Breaking News

July 8, 2021

The documents are flooding in now, from teachers that are tipping us off to the infiltration of ideological agendas to researchers who are documenting and preserving Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) material, in part to provide material to the Florida Department of Education on how pervasive Critical Race Theory is within the Pinellas County School System. This ideological infiltration dates back as far as 2016 when the early seeds of CRT were beginning to be imbedded into PCS, and most recently on June 8th with the appointment of a full time superintendent of EQUITY to preside over implementing the strategic goals of CRT within Pinellas County. If you want to see what those goals are, look over this .PDF file

drive.google.com/file/d/14oF9Iq1KcRIKBuczDGqG4vDncVOlmMsE/view?usp=sharing

We recently received another file from within Pinellas. For the time being, you can access this information on the Pinellas County Schools website itself here :
"Cultural Competence in Pinellas Schools"
but when that disappears as it will shortly after we publicize it, you can get our archived copy for download here :

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15PmDP-f8pwvLFGPaQJ0glZF0iOXLIzW5/view?usp=sharing

Here's the significance of this information - it establishes the direct link and dispels the lie that Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) are not linked. Culturally Relevant Teaching, according to proponents, is the application of Critical Race Theory in an educational setting. Keep in mind, this document is DIRECTLY from the Pinellas County Schools own website and material on Cultural Competence from the Office of Assessment, Accountability and Research . As is always the case in Pinellas County. when you look further into the rabbit hole, the results never disappoint. Here's the 16 employees we pay as part of the Office of Assessment, Accountability and Research - https://www.pcsb.org/Page/26780 . With an average income of $60,000, this is nearly a million dollar annual expenditure division of Pinellas County Schools.

In the Cultural Competence document, take a look at page 3., on Theory to Practice. :

Recognizing students’ race as an important sociocultural context to be considered within educational policy and practice requires educators to challenge existing assumptions about race and culture and to accept that racism is entrenched in American history; that social, legal, and economic policies or structures exist that subordinate people of color and privileges whites (Horsford, 2010b). Critical race theory provides a critical analysis of the relationship between policy, structures, and race (Crenshaw, 2011). CRT defines race as socially constructed (Ladson-Billings, 1997) and should be considered as a “difference which exist[s] only in society [and that] makes sense only in relationship to other racial categories, having no meaningful independent existence” (Lopez, 2000, p.171). Committing to equity in education without discussing race is impossible. Educational leaders must understand that schools can reproduce the structures of power and privilege and that working to combat oppression or inequities by virtue of perceived deficits associated with social class, race, or ethnic heritage is an ever-evolving and continuing process that necessitates a personal commitment to critical discourse (Capper, 2015). It is one thing to examine race and culture, in an attempt to understand how it plays out in schools and classrooms; it is something else to engage in the practice of developing and maintaining an educational system with anti-oppressive, anti-racist agenda. Critical race theorists analyze education and race through various tenets, such as structures within the educational system that contribute to pervasive racism as evidenced in the essential resegregation of schools (Dixson & Rousseau, 2006). School administrators and instructional staff are obliged to take into consideration that traditional curriculum and assessments employ knowledge hegemony in which white culture is ordinary, affirmative, and ideal where the foundation for learning is assumed to be common among all students (Ford & Quinn, 2010; Laughter, 2011; Levine-Rasky, 2012), a tenet known as Whiteness as property (Aggarwal, 2016; Annamma, 2014; Harris, 1993). CRT criticizes the color-blindness approach as ignoring the cultural experiences of students and applying a one standard for all practice replete with biases (Capper, 2015). While CRT’s focus is obviously on race, educational leaders must look at the intersectionality of differences, including, social class, culture, and ethnicity to understand positionality and the complex transactions of cultural competence. However, intersectionality cannot be confronted without first addressing the issues of race and equity in education, which is oftentimes ignored or avoided in any true sense of critical discourse; without directly addressing power, privilege, and engrained racism in schools, how do educators expect to truly address disproportionate educational outcomes for racialized groups? The terms culturally responsive or cultural competence are mentioned among professional learning communities, in attempts to incorporate race and culture into instruction, and in initiatives that claim to address racial diversity. However, these endeavors are mostly superficial and not only distract from the core issue, but also fail to disrupt the normative structures of the dominant culture 4 embedded in our educational system as evidenced in the persistent academic and discipline gaps between white students and students of color. Ladson-Billings (2014) states: What state departments, school districts and individual teachers are now calling `culturally relevant pedagogy’ is often a distortion and corruption of the central ideas I attempted to promulgate. The idea that adding some books about people of color, having a classroom Kwanzaa celebration, or posting `diverse’ images makes one `culturally relevant’ seem to be what the pedagogy has been reduced to”. (p. 82) True culturally relevant pedagogy is comprehensive and goes beyond a one-time lesson or designated period of instruction, but is implemented in everyday practices from policy to instruction that centrally features cooperation, community, and connectedness (Gay, 2010a). A commitment to cultural responsiveness requires educators to “develop a broader sociopolitical consciousness that allows them [students] to critique the cultural norms, values, and institutions that produce and maintain social inequities” (Ladson-Billings, 1995a p.162). Culturally responsive lessons incorporate students’ “funds of knowledge,” the “historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skill” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992, p.133), that diverse learners bring to the classroom and views them as a vital part of the learning process instead of a deficit to overcome.

