Six Unsettling Features of DEI in K-12: A guide for parents, educators, and anyone concerned about new curricular interventions

Free Black Thought:

The purpose of this article and its associated downloadable Powerpoint is to make available, for parents, educators, and all who care about K-12 education, information about some of the potentially harmful ideas and practices around race that have become increasingly prevalent in K-12 education. For convenience, we call these new ideas and practices “DEI,” that is, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” Other terms you may have seen for roughly the same phenomenon include “Critical Race Theory (CRT),” “(critical) social justice,” “diversity work,” and “antiracism.” This is not to say that there are no constructive alternative-DEI / alternative-to-DEI frameworks out there. There are, and we discuss some in the final section. It is merely to say that the broad mainstream of the DEI industry, now asserting itself in classrooms everywhere, tends to evince some unsettling features. Some of these features are the subject of this post. 

In the following six sections, we explore six of these unsettling features of DEI as it manifests in K-12. A final coda offers some alternatives to traditional DEI that are worth exploring. This post is long. We hope, however, that you find it to be a useful resource. Each section is independent of the others and so may be consulted independently. You may click on a section number to jump to that section:

          1. "Oppressed vs. oppressor" framing
          2. "White supremacy culture" framing
          3. Segregating children by race or ethnicity in “affinity groups”
          4. Constructive vs. Critical/Liberated Ethnic Studies
          5. Lowering/eliminating standards in math education
          6. Misrepresentation of “Implicit Bias”

Coda: For what may we hope? Alternatives to DEI