In October 2020, Northview Middle School sent an email to parents promoting a racially segregated program that only accepts students who are considered minorities. The email explained:
Minority Engineering Program of Indianapolis (MEPI) is an awesome enrichment opportunity that is available to our students in grades 6-8 (and on into high school). The goal of MEPI is to expose minority students in grades 6-12 to the career opportunities available in engineering and information technology (IT). Students are encouraged to excel in their studies while placing emphasis on Math, Science, and English. MEPI’s concentrated programs provide a good foundation for minority students who plan to enter the field of Engineering or Information Technology.
A parent responded to the email and asked if her child could enter the program since he was interested in engineering. The school’s counselor responded back by explaining that the parent’s child could not apply for the program since he was not a minority and recommended other options that the school offers to students. The parent mentioned that the principal eventually said her child could apply to the program, but the principal responded after it was too late to submit an application.
Northview Middle School’s district – Metropolitan School District of Washington Township – heavily pushes “equity” and “anti-racism” in education. Part of the school district’s website is dedicated to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The school district’s equity page explains that students will be taught in a “culturally responsive” manner. The term “culturally responsive” is often used to describe a method of teaching that includes the race and ethnicity of students as part of the lessons taught in classrooms. The school district explains its intentions with students:
Our efforts to engage all students in a culturally responsive and inclusive manner is at the forefront of our continued development as a learning organization. Our District Strategic Plan demonstrates our commitment for infusing equitable practices and anti-racism throughout our organization as evident by four priorities: equitable achievement, recruitment and retention of a high quality and diverse staff, partnerships, and fiscal responsibility.
The school district’s strategic plan for 2020-2027 appears to outright state that the intention is to turn students into political activists. The strategic plan states that a goal of the district is to teach children to “stand up against social injustice” and “be globally minded citizens who are positive contributors to society.” The plan also states that teachers will be trained in “culturally responsive teaching and anti-racist pedagogy” and in “reducing implicit bias and racial inequities.”
The school district also established a “District Equity Leadership Team that consists of educators with various roles.” The school district states that this team “acknowledges that oppressive structures within society and educational systems perpetuate inequitable outcomes” and works “to eliminate the barriers that contribute to district wide disparities.” The team focuses on topics including “teaching and development” and “curriculum.”
The school district has a page on its website titled “No Racism Zone.” The school district uses this page to announce its support for the Black Lives Matter movement and its commitment to “antiracist work”:
In Washington Township we believe that Black Lives Matter and will work to dismantle the structures that perpetuate institutional racism. We will engage in an ongoing journey of self-introspection and actively remove the barriers yielding to opportunity gaps and racial disparities. We are committed to antiracist work and the cultivation schools that embrace culturally responsive teaching practices.
The “No Racism Zone” page also features a document titled “Parent Resources for Talking With Our Children about Racism.” The document lists several known books from authors who push “equity” and “anti-racist” education: Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.
The school district mentions it has “Resiliency Teams” that work to implement “equity” and “culturally responsive teaching” into the curriculum taught by teachers. The district states that “these teams facilitate learning that intersects culturally responsive teaching practices, educational neuroscience, ABAR (anti-bias and antiracist work), and social emotional learning.”
The school district also appears to work with CASEL to implement Social Emotional Learning (SEL) when teaching students. The school district explains that it uses SEL to push equity in education: “SEL is grounded in brain aligned strategies, which are based in Educational Neuroscience and Cultural Responsiveness as a lever for educational equity for ALL.” The school district’s SEL page then promotes CASEL. The SEL page explains that CASEL “is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning” and “supports educators and policy leaders and enhances the experiences and outcomes for all PreK-12 students.”
CASEL is an organization that works with school districts throughout the country to use SEL in an effort to push “equity” and “social justice” in education. On July 1, 2020, CASEL promoted “racial justice” in discussing its roadmap for reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. In explaining the importance of the reopening process for schools, the organization stated that “this moment called on all members of our school communities to deepen our social and emotional competencies and create equitable learning environments where all students and adults process, heal, and thrive.” CASEL also published a video in 2020 titled “SEL As a Lever for Equity and Social Justice.”
