens.” The same “equity lens” will also be applied to training for “professional staff, curriculum, pedagogy, learning, instructional materials, and assessments designs.” 

The Montgomery County Public School district did not respond to requests for comment. 

Related: Elite Private School In L.A. Rolls Out New ‘Anti-Racism’ Policies — Some Students, Parents, And Alumni Aren’t Thrilled

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