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Background on New Trier’s chasing the goal of Equity

If you have read your latest issue of New Trier PTA’s Parent Press you will notice New Trier’s Strategic Plan has many laudable goals including “intellectual engagement,” “leadership” and “personal student growth and well-being.”

“Equity,” however, is a goal that begs a lot of questions.

The concept of “equity,” coupled with “diversity and inclusion,” (EDI) in recent years has been tearing through K-12 and higher education circles and is now spilling over into corporate America, with the hiring of “diversity” professionals, sometimes at six-figure salaries.  The purported goal is to increase diversity throughout public and private institutions.  Diverse people and viewpoints of course can and do enrich any organization.

In the first part of the school’s definition, “equity” appears to be focused on tailoring education to various learning styles – this is a worthy goal.

But read the entire definition and it descends into the identity politics parlance that permeated 2017’s infamous Seminar Day and which the school threatened it would continue to embed through the curriculum.

Equity is an idea that has been embraced by progressives who assume that students are not performing – and companies not hiring – because teachers, managers and institutions are biased against them.  Therefore, “training” is needed, provided by groups who charge hundreds of thousands of dollars, and curriculum is changed to accommodate multiculturalism and hiring quotas implemented regardless of qualifications.  The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used in these trainings, despite its own authors admitting is it not scientifically valid.

Much of what constitutes the EDI movement is derived from Critical Race Theory. This is a school of thought based on Critical Theory, a Marxist movement advocated by German scholars after WWI, which sought to destroy Western institutions and traditions they viewed as “oppressive.”

The problem – in addition to the anti-Western bias of EDI and equity in particular — is there is no evidence that it does a shred of good to improve school performance.  To the contrary, diversity training has been found to backfire (insert Harvard link).

Aside from its controversial political underpinnings, the school definition of “equity” — that “every student should have access to the resources and educational rigor at the right moment in their education regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background or family income” — begs a few practical questions:

 

  • Has New Trier been denying education resources based on race, gender, disability, etc.? If so, New Trier doesn’t need an equity program – it needs lawyers.
  • If gender must not be a barrier for access to resources, does this mean that a male runner who feels it is the “right moment” to compete on the women’s cross country team will be allowed to do so?  In fact, won’t all sports have to become “no-cut” to achieve true equity?
  • If language must not be a barrier for access to resources, will classes be taught in Spanish or other selected languages for any student who does not speak English, rather than asking the student to learn English?
  • If family background must not be a barrier, will parents not be held accountable for providing the necessary structure and resources to help their children succeed?

 

The notion that the school should challenge every student to become their best selves is laudable.  But the “equity” agenda is based on identity politics and belies a political leaning to the left.

Darnisa Amante, a diversity consultant hired to speak to Evanston teachers last year, defined equity as requiring “the redistribution of privilege and power” and stated that “meritocracy is a myth.”

In other words, “equity” is based in the Marxist notion of producing equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity. Inevitably, this means pushing a left-wing ideology that promotes redistribution of resources based on “oppressed” status, foments resentment, and conveys a message of helplessness and hopelessness to every student whatever his or own place on the “equity spectrum.”

Nothing could be more at odds with New Trier’s mission statement “to commit minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion, and lives to the service of humanity.”

New Trier is one of America’s marquis public high schools, and it should be leading the charge against