Teacher trainers key source for pushing divisive content

The manifestation of Critical Race Theory’s framework in K-12 classrooms has jumped to the forefront of education debates seemingly overnight.

But the divisive principles and tenets of this 40-year-old academic theory have been promoted for quite some time, and the responsible party is largely “the farrago of education-school faculty, diversity consultants, foundation-financed frauds, and bureaucrats who train our nation’s teachers,” writes American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick Hess in the National Review.

Unable or unwilling to improve the quality of teaching, too many of these unaccountable charlatans have instead taken to promoting personal agendas, pushing outrageous practices, and browbeating school staff into parroting radical doctrines.

Such trainings “have long operated without much scrutiny or vetting,” continues Hess, and it is largely thanks to the uptick in public data requests that have revealed the red flags of the teacher training industry — including the large price tags associated with the toxic ideas being pushed.

The federal government provides states and districts more than $2 billion a year for teacher training, but the total far exceeds this figure. The largest 50 districts alone spend an estimated $8 billion annually on teacher professional development (PD), and their teachers spend about 10 percent of their work year (nearly four weeks) in training sessions. Back in 2014, the Boston Consulting Group estimated that total spending on teacher PD in the U.S. topped $18 billion annually.

Because such trainings are typically conducted by outside consultants, it’s easy for them to “drop by, do their dance, and then scoot out of town with a bag full of cash,” writes Hess.

“Anti-racism” activist and author Ibram X. Kendi, who has previously stated that CRT was “foundational” to his work, is quite the prolific capitalist in his personal life. Districts spend thousands of dollars to buy his books for required teacher training readings. Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools paid him $20,000 to give a 45-minute virtual presentation and participate in a 15-minute Q&A. According to Kendi, “In order to truly be anti-racist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist.” Kendi’s anti-racist teachings also teach educators that the only cure for past discrimination is more discrimination.

Robin DiAngelo, whose book White Fragility is another favorite reading material for teacher professional development workshops, also makes a pretty penny by promoting CRT’s framework. White people, according to DiAngelo, hold and display “inevitable racist assumptions.” DiAngelo “charges an average fee of $14,000 per event and collects an estimated $700,000 a year in speaking fees,” according to Hess.  

Equity Alliance Minnesota — who came under scrutiny for its outlandish racial equity survey — provides professional development on “equity consciousness,” and lists Forest Lake Area Schools, Inver Grove Heights Community Schools, Roseville Area Schools, South St. Paul Schools, and White Bear Lake Area Schools as members. The Sartell-St. Stephen school district dished out up to $80,000 for its “equity” survey/project with the organization.

Philanthropic foundations have spent billions of dollars to try and rectify racial inequities, but often the money gets used to hire trainers and consultants more concerned with tagging any “system” as inherently “systemically racist” than pursuing ways to help all students excel.

Unlike teachers who are charged with actually teaching kids and communicating with parents, these trainers “aren’t expected to linger in classrooms or live with the practical consequences of their diktats,” continues Hess. “Instead, they’re free to treat students as abstractions and schools as laboratories. And educators, fearful of being labeled bigots or racists, get bullied into mouthing the consultants’ woke pieties.”

The solution? Stop funding them.

Federal policy-makers, state officials, and local school boards should cease cutting checks for teacher training. It may not end the nonsense, but it’s a good start. It would also put an end to the use of taxpayer dollars to promulgate ideologies that many taxpayers oppose.

And given that there is hardly any evidence that teacher training improves actual teaching, not much will be lost except the toxic content.

With districts often citing budget constraints, “the billions of dollars that districts currently allocate for teacher trainers could be put to better use,” writes Hess. From pay bumps for educators to freeing up valuable teacher time, “defunding teacher-trainers could also help draw some of the venom out of the fierce cultural debates over schooling,” allowing “educators, parents and community leaders to find common ground.”

This doesn’t eliminate attempts to require aspiring educators to “demonstrate” divisive content in order to receive their teaching license, but it would be “a vital first step,” concludes Hess.