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How to Unwoke Your School Board

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin,File

There’s a vicious pandemic that no vaccine will cure, and it’s called Critical Race Theory (CRT.) This is “wokeness” and it is invading school districts and classrooms nationwide, infecting the minds of America’s progeny from preschool through college. It’s a relentless illness, spreading racial division and distrust with a deterministic dogma that defines all whites as programmed to be oppressors and all minorities as doomed victims of that white oppression.  


This is the story of what happened when this pandemic suddenly struck the Douglas County, Colorado, School District, which serves 63,000 students. Only 1 percent of those students are black, and black residents only make up 1.1 percent of the county population (with Hispanics at about 7 percent according to the 2010 census , the most recent available.) So Douglas County is simply not as diverse and “inclusive” as many woke left-leaners would like it to be. Still, somehow the county always rates at the top of those nationwide “great places to live” surveys. It’s full of leafy, affluent neighborhoods with friendly people and lots of dogs. The dogs and their owners’ ride of choice is a Ford 150 pickup or a domestic SUV. The predominantly white and Republican electorate is one of the most well-educated populations in the nation. The county has been untroubled by the Antifa and BLM burning and lootings afflicting the radical left hotbeds of the nation. Though a few anemic BLM marches were organized, mostly by whites from other counties, these were outdone in enthusiasm and frequency by the hundreds of Trump supporters  who all last summer and fall flocked several times a week to sidewalk honk and wave events and Trumpster car parades.  No violence or racial incidents occurred, and the fall elections produced decisive victories for all the local and state Republican candidates, as usual.  

It should be noted that for the last two years, the District’s Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer, and Chief Technology Officer have all been African-Americans.  Yet the three departed their jobs at the end of 2020. The Superintendent was placed on administrative leave following a formal workplace complaint of gender discrimination; he was ultimately cleared. Nevertheless he resigned, having previously told the Board he had another job offer. Although the Chief Academic Officer said “she experienced “microaggressions and passive-aggressive racism” almost daily, none of the three district officials had any specific complaints.     


Still, in obeisance to the leftist woke critical race pandemic sweeping the nation, in March the Douglas County Board of Education (BOE) proposed an “Equity Policy” that essentially mandates revamping “all school board-approved curriculum” to include “all races, colors, ancestries, creeds, sexes, genders, sexual orientations, gender expressions, gender  identities… “  Roughly two-thirds of the public comments submitted to the district website expressed fierce opposition to the policy. People said they w ere all for equal treatment and non-discrimination, but they wanted to know why the district would focus on “equity” rather than “equality” and why the policy would call meritocracy a “myth.” Parents said it would lead to political indoctrination via damaging critical race theory, which violates Martin Luther King’s principle that people should be judged by character, not by skin color.     

Some worried the Equity Policy’s five – yes five - references to sex and gender signaled that the new curricula would allow biologically-equipped boys who think they are girls to enter girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and to compete in female sports. The same gender fluidity and transgender dogma that parents have been protesting all over the nation. Many contended that parents, not the schools, are the rightful moral and ethical guides of their own children. What an antique concept.

The BOE ignored and never addressed any of these concerns, which were also voiced at some of their online meetings. (They did drop the anti-meritocracy part; the opposition was so epic.)   Board members indulged in the usual butterflies-and-unicorns speeches hailing this marvelous  new equity as harbinger of  a  new student utopia awash in harmony and tender feelings.  And the seven-member BOE unanimously passed the Equity Policy  - some of them with unabashed tears of joy at assaulting this  stronghold of white privilege with the revealed truth of racial justice. There seemed to be universal amnesia that discrimination has been forbidden for nearly 60 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.    


Then something happened.  Awareness began to seep into the larger public. Concerned letters to the editor appeared, and then a video leaked of a  Zoom equity “Keynote” training session by something called The Gemini Group –  an alarming video that had been shown to about 900 district employees  on April 14 as  part of a package of training sessions and “instruction” for which the district had paid the Gemini consultants $37,000. 

