It’s no longer a surprise to hear about public schools using their access to impressionable children to push divisive ideas about politics and race. But now it has escalated to a new level: using their taxpayer-funded budgets to shape the views of adults who live nearby.
For example, in Pennsylvania, Seria Chatters, Director of Equity and Inclusivity for the State College Area School District, wrote to parents to have them “learn more about race and racism… through the Parent and Community Book Club!” The book club would not be for cultivating a love of literature; rather, the choices were “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, “EveryDay AntiRacism,” edited by Mica Pollack, and “Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence” by Derald Wing Sue.
Even more surprising, it is often the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), a group that seemingly represents parents’ interests, that has instead taken to gathering adults so they can be influenced by the growing mass of school race or “equity” departments.
In Pinellas County, Florida, diversity honchos are subjecting parents of elementary school students to optional anti-racist training. The recurring event “Let’s Talk About Race: An educational series for North Shore families, friends, and teachers,” is “a training series hosted by the North Shore Elementary PTA about race and racism [and] how it affects almost every aspect of American life,” according to materials obtained by The Daily Wire.
Although the series is “hosted” by the school’s PTA, it originated from an ideological school system office that was seeking to operate on parents and is “co-sponsored” by the school system’s Equity Professional Development Department. Teachers can attend the same training in order to meet continuing education requirements.
The training is conducted by Community Tampa Bay, an activist group that is funded by the school system and runs an “Advocacy Academy.” Community Tampa Bay’s work with the school system includes “cultural humility” training, three-day long sessions for teachers, and “all-day empowerment experiences” for students.
For the 2016-17 schoolyear, the Pinellas schools paid Community Tampa Bay $212,000, according to a contract obtained by The Daily Wire, in part for “cultural competence training” for “school leaders, educators, parents, students and community stakeholders.”
The PTA sessions are led by Samira Obeid, Community Tampa Bay’s program director. On her LinkedIn profile, Obeid describes herself as “a masculine performing, Indian lesbian raised Hindu on my mother’s side and Muslim on my father’s side. My identities and lived experience not only make up who I am but inform what I do. I moved to the U.S. in 2007 where I earned my second and third master’s degrees in Multimedia Journalism and Gender Studies, respectively.”
The ideas being promoted are not merely to be kind to everyone and not to discriminate. Instead, schools are pushing bizarre and controversial views about race.
One Pinellas training material given to teachers and obtained by The Daily Wire suggests that employees should expect minorities to be late for appointments. “Families of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) background may value punctuality differently than mainstream cultures,” it says.
A “Civics Equity Lesson” for middle schoolers in the district asks “How do laws create a system of inequality?” It has the teacher “project the definition of systemic inequality — unequal outcomes built into our institutions, like schools, that will produce inequality.” Then it asks students, “Is equal fair?”
It is apparently important to educators that parents hold similar beliefs.
Across the country, some parents argue that the PTA has become not so much a group advancing its members’ interests but rather one operating as an adjunct of schools and seeking to change the views of its members.
In Wake County, North Carolina, the PTA Council’s office is located at the school system’s headquarters complex.
On Saturday, the Wake PTA Council held a conference for parents on topics such as “Transgender 101,” “Becoming an LGBTQ+ Youth Ally,” and “how to embrace diversity equity and inclusion through cultural competencies,” journalist A.P. Dillon reported.
The keynote speaker at the “Diversity and Equity Inclusion Conference” was the past president of the organization, who has also run trainings for Raleigh Organizing Against Racism and served as chair of a National PTA committee.
PTA dues fund such events. The North Carolina statewide PTA organization had nearly $500,000 in assets in the year ending June 2019. It spent more than $137,000 on conferences and $20,000 on lobbying that year, but gave out only $12,500 in grants, Dillon reported.
These groups appear to be following cues from their parent organization, the National PTA.
In December, the National PTA wrote to then-president elect Joe Biden’s transition team letting him know that “National PTA has engaged in, and is committed to, deep, program-wide work and advocating on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for parents and students alike. We fully embrace this belief and the work of over 22,000 PTAs around the country reflects the importance of equity both inside and outside the classroom.”
“National PTA believes that it is our duty to disrupt the systems that propagate institutional racism. We call upon our PTA members to listen, educate and advocate to demand meaningful change to end institutional racism. Our efforts must be intentional, purposeful and relentless,” it says.
The National PTA says “Race and bias affects everyone” and encourages parents to read an article called “Your 5-Year Old Is Already Racially Biased, Here’s What You Can Do About It.”
Are parents asking the PTA to accuse their young children of racism?
Elena Fishbein, a former social worker who is now president of a parents’ education advocacy group called No Left Turn in Education, says the PTA is encouraging activity from which most parents would want to protect their children.
Fishbein told The Daily Wire that she has seen “equity” lesson plans in which teachers are told to expect that kids will feel sad, helpless and traumatized because of what they hear. She said she has spoken to parents whose children did have such reactions and likened it to the abuse and trauma she saw as a social worker.
“The emotional abuse that kids of all colors undergo hearing constant talk of oppression in nearly every class — what kind of emotion does that stir among kids? What kind of relationship do you think any kid identified by the color of their skin can have with someone else?” she asked.
“It’s shoved on them by the schools. This is not being asked for by any significant number of parents,” she said. “Which parent would want this for their kid?”
This is the first in a three-part series on the Parent Teacher Association.