There's so much in that advisory paper for you to read. The link is above to the PCS website, or you can download our archived copy at the link above.

On Page 5, you can read about the Social justice pedagogy (the method of teaching)

On Page 6, you can explore what Pinellas County is doing regarding Equity vs. Equality :

There is a long-standing mistaken belief that the terms equity and equality are interchangeable; while they are related, the distinction between them is important (Secada, 1989). Within the educational system, equity refers to fairness; providing the resources for all students to be successful by the use of a range of strategies, practices, and policies that are fair and just, but not necessarily equal. Equality, on the other hand, refers to parity, providing the same resources to all students with the expectation that they will be successful (Darling-Hammond, 2010). Practices of equality intend to support fairness, but these practices are only successful if all students start with the same foundation, represent the same style of learning, and exhibit the same learning needs (Ladson-Billings, 2000; Milner & Williams, 2008; Tate, 2008). Educational inequity occurs when unfair, unjust, or biased practices and policies contribute to disparate student outcomes as demonstrated in the disproportionate representation of black students in special education (Easton-Brooks & Davis, 2007); the underrepresentation of students of color in gifted education (Card & Giuliano, 2015; Ford, Scott, Moore, & Amos, 2013); gaps in graduation rates between students of color and white students (Storer, 2012); disproportionate discipline rates of black and Hispanic students compared to their white peers (Losen et al., 2015); and racial disparities in achievement (Garcia & Ramirez, 2015; Hanselman, Bruch, Gamoran, & Borman, 2014). A key component to combating inequity is to cultivate cultural competence: Conceiving an awareness of positionality, confronting implicit biases, recognizing the permanence of racism, understanding interest convergence (“recognizing that those empowered are not moved to change policies for disadvantaged groups unless they are also beneficiaries” [Bass, 2015, p.714]), deconstructing whiteness, and constructing appropriate pedagogy around these tenets to provide an education that is responsive to the identities and cultural backgrounds of all students (Hawley & Nieto, 2010). 7 Colorblindness and melting pot metaphors Historically, the educational system has approached racial, cultural, and/or ethnic differences from colorblind or melting pot perspectives that recommend treating all students equally without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity that consequently ignores the experiences of diverse students (Ullucci & Battey, 2011). These metaphors serve as ideological tools that promote a hegemonic understanding of race/culture; statements like “I don’t even see color” fail to confront inequities (Picower, 2009) and force students to overcome implicit and explicit biases in order to be successful in school (Mazzei, 2008). Melting pot metaphors and colorblind perspectives may contribute to the perpetuation of problematizing or isolating diverse students who do not fit the normed reference of “same.” Horsford (2011) explicates: “critical race scholars dispute liberal ideals of colorblindness (color or race doesn’t matter), meritocracy (access and achievement are based on individual worthiness), and neutrality of the law (all persons are treated equally under the law), all of which conceptualize equality and fairness as the removal of legal racial barriers rather than the equalizing of resources” (p.29). Educators tend to dismiss race as an issue to avoid difficult discussions and having to critically examine their own perceptions around race (exposing their cultural naiveté and confronting their limited understanding of race and experience with diverse cultures; as well as revealing possible implicit or explicit biases) and how their positionality within majority structures impacts student learning (Athanases & Martin, 2006; Causey, Thomas, & Armento, 2000; Kyles & Olafson, 2008; Sleeter, 2001). When acknowledging achievement gaps, educators often point to socioeconomic issues as the root cause instead of racism (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995c; Orfield & Lee, 2005). Focusing on socioeconomic correlations denies the realities of the intersectionality between race and poverty-related burdens. The correlation between low-performing schools and students’ race and class are not indicative of students’ potential, but of the legislative, economic, and social policies that contribute to the establishment and preservation of racist structures that perpetuate racial folklore and myths regarding poverty (Hilfiker, 2011; Ullucci & Howard, 2015)

