June 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Olathe super continues dodging questions about DEI, 1619 Project

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Olathe school officials last year said they purged the school website of DEI resources and links, but the widely-debunked 1619 Project is still in use and officials refuse to answer questions.

As The Sentinel reported in July of last year, the public-facing side of the Olathe School District Diversity Committee webpage was purged of resources and links after parents complained and Superintendent Brent Yeager said such resources were not in use.

“The work we are doing with NTC (New Teacher Center) is part of our LINK Literacy Grant approved by KSDE and the Federal Government,” Yeager to a parent at the time. “The focus is only on supporting best early learning practices and professional learning for our early childhood teachers. NTC, like most national educational companies, does have work around equity, but that is not what is happening in Olathe. In addition, there is no curriculum from them our board is approving. It is only the professional learning that I have described above.”

However, another parent noted that — in 7th-grade social studies, at least — the 1619 project is still being taught.

The parent sent part of an assignment to The Sentinel, including these questions:

  • Why does Erica Green write that what many schools in the country have been teaching is a “sanitized version of what slavery was”?  Why is that a problem?
  • What is the reality of this myth and why is it harmful: states (sic) rights lead (sic) to civil war?

Students were told to find the answers in sources including the 1619 Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice).

Last week, The Sentinel reached out again to Yeager, asking if staff were told to cease using the material. If so, we asked what action would be taken against teachers still using the material, and — if not; why were links to the materials scrubbed from the website.

The Sentinel received return receipts noting that the email to Yeager had not only been delivered, but had been read as well, but no response directly from Yeager has been made.

1619 Project promotes Critical Race Theory

The 1619 Project made the claim — which came under immediate fire — that the real founding of the United States was not July 4, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but rather with the arrival of the first African slaves some 157 years earlier.

Indeed, the 1619 Project has been part of a larger push to include the controversial Critical Race Theory — by other names such as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — in school curricula.

CRT, in theory, is merely a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States that seeks to critically examine U.S. law as it intersects with issues of race in the U.S. and to challenge mainstream approaches to racial justice,” and “examines social, cultural, and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the United States.”

Critics, however, point out that “critical race theory lacks supporting evidence, relies on an implausible belief that reality is socially constructed, rejects evidence in favor of storytelling, rejects truth and merit as expressions of political dominance, and rejects the rule of law.”

In 1997, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner argued  that critical race theory “turns its back on the Western tradition of rational inquiry, forswearing analysis for narrative”, and that “by repudiating reasoned argumentation, [critical race theorists] reinforce stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of nonwhites.”

Former 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski in the same year criticized critical race theorists for creating “insuperable barriers to mutual understanding” and thus eliminating opportunities for “meaningful dialogue.”

Moreover, while teaching students that race — and racism — infuse every aspect of their lives, it also argues that attempting to treat others “based on the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin” — being “colorblind” in other words — is also racist: If you’re white.  

Situations like this prompted legislators to introduce the Parents Bill of Rights and Transparency Act, which school officials strongly oppose.

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