The school district’s website has a page dedicated to “Parent and Caregiver DEI Resources.” One resource on the page is a resolution passed by the school district’s Board of Education. The resolution states that the Board of Education has “responded to the national protests and dialogue regarding racism, implicit bias, and racial injustices by goals in the District’s strategic plan to increase academic success and social emotional learning skills of students and retain and hire staff that represent the students and families served.” The resolution also states that the school district is “committed to engaging in difficult conversations with respect and correcting historical inequities that have been barriers for minority students.”
Another resource is called “Continuous Improvement Toward Equitable Outcomes.” The document states that all of the school district’s staff receive ongoing “culturally responsive training.” The document also states that the school district intends to change the curriculum taught by teachers to implement more perceived “diversity.”
One resource the school district promotes is called “Social Justice Books.” The resource links to a list of social justice book categories that include “Gender Identity,” “LGBTQ+,” and “Race and Education.” Books listed in the “Gender Identity” category include Jack (Not Jackie) and I Am Jazz. Both books promote stories of young children transitioning to another gender. The “LGBTQ+” category includes the books When Aidan Became a Brother that features a young child transitioning to another gender and They She He Me: Free to Be! that supports teaching young children about pronouns and so-called gender fluidity.
The school district also provides resources for “Supporting LGBTQ+ Students.” One resource in this category is a document from GLSEN called a “Safe Space Tool Kit.” The document tells educators to “challenge traditional norms,” validate the “gender identity and expression” of students, and “assure and respect confidentiality.”
GLSEN is known for promoting LGBTQ issues to young children. GLSEN states on its website that “while many LGBTQ+-inclusive school supports begin in middle or high school, it is critical for elementary schools to establish a foundation of respect and understanding for all people.” The organization has also appeared to show support for children taking “hormone replacement therapy” to transition to another gender:
Upon birth, we are typically categorized into one of two genders (boy or girl) depending on how our genitals are read. Throughout our lives, however, our many bodily characteristics work together to create a unique path of development, causing some of us to grow really tall, and others to remain short, or some of us to grow hair under our armpits and legs, while others remain bare. While this development often happens on its own during puberty, this change can also be administered through medicine, such as hormone replacement therapy. Since our society often conflates our bodies (or genitalia) with our gender identity, it is critical that we allow space for people to self-identify.
Other “LGBTQ+” resources from the school district are labeled “Parenting Your Gender Expansive Child,” “Understanding Gender,” and “Language of Gender.” The three resources link to the website of the organization Gender Spectrum.
The Gender Spectrum website offers resources specifically targeting “youth” and even teachers. Gender Spectrum offers resources to educators on a page titled “Integrating Gender Diversity Into Everyday Curriculum.” This page explains that the discussion of gender can be integrated into subjects like history, science, mathematics, and even physical education. In targeting the youth, Gender Spectrum offers online chatrooms for children as young as 10 years old who identify as “trans” or “non-binary.”
The school district also hosted a webinar in 2021 for “Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth.” Objectives for the webinar included to “learn or become familiar with basic terminology” and to “discuss how to be an advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and supportive caregiver.” The webinar also explains to “never assume” a person’s gender identity.
On April 14, 2021, the Board of Education revised the school district’s equity policy. The revised policy states that the school district will change and revise curriculum that is not deemed appropriate. The policy states that the Board of Education is dedicated “to requiring and continuing processes that evaluate District policies, curriculum, instruction, and educational programming using a lens of equality and equity.” The policy further explains that the Board of Education is also dedicated “to carefully study District policies, curriculum, instruction, procedures, and programs to ensure that those which present barriers to the full development of each student, or do not clearly state the Board’s commitment to educational equality and equity among all stakeholders are carefully studied and, when necessary, revised or eliminated.”
The school district promotes an event called “Interrupting Racism For Children.” The school district brags that “more than 100 WT staff members have participated in antiracism training within the past year” and explains that the workshop for children offers “an opportunity for teens and young adults to engage in conversations around racism in the United States.”
The school district also promotes “Implicit Bias Training” in part of its celebration for Black History Month. The school district explains that “participants will focus on building a basic awareness and general understanding of its impact.” Participants will additionally “be guided through self-reflection around how bias may show up in their lives.”