You won’t believe how activists pushed Loudoun into critical race theory
In 2021, not a week goes by without Loudoun County, Va., Making headlines because of its drive to implement Critical Race Theory in its schools. Parents are frustrated and search for answers, while Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) remain largely silent as this affluent county outside Washington, DC has become ground zero in the fight against critical theory of race in schools.
The story of how it all happened seems relatively straightforward, but it’s actually a complicated story of gas firing, big money deals, and unfairly throwing teachers under the bus.
It all started with a ‘Runaway Slave Game’
It all started in February 2019 when Loudoun County made national news after the Loudoun County NAACP Chairman claimed that students at Madison Trust Elementary School were instructed to pretend to be slaves during a gymnastics class activity. This exercise was presented to the media as a “runaway slave game. “
The school was quick to apologize and then superintendent Eric Williams mentionned the school system would take corrective action, including hiring “[a]n external expert [to] conduct an equity audit ”, requiring all teachers to receive“ training on cultural competency and implicit biases ”, and the creation of a new post related to“ equity and cultural competence ”.
LCPS immediately began to act. In April 2019, he hired The Equity Collaborative, a consulting firm in California that specializes in critical race theory. LCPS paid this company $ 422,000 to organize focus groups, coach and train teachers, and produce an “equity assessment”. This assessment was supposed to submitted at LCPS on June 6, 2019. The report was titled: “Initial Report – Assessing Systemic Equity: A Picture of Racial Equity – Challenges and Opportunities in the Loudoun County Public School District.”
On May 22, 2019, before the publication of the fairness assessment, the Loudoun NAACP filed a complaint with the Virginia Attorney General alleging systemic racism at LCPS. On September 9, 2019, the Loudoun NAACP completed its complaint by submitting the equity assessment of $ 422,000.
This complaint sparked an investigation by the Attorney General into LCPS in October 2019 and resulted on November 18, 2020 in the decision of the Attorney General’s Office of the Human Rights Division that there were reasonable grounds to believe that “ LCPS policies and practices have had a discriminatory impact on Black / African American and Latinox / Hispanic students. The Auditor General’s report said it relied heavily on the findings of the $ 422,000 fairness assessment. Finally, in February 2021, LCPS settled the case with the Attorney General.
Revisiting the origin story of the ‘Runaway Slave Game’
As noted above, the event that sparked this course of events was the so-called “runaway slave game” at Madison Trust Elementary. When I first wrote about this as the origin of the LCPS Racial Theory Critical Drama in October 2020, I said of the game being played at the Madison Trust: “It was without a doubt. a misguided attempt to teach the Underground Railroad. ” After further research and discussions with teachers and parents across the county, I now realize that I have purchased some serious gas lighting from LCPS and the Loudoun NAACP.
In fact, the exercise prepared by the gym teachers at Madison Trust Elementary is known as the “Underground Railroad Simulation”. This is a 30-year-old program derived from critical studies of racial theory that is part of the Dare 2 Be Real program, founded by Anthony Galloway, Anti-Racism and Fairness Coach. Dare 2 be real described he like “simulate[ing] The frightening and sometimes brutal experiences of southern slaves as they fled north and to freedom.
A courageous conversation is a frame used by the Pacific Education Foundation to “effectively engage, support and deepen interracial dialogue”. The founder of the Pacific Education Foundation is Glenn Singleton, who has written a book called “Courageous Conversations About Race”, in which Galloway and Duffy contribute a chapter to discuss the simulation of the Underground Railroad.
Here’s where things get very interesting when it comes to Virginia. In the “Final Report of the Virginia Commission on the Teaching of African American History in the Commonwealth,” released in August 2020 by Governor Ralph Northam, Singleton’s book “Courageous Conversations” is listed as a resource to support implementation, as is the Pacific Education Foundation. Singleton’s book is also highlighted in at least one training presentation produced by the LCPS action director.
Meanwhile, the head of the Loudoun NAACP was part of the professional development subcommittee of the commission. It would be the same person who mentionned Madison Trust Elementary’s Underground Railroad simulation was either “willful ignorance”, “white privilege”, “intentional racist action” or a “combination of the three”.
Similarly, the head of the Equity Collaborative who conducted the equity assessment for LCPS worked for Singleton as a director of learning and teaching at the Pacific Education Group before starting The Equity Collaborative.
This is what really happened
According to an anonymous source with direct knowledge of planning and running the simulation, one of the teachers learned about the Underground Railroad simulation during a special session with the Virginia Association for Health. , Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. 2011 convention. Additionally, according to the documents reviewed by the author, the Underground Railroad simulation was presented to the school’s Project Based Learning Committee (PBL) in the fall of 2018, including all teachers from fourth year, and no issues were raised.
The lesson was on the agenda of all subsequent PBL committee meetings prior to February 2019 and 21 staff, including the director and deputy director, were aware of the lesson.
The simulation itself was divided into seven stations. These stations were:
- Work as a team to move quietly through obstacles;
- Allow students to take turns as agents (like Harriet Tubman) to help other students overcome obstacles;
- Learn more about Henry “Box” Brown;
- Use teamwork to navigate the dark;
- Simulation of crossing a river;
- Move in hoops together without dropping them; and
- Watch a video about the drinking gourd.
The school principal and dean came over to watch the exercise, both of whom said it was “awesome,” according to a source present during the simulation. The main one too tweeted: “TY for doing this with the students. They participated 100% in this learning experience. »A second member of the school staff tweeted: “This is amazing. They will love it. Thank you for working with us on our unit.”
It was only after the Loudoun NAACP complained that LCPS changed its mind. The Madison Trust director deleted his tweet and excuse for “insensitive physical education”. The principal then sent a E-mail to the whole school stating that “public schools in Loudoun County do not approve of the use of instructional strategies that place elementary school students in role play situations illustrating the institution of slavery” .
Several weeks later, after continued media coverage, six members of the Virginia Black Panthers entered the school to protest use of the Underground Railroad simulation. Since then, one of the gym teachers has left the profession and another has moved to another school.
Meanwhile, the money started to flow to the consultants. The Equity Collaborative received an initial contract and is still under contract with LCPS. The Loudoun Freedom Center, headed by the head of the Loudoun NAACP, also received a long-term “curriculum review consultation” contract that began the month following the Underground Railroad simulation.
Next, the Loudoun NAACP leveraged the Equity Collaborative Assessment to trigger a GA investigation and settlement to demand a critical breed theory in public schools in Loudoun County. All because two teachers used an exercise invented and used by anti-racist and equity coaches across the country. What an absolute rip off.
Ian Prior is the co-founder of DailyMalarkey.com, a former senior deputy director of public affairs at the US Department of Justice and a resident of Loudoun County.