Loudoun County's Equity Consultant Says Relationships, Not Learning, Should be the Focus of Public Schools

Posted: Nov 08, 2021 9:45 PM
Loudoun County's Equity Consultant Says Relationships, Not Learning, Should be the Focus of Public Schools

Source: Richard Alan Hannon/The Advocate via AP

The co-founding partner of The Equity Collaborative, the consulting firm hired by Loudoun County Public Schools to promote equity and inclusion into its classrooms, said in a recent lecture that he believes learning should not be the highest priority for public schools because the internet does a better job of informing students of what they need to know.

"I think the thing that public education offers…because I certainly don’t think we offer learning… are relationships…What historically high schools were for was dissemination of information very quickly…Well actually the internet is better than the high school is…Truthfully, the teacher in relation to the dissemination of information is obsolete. But the teacher in relationship to relationship is the thing," Equity Collaborative leader Jamie Almanzán said in a video posted to Twitter Monday.

Almanzán emphasized the need for school faculty to "practice" changing the minds of students by speaking to adults, whose views are harder to change, so that they would be better prepared to influence children, who, as he points out, are more persuadable because of their ever-changing perspectives.

"To change adults…sometimes I wonder whether it’s even worth it," he said. "Sometimes you’re like ‘Just forget it.’ They should just get out of the way. Kids change must faster. Adults are in the way."

He also said that it is "easier" to have a productive dialogue about equity when discussing the idea of equity itself, rather than "addressing inequity," proposing a shift in language to come up with "the outcome we want to see and then addressing the inequities that prevent us from getting to that outcome." 

"People are down for equity, people are not down for challenging inequity," he said.

According to the consultant report card from nonprofit Parents Defending Education, LCPS signed a contract in 2019 with The Equity Collaborative, which was paid more than $300,000 in taxpayer funds to implement critical race theory trainings into the school curriculum.

The contract included having three of the firm's consultants, who were paid $5,000 per day per consultant, present an eight-day "Systemic Equity Assessment" to county staff, students and community members.

It also had LCPS paying $32,000 to The Equity Collaborative for a "District Equity Plan" led by Almanzan and Graig Meyer. The firm would also receive $40,000 for two "Equity Driven Central Office Leadership" trainings a month over a five-month period in 2019. 

That same year, the district gave another $22,000 for a four-day "Equity in the Center Co-Facilitation" that paid Almanzan $5,500 a day.