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OP-ED: Equity in Education: What We Were Not Told, What We Do Not Know

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This article is to alleviate possible confusion regarding dates of approval and costs of two training projects, Equity in Education and Crucial Conversations, the Hernando County School District has approved and paid for.  While searching for information to clarify the dates of approval and the costs of the training projects, a Pandora’s Box of questions was released, relating to approvals, costs, and method of funding for training projects drenched in Critical Race Theory.

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On January 26, 2021, the Coordinator of Federal Programs for the Hernando County School District presented to the School Board, for approval, the $107,800 purchase of the conversational training program, VitalSmart’s “Crucial Conversations” (Not Franklin Covey’s Equity in Education} The Coordinator reported that the Crucial Conversations training program was a “how to have conversation about equity, without it leading towards people getting offended or defensive.” (Emphasis added)  The funds came from a Title 1 grant ($47,530.00) and ESSER funds ($60,269.40).

In July of 2020 Franklin Covey’s Equity in Education was approved by  Consent Agenda without discussion.  The School District’s information provided, pursuant to a freedom of information request, is unclear as the exact cost of the Equity in Education training program.  However, the information indicates that the description of this training program was part of the original ESSER/CARES Act submission.

The training program Franklin Covey Equity in Education From the Inside Out EDU 1495237 Version 1.1.8 training guide, obtained from the School District, is for faculty and staff and not students.  This training program is totally seeped in Critical Race Theory indoctrination precepts.  These teachings are themselves racist.  It describes minority students as minorized students (oppressed and oppressor?), it claims asking for a “right answer” is harmful and must be replaced by collaboratively developed goals or defined outcomes, it denounces merit and meritocracy as detrimental, and decries assimilation as damaging, and much, much more un-American tenets.  These Critical Race Theory precepts aim to decrease the Achievement Gap (the variance between higher performance student scores and lower performance student scores) by lowering standards and seeks and promotes equal outcomes by reducing higher performance student educational opportunities and challenges while directing lower performance students toward mediocracy.  Plans to reduce the Achievement Gap is admirable and necessary, but the Critical Race Theory method is a lose lose method, injurious to both higher performance students and lower performance students.  

Now for what we know and what we don’t know:
According to information from the School District, in “2019-2020, the School Board approved a collaboration agreement with Equal Opportunity Schools.”  (EOS)  The School District paid EOS $124,000 and $112,000 for projects for 2020-2021.  The funding source was a Title IV, Part A federal grant – Student Support and Academic Achievement.  This we know.

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The School District’s information is unclear as to the exact cost of the Equity in Education training program.   This cost we do not know.  We don’t know if the funding for Equity in Education training program came from ESSER/CARES or from Title IV, Part A.  We don’t know what the EOS $124,000 and the $112,000 bought.  Did it pay for more Critical Race Theory programs or projects?  Did it pay for Critical Race Theory training?   Did it pay for other programs or projects?  

Is the School District circumventing openness about its Critical Race Theory initiatives?  Were parents and the public in general made aware of the content of the Franklin Covey Equity in Education training?  Was any training given in 2020?  If yes, what training was given?  Is any future training planned?  If yes, what training will be given and when?  Who attends training sessions and who conducts training sessions?  Does the School District deny or confirm that Critical Race Theory is embed in Equity in Education and possibly in the use of Crucial Conversations?  Parents and all people are entitled to know.  What, if anything, is the School District hiding? 

NOTE:  EOS developed a program to reduce the Achievement Gap by enrolling lower performing students in Advanced, AP, and IB classes.  EOS claims that lower performing students will become higher performing students basically by dint of being in these classes.  The School Board approved the program at a Board Workshop meeting.  (See video of the Board Workshop of June 25, 2019)  Realistically, for the program to be successful standards and/or requirements for the classes will be lowered or eliminated.

Arlene Glantz
[email protected]  
 

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