Let's look at WHITENESS and school culture from Page 9 :

Whiteness and School Culture Given that white culture is overrepresented in schools (Ahmad & Boser, 2014), it is not surprising that the dominant culture dictates school culture. School culture is comprised of “formal and informal dynamics related to espoused and hidden curricula, instructional strategies, administrator-staff-teacher-student interaction, language, communication, and policy development and implementation” (Fraise & Brooks, 2015, p. 11). Whiteness is a theoretical concept that encompasses normative references that support systemic power and privilege whether it is deliberate or unconscious; the system favors whites (Milner, 2005; Utt & Tochluk, 2016; Matias & Grosland, 2016). White culture, has an, oftentimes, invisible quality, yet is the hegemonic force that exists as the dominant racial reality that can be both oppressive and non-agentic (Flores, 2016; Horsford, 2011; Steinberg & Kincheloe, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1997). Whiteness exists within “macro-level structures and institutionalized practices that lock in historically derived advantages” (Donnor, 2015, p.2). Gay (2010b) explains the relationship between culture and education as a “cultural fabric, primarily of European and middle-class origins, so deeply ingrained in the structures, ethos, program, and etiquette of schools that it is considered simply the “normal” and “right” thing to do” (p.9). Critical Whiteness Theory (CWT) (Frankenberg, 1993) is an extension of Critical Race Theory that explains how people live racially structured lives and how whiteness is a structural phenomenon that privileges white people by creating a common sense ideal of identity (Hughey, 2012) which forms a center for US society in terms of agency and resources (Gillborn, 2005). Whiteness does not place blame for being white, but emphasizes the privilege of being white in that whiteness is an ideological structure that rejects anything outside of the fixed construction of normative white epistemologies 10 surrounding race and culture. Understanding whiteness in education means recognizing how traditional teacher education, pedagogy, professional organizations, and curriculum support hegemonic ideas of education and maintain a hierarchical balance of power (Matias, 2013; Picower, 2009). Culturally relevant pedagogy needs to include an explicit deconstruction of whiteness, employing counter-narratives to challenge white epistemology (Aggarwal, 2016; Matias & Liou, 2015). Educators have a duty to apply critical methods to their pedagogical practice, to engage social justice as praxis and go beyond the orthodox standards that have been accepted as cultural competence, that are little more than platitudes “Plainly stated, increased exposure to people of color, multicultural theories, and explicit commitments to social justice is simply not enough to eradicate Whiteness in teacher education. To self-invest in an antiracist education system, interrogations of how Whiteness mutates, survives, and re-fashions itself must be taken up, even if it means uncomfortable discussions” (Matias & Grosland, 2016, p. 152).

To contact the Pinellas County School Board :