Diverse Thoughts on Teaching Diversity CON: Plan Is Regression to Race, Color Consciousness

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 8, 2000 | Go to article overview

Diverse Thoughts on Teaching Diversity CON: Plan Is Regression to Race, Color Consciousness


Writing on behalf of the National Association of Colored People in the Brown vs. Board of Education case, Thurgood Marshall declared, "Classifications based upon race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society."

The statement by Marshall, who later sat as the first African- American Justice of the Supreme Court, summed up the basis for the landmark decision in the case that ended the doctrine of "separate but equal."

The Diversity Plan being implemented by Naperville Unit District 203, while ostensibly designed to battle racism and ethnic discrimination, represents a regression to a regime of race and color consciousness.

As it unfolds, it is likely to mire the school district into more and more controversy, as proponents seek to expand the program into areas where there are sharp and intensely held differences of opinion on matters such as sexual orientation, economic class and religion.

District 203's Diversity Plan policy statement calls for "Infusing a multicultural perspective into instructional strategies."

Multiculturalism is an ideology that has become dominant on many college campuses. It emphasizes the importance of group identity over individualism, views American society as fundamentally racist and oppressive, and sees its mission as re-educating college students into what has come to be called "political correctness," so they leave school as proponents of a particular political perspective.

Citizens United to Preserve Quality Education was formed by people who are primarily concerned over the impact this overtly politicized approach will have on the curriculum and the training of teachers.

How can works of dubious value be shoehorned into the curriculum without displacing those that provide Americans of all backgrounds with a common heritage? Will constant exposure to consultants and administration directives representing just one point of view intimidate teachers into toeing an ideological line?

The Diversity Plan is vague on content. It is largely a "to do" list, consisting of activities such as checking textbooks to make sure they are multiculturally correct and holding training sessions for teachers at which they are to "develop sensitivities that will help them understand the effects of the dominant culture on minorities" and "understand their personal biases."

Our objection is that those checking for bias will only represent the "multicultural perspective." And we fear the "sensitivity training" called for in the plan is another name for indoctrination.

Is this an alarmist view?

An article offered by District 203 staff implementing the Diversity Plan to illustrate the "multicultural perspective" is "Multicultural Education" by James A. Banks, perhaps the most quoted authority on this subject. Professor Banks decries "positivists, those who are the heirs of Enlightenment intellectual tradition."

Of course, this is the tradition on which the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are based. And Dr. Banks clearly calls for multicultural education to turn students into social activists. Perhaps that is why one mother recently reported that her kindergarten child was being indoctrinated about the homeless. To us, this seems too young to tackle a complicated problem.

Another article offered by administrators to explain their perspective is entitled "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack."

It is a rhetorical list of subjective observations about "white privilege." A key passage is as follows: "... obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. …

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Diverse Thoughts on Teaching Diversity CON: Plan Is Regression to Race, Color Consciousness
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