According to Ed Week, the educational news website, a leader with the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) is only one example of minority school officials grilling potential hires to acknowledge racial inequality and to explain how they have demonstrated “anti-racism” in the classroom and in their personal life.
In the Ed Week story, an Illinois-based special education teacher named Karen Rice-Harris said potential hirings should show a “commitment” to diversity, equity, inclusion, empathy, and to student’s “social-emotional needs.”
Rice-Harris, who is black, is quoted throughout the story because she is chairwoman for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at the American Association of School Personnel Administrators. “Ultimately, when we’re looking for people to serve our students,” Rice-Harris tells Ed Week, “my key questions are: Can you teach these students, even if they don’t look like you, [even if] you’re not familiar with their culture?”
Responding to the revelations in the Ed Week story, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute insists that hiring process is illegal.
"Government cannot censor and discriminate against people,” he tells American Family News, “based on what they believe and their convictions as a condition to be able to work."
Yet the Ed Week story quotes numerous school leaders who explain and defend their race-focused screening. The story states in its own headline that school districts are screening for “racial biases” during teacher job interviews.
Ashley Davis, an elementary school principal for Boston Public Schools, told Ed Week she informs hiring candidates the school prioritizes “anti-racism” in the classroom. She then asks the candidate to describe what they have done, personally and professionally, to demonstrate “anti-racism,” too.
At Pauline A. Shaw Elementary, where Davis is the principal, Boston taxpayers were pouring $21,473 into each student in the classroom during the 2019-2020 school year. Only 45% of Shaw black students met the state's testing in English and only 19% were hitting those requirements in math, state figures show.
No black student at Shaw Elementary hit the state's "Exceeding Expectations" benchmark in English and math.
Software evaluates 'woke' teachers
The story also makes it clear potential hires are sitting through a rigorous ideological test being administered by Nimble, a company that makes teacher-hiring software being used in approximately 500 school districts across the country, according to Ed Week.
The CEO of Nimble, Lauren Dachille, who is white, told Ed Week many minority school districts in urban communities were already concerned about “cultural competency” in the classroom. Then came the murder of George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed, she said, which made the issue of race in the classroom more important.
“Now that we’ve become a little more aware of the concept of anti-racism, and maybe a little more woke as a culture,” she told Ed Week, “I do think that districts have started to emphasize these questions a little bit more.”
According to Dacus, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit schools hard and now comes a screening process that appears to be violating the law.
“So this is a bad time to have a bad policy,” he says, “that's atrociously violating the civil liberties and human dignity of America's public school teachers."
Tell-tale tenets of CRT
The lingering and controversial issue of Critical Race Theory is not mentioned in the Ed Week story but related buzzwords such as “privilege,” “equity,” and “systemic bias” are sprinkled throughout it thanks to the first-hand accounts of school officials and from Nimble's CEO.
The story itself reflects the premise of CRT: White people are inherently racist and have set up a white-dominated power structure to ensure they maintain power over minorities.
Along with religion, politics, and the law, academia is listed among that list of a racist power structure by the legal scholars behind Critical Race Theory. Hence a white teacher is screened about her racism before setting foot in a classroom of minority students.
In the Ed Week story, former school principal Shari El-Mekki said he looked for future teachers who were willing to be held accountable for minority students succeeding, and who demonstrated “humility” to “interrogate their own mindsets” on the issue of race.
El-Mekki recalled an interview in which a potential hire questioned the race-based questions, such as if she had ever worked for a black school administrator in the past, and pushed back on the line of questioning.
“No,” El-Mekki said he told the job candidate, “this is natural conversation for us—talking about race, class, and privilege.”