People learned that  district officials had already been working with the Gemini Group for about a year, after being introduced via  their work with the Colorado Dept. of Education. This “group” consists of two individuals called Dante and Christina  James, civil rights lawyers whose fee of $550 an hour may have been inspired by paying close attention to expert race hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.  

In their April 14 on-line “Keynote” to 900 teachers and staff, the James gang recited the traditional sacred texts of the Critical Race Theory liturgy. Here are a few highlights:

“We know for a fact the darker your skin color the harsher your outcome in any aspect of life.”  

“Our intentions are irrelevant. Creating opportunities doesn’t change the outcomes…equity is about outcomes.”  “The bias in these systems and institutions was built, brick by brick law by law, policy by policy…and if we’re going to undo it we must undo it in that same strategic thoughtful way.“

“Equality will not get us to equity.” 

“We have institutional and systemic racism, just based on how the institutions were created and who created them.  We must make institutional changes, really change the dynamics.”   

“We are talking about the identity that represents those people who are typically in positions of power in this country, and this identity is very specific:  it’s white, it’s male, it’s able-bodied, it’s Christian and  it’s straight.”  

“We talk about equity - not just adding nice fluffy words in our strategic plan but to really changing the dynamic.”  

“Are we ever going to talk about President  Andrew Jackson as a genocidal maniac, or not – what is the context in which we provide the facts to our students?”

“Micoaggressions are verbal or non-verbal engagements that are insults or offensive – they don’t mean to be harmful but are harmful - targeted towards individuals of marginalized identities. Micro aggressions are founded in race. The names of our schools and mascots are macro and micro-aggressions…How do we change those?”


And here is Dante James, summing up at the end of the session:

“The school board passed a resolution about equity resolution, thanks to folks on this Zoom call. This is how we will educate and inform your children. This is how the school district where your children attend will educate your children.”

“How do you engage the students and the parents; sometimes the parents can be some of the biggest challenges…”

“Challenges”? Try a rising cacophony of pure outrage from parents and the larger community.. To squelch the outcry, about a month after the April 14  “Keynote,” the district emailed a notice to parents that  “the equity policy has raised concerns from some members of our community who have asked if this will change Douglas County School District Curriculum to incorporate Critical Race Theory. DCSD is not changing its curriculum.”    

Shockingly, parents and others, having seen the obvious activism in the video, just didn’t believe them. So 50 or 60 packed the room on May 25 at the first in-person BOE meeting in over a year. More than 20 people took the podium to speak out against CRT for the divisive propaganda it is. Vigorous applause and hoots of approval from the audience greeted each well-articulated three-minute speech. They were only 20 or so, but they were mostly moms. And yes, they were momma grizzlies.  

Following the comments, BOE President David Ray, said something about the equity themes being included in the 2019 Strategic Plan, which had “lots of community input,” implying that everyone should have known that a massive indoctrination campaign directed at their children would ensue. He even declared that the Gemini Group’s “personnel development opportunities” were offered without “the Board’s knowledge or formal action” but were under the jurisdiction of the superintendent. But Dante “Gemini” James clearly told 900 Douglas County teachers and staff that “This is how the district where your children attend will educate your children.”


And this massive change won’t affect the curriculum? And it’s happening without the knowledge of the BOE which is elected by the people to direct the education of 63,000 students? Who among the well-educated people of Douglas County could possibly believe that?

In a surprise move, the vigorous  public outcry at the May 25 meeting inspired district Superintendent Corey Wise to cancel $20,000 worth of “Foundations in Equity” workshops, scheduled for the next two days, May 25 and 26. We’re trying to find out whether the four, three and a half hour workshops have been rescheduled. But for now we will claim a grassroots victory and on 6/1/21 I look forward to filing a CORA (Colorado Open Records Act)  request to see who signed the contract. And to November, when Douglas County will elect four new BOE members. I bet the turnout is really really big.

Joy Overbeck is a Douglas County, Colorado based journalist and author who has written for Townhall, American Thinker, The Washington Times, The Federalist, the Daily Caller, and others. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @joyoverbeck1.  

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