Ever since the unfortunate death of George Floyd, corporate media, virtue-signaling neighborhood leftists, and politicians have been talking about “systemic racism” in America, even though there was and still is no evidence that Floyd’s death was motivated by race.
This is emblematic of the growing concern about “critical race theory,” in which everything is viewed through the lens of race because, the theory claims, “racism is present in every aspect of life, every relationship, and every interaction.” Critical race theory rejects all nuances and statistics that might explain racially disparate outcomes, while well-reasoned and articulated disagreement is considered evidence of white supremacy. This radical view, even in the abstract, should concern every American who was raised to focus on the individual, not racial categories or skin color.
Elements of critical race theory have been present in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) for some time, but it appears to have been supercharged following one elementary school trying to teach about the Underground Railroad during Black History Month in 2019. The game involved students setting up an obstacle course and allegedly one of the students who was designated to play a slave was black. This was no doubt a misguided attempt at teaching about the Underground Railroad, but LCPS reacted by fully embracing the indoctrination of staff and students in critical race theory.
Does ‘Equality’ Require Communism?
In March 2019, the LCPS board formed an “equity committee” that was tasked with reviewing LCPS policies and practices to enhance “equity.” The term equity sounds noble, but it has a special meaning in this context. While equality focuses on providing everyone with the same opportunity regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and any immutable characteristics, equity is something different.
The Social Justice Encyclopedia from New Discourses states: “Where equality means that citizen A and citizen B are treated equally, equity means ‘adjusting shares in order to make citizens A and B equal.’ In that sense, equity is something like a kind of ‘social communism.’”
This is what the LCPS Equity Committee was designed to do—assume all racial discrepancies in discipline, hiring, and gifted programs are racist, ignore any other potentially relevant factors, and adjust outcomes to benefit one racial group at the expense of others.
To do this, LCPS hired the Equity Collaborative, a California Consulting firm specializing in critical race theory, to produce an equity audit of LCPS. LCPS paid the firm $422,000 for its work convening focus groups that included LCPS staff, the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee, “mostly, but not exclusively students of color,” and only parents of black or Hispanic students.
Thus, despite LCPS having a student body that includes 46 percent white students and 23 percent Asian students, LCPS used taxpayer money to exclude on the basis of race when it only invited parents representing its 18 percent of Hispanic students and 7 percent of black students. Since LCPS receives more than $31 million a year in federal funds, this is the kind of equal protection issue that should concern the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice.
Giving Legitimacy to Non-representative Complaints
From its focus groups conducted across 24 schools, the Equity Collaborative listed 23 allegations from students that fell into one of the three categories: (1) “Racial slurs, insult, and hostile learning environment,” (2)” academic expectations,” and (3) “uneven/unfair discipline practices.” Even assuming that the allegations were true, which is difficult to do without hearing from both sides of an alleged conversation, there were 83,762 students enrolled in 94 LCPS schools in 2019-2020. Because the focus groups used a mere sliver of the school population, it’s impossible to determine a percentage of students who experienced those issues. Nevertheless, LCPS used unverified complaints from 0.03 percent of the student population to move to the next step to indoctrinate staff and the student body in critical race theory to stamp out unproven “systemic racism.”
Based on the recommendations of the Equity Collaborative, the LCPS Board recently approved an Equity Plan steeped in the rhetoric of critical race theory. LCPS also released an “Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism” which, among other things required critical race theory lessons for staff, changes to the discipline policy to reduce racial disparities by going easier on students who engage in “disrespect, defiance, and classroom/campus disruption,” renaming the Loudoun County High School mascot the “Raiders,” apologizing for fighting integration 60 years ago, establishment of safe spaces for LCPS staffers of color, and changes to the Loudoun Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering and Technology away from merit-based admission by lowering standards and thus racially selecting the applicant pool.
We’re Policing You In Your Homes
It was not enough for LCPS to enact race-based policies to benefit some races at the expense of others, it has also developed a Professional Code of Conduct that would “punish staff for any comments that are not in alignment with the school division’s commitment to action-oriented equity practices.” Those comments would include “on-campus and off-campus speech, social media posts, and any other telephonic or electronic communication.”
It also encourages other staffers to report such violations, even if a reasonable person would not believe them to be violations. One could reasonably foresee an LCPS staffer punished for having a conversation with a neighbor and fellow LCPS staffer about issues with LCPS’s forced critical race theory indoctrination.
After complaints and threats of First Amendment lawsuits following reports of this policy, LCPS has gone back to the drawing board to figure out a way to silence dissent. Unfortunately, another draft policy stemming from “Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism” is up for a vote on October 13.
This is a proposed student dress code policy, which says: “Clothing or other accessories or objects free from language, slogans, symbols, icons or images that are highly offensive or threatening to others and impede or distract from the Board’s mission of instilling values necessary or appropriate for polite civil discourse or political expression in a school context, social tolerance, nondiscrimination, self-awareness and sensitivity to the feeling of others even if such does not result in a reasonable fear of immediate disruption.”
This is yet another massively overbroad and vague LCPS policy that tramples students’ First Amendment rights. What is “offensive” to others is an unclear and subjective standard that could include absolutely anything based on a complainer’s subjective opinion.
Meanwhile, the policy contradicts itself by suggesting that the dress code must be applied equally to both sexes, suggesting boys could wear dresses to elementary school, despite the fact that could be “offensive” to other students. All in all, this policy is a contradictory and unconstitutional mess.
Loudoun County Public Schools were once considered the best in the country. But the school board and the administration are either ignorant of just how racists and dangerous critical race theory is, or they are willfully using children as Guinea pigs in their unconstitutional experiments in race-based communism. Either way, it’s time for Loudoun County’s parents to join together and stand up to this destructive force.
Ian Prior is the CEO of Headwaters Media, a former principal deputy director of public affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice, and a Loudon County resident.