The Shawnee Mission school district insists that it doesn’t use critical race theory training, but a new video provides a disturbing look inside the district’s Deep Equity training. We don’t know who created Rolling in the Deep Equity, but it is well worth the 20 minutes of your time.
Corwin says its Deep Equity program is based on the work of Gary Howard, who believes White people “are collectively bound and unavoidably complicit in the arrangements of dominance that have systematically favored our racial group over others.” Howard – and by extension, Corwin – are effectively saying White people are racist simply because they are White.
The premise of Deep Equity is that student achievement is suppressed by White privilege. Corwin says, “The dynamics of privilege and power must be confronted to impact real change” and “students’ cultural realities and experiences must be at the center of the teaching and learning process.”
This amounts to brainwashing students to believe their country was founded on and remains a nation of white supremacy. Deep Equity indoctrination is aimed at convincing students that our constitutional republic is evil and must be replaced with something radically different, like Marxist socialism.
At one point in the video, Howard says, “Let’ talk about the founding of our country. The American dilemma…the good of the many vs the wealth and power of the few. These ideas were set in stone in 1787.”
A student who had been through the training tells the interviewer in the video, “I never really knew about social justice. But today they gave me a definition that will stick with me for a lifetime. The good of many rather than the greed of a few.”
Resistance and questioning isn’t tolerated
One phase of the training teaches facilitators how to deal with staff members who disagree with or question any of the training. Howard says resistance most often comes from “white, male, social studies types and conservative Christians….”
Facilitators are given several strategies for dealing with resistance, and none of them encourage open debate. One strategy, called Delay, says, “When you experience any behavior that feels like a direct verbal attack, simply tell the participant you will be dealing with that issue in a future activity or session.”
Direct Confrontation is another strategy.
“Occasionally, a person or group becomes so negative that you need to confront the behavior during the session or perhaps afterward. This is necessary to demonstrate to the other participants that you value their feelings and commitment and will not allow one or two people to destroy the experience for others.”
Facilitators are also advised to isolate what Howard calls “negative people.” The training guide says “spreading them out can be a way of subverting negativity.”
And if that doesn’t work, shame them. Facilitators are told to sit those ‘negative people’ down and tell them their opinion is rejected by the vast majority of participants.
In short, resistance is not tolerated in this program that is allegedly about diversity.
Deep Equity pits students and staff against each other
Throughout the training, participants are reminded that “whiteness” is a bad thing.
Howard reflects on what it means “to be white in a country with such a difficult history on race, and my (white) group has been the dominant, oppressive group in many ways.”
Participants play a game called Culture Toss. People are required to give up elements of their “identity,” two at a time, to survive in an oppressive police state where people are “disappeared.” This is equated with being a “marginalized” student in the dominant culture – kids must give up elements of their true selves to conform to a culture of “whiteness.”
Using students as ‘change agents’
Lest there be any delusions that Deep Equity is just a staff training exercise, parents need to understand that the innocuous-sounding Youth Equity Stewardship (YES) is designed to turn students into ‘change agents.’
One of the creators of YES explains.
“YES is an arts-based program…to see if we can build really strong youth capacities to be allies with adults who are doing the tough work of shifting schools towards equity.”
The indoctrination goes all the way into elementary school. Howard says part of the work on “social dominance and social justice” is to ask “elementary, middle school, or high school (students)…how they are experiencing systems of privilege and preference reinforced by power that favors certain groups over others in their school settings and community settings.”
Shawnee Mission doubles down on Deep Equity
The Sentinel asked Shawnee Mission to comment on the video, and the district raised no factual issues with it. Chief Communications Officer David Smith proudly defends Deep Equity and implies that the community supports it as well.
“Clearly, the anonymous author of the video was not intending to produce an unbiased explanation of Corwin Deep Equity training. They don’t like it, and we can accept that. In fact, we want to lean into criticism, and be open to different perspectives, and learn from them. Deep Equity provides the opportunity to begin and expand the conversation about why some learners are not achieving at the same level as others, in our system, and across the country.
“We believe the wisdom lies in our Shawnee Mission community. Through our strategic plan, our community has directed us to engage in these difficult conversations, in order to create “a fully unified, equitable and inclusive culture.” Our staff are talking about equity as a part of our professional development, and as this is at the heart of our work, nobody gets to opt out of these conversations. That doesn’t mean that we expect uniform thinking or beliefs, nor do we think they are necessary, in order to come together in unity on behalf of our students.”
It’s hard to say how many staff members oppose the use of discrimination to theoretically eliminate racism. Most people won’t speak up for fear of losing their jobs. But in the video, a Chandler, Arizona teacher tells her school board what she thinks.
“My name is Kelsey Rowe. I am a teacher in the Chandler school district. I am here to talk to you about CUSD Corwin program.
“I believe in educational gaps. And I do believe in the need for kindness, always. But the Corwin Equity program is not the answer. As Corwin has been mandated upon teachers, I have felt isolated, frustrated, discriminated against, and incredibly conflicted. I am proud to be a CUSD teacher and I am proud to work under my administration. But I am not proud of the district at this moment and their use of the Corwin program, which influences and promotes political and religious bigotry.”
“In doing this, the district has been deceptive. When the program was first introduced two years ago, it was very subtle. But as it developed, I, along with other teachers, obviously have realized its insidious ideology. I believe that this program is extremely damaging and greatly influences the work environment… creating hostility among teachers and students alike.”
“This is a hostility that I have personally experienced. And this hostility is embedded within the curriculum. It is not local to one campus…it is within the curriculum that has been given to teachers and students alike. I have experienced this hostility because of my race, my gender, and I’d like to emphasize my religion.”
The Chandler school board listened to her and others who spoke up, and they began phasing out Deep Equity in 2020.