This NY Times' story on Loudoun County is pretty slanted

Sunday the NY Times published a story about how Loudoun County became the center of a battle between parents and the school board. I wouldn’t say the piece was completely one-sided but it’s certainly slanted. Author Stephanie Saul treads fairly lightly on some of the anti-racism training parents were objecting to and heavily on the idea that the county was merely trying to “promote diversity.” Here’s the opening of the story. [emphasis added]


Long before the father was tackled by sheriff’s deputies at the school board meeting, before there was shouting to reopen classrooms and before “parents matter” became the central slogan of the most closely watched campaign in the post-Trump era, Loudoun County was just another American suburbia taking a hard look at its schools.

The county, at the edge of the Virginia sprawl outside Washington, had grown much more diverse. White students were no longer in the majority, and educators were trying to be more aware of how racism could affect their students’ education.

The district hired a consulting firm to help train teachers about bias. It tried to hire more teachers of color. And a high school changed its mascot from the Raiders, named for a Confederate battalion, to the Captains.

This is all true and yet it leaves out a lot of important details that explain why some parents reacted as they did. First off, educators weren’t randomly looking to be more aware of the need for diversity, they were responding to a nationwide push for anti-racism and equity that has already swept through colleges and corporations. And they hired a consulting firm which then sold them exactly those products. Marc Thiessen pointed out on Twitter how this skips pretty lightly over what was being presented to teachers as a new and better approach.


Here’s one slide from the Equity Collaborative’s presentation on CRT:

And here’s a follow up slide on the “permanence of racism” which says CRT suggests that “racism controls the political, social, and economic realms of U.S. society.”

And of course there’s an attack on the very concept of meritocracy:

The last slide in this series says this:

So, just summing up a small portion of this training, racism controls society and meritocracy is a myth designed to make oppressors feel good. How might those ideas play out in a school district? Well, I can think of lots of ways and many of them are not good. For instance, if racism controls everything then it would make sense to focus a tremendous amount of time and attention on racism and on race. And if meritocracy is just a gimmick to make oppressors feel good, then focusing on merit (grades, test scores, etc.) in school is actually upholding systemic racism. So clearly we need to stop focusing on those things in schools, things like grades and doing well on tests and mastering skills like reading and math, i.e. academic merit.


As Thiessen notes, none of the details made it into the Times story. Perhaps if they had, readers would understand why so many parents in Loudoun County objected. Instead of explaining and offering examples, author Stephanie Saul writes this (which comes immediately after the excerpt above):

But there were rumblings of resistance.

Vocal parents protested the district’s antiracism efforts as Marxism.

Some teachers disliked the trainings, which they found ham-handed and over the top.

Again, rumblings of resistance to what exactly? You know but her readers do not. And the line about Marxism is meant to sound incongruous and crazy. Actually it’s not crazy. Many of the leading anti-racism trainers, including Robin DiAngelo, are Marxists or at least anti-capitalists. Anti-capitalism gets mentioned a lot if you read this material. The founders of Black Lives Matter were Marxists and one of the articles in the 1619 Project argued that modern day capitalism took its basic design from slavery. Why doesn’t Stephanie Saul mention any of this? Why doesn’t she just quote Loudoun County teacher Monica Gill who argued in June of this year that the concept of “equity” as promoted by diversity trainers is very different from the idea of equality all Americans support.


“Our education leadership denies it, but equity is critical race theory dressed up pretty. It sounds lovely – equity – but it is poison,” Gill also said. “Because equity is not about equality of opportunity, which is foundational to American political culture and economic strength. It is about equal outcomes, which is foundational to Marxist political ideology.”

The statement about Marxism that appeared in the 5th paragraph of the story is never explained. Gill is quoted later in the story but not on this point.

Some teachers objected to a chart in their training that listed different groups as either “experiences privilege” or “experiences oppression.” Christians were privileged, for instance, while non-Christians were oppressed.

Monica Gill, an American history teacher at Loudoun County High School, also objected to an animated video called “The Unequal Opportunity Race,” in which white people get a head start, while people of color must wait and then face obstacle after obstacle.

The video, she said, was an overgeneralization that itself embraced a racial stereotype.

“I didn’t grow up in white privilege,” Ms. Gill said. “I worked hard to get through college, and it wasn’t handed to me by any stretch. It seemed to me that this whole thing they were pushing was very shallow.”

Here’s the video Gill was reacting to.


As you’ll see if you stick with it, this clip compares “standardized tests” to a pool full of sharks set in the middle of the running track. And curiously, the shark pool is only on the side of the track where minorities are running. Do only minorities take standardized tests? Aren’t Asian students a smaller minority than black or Latino students in this country? How do they do on these tests?

The race ends with the white male runner winning by riding on a moving conveyer belt while the white woman is still running and the two minority runners are literally in jail and dead.

Based on the story it appears this video was only shown to teachers not to students but what happens if this viewpoint is embraced to the point that it is shown to kids in 3rd grade? How does that make the kids feel about school work? About academic achievement? About their own racial identity? This strikes me as not a good message to deliver to kids whether they are white or minorities.

Anyway, you can glean some of this from the story if you follow the links but the author certainly doesn’t spend much time on it. The reality of what parents are reacting to and why it might not be a great idea is mostly left in the background. I guess if the progressives who read the Times want to keep pretending there’s nothing a reasonable person could object to in this material, that’s their prerogative but I think the outcome is going to be more “surprise” election outcomes like the one we just had in Virginia.


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