Racism

May 2, 2021 Updated: May 2, 2021

As former teachers and current property taxpayers in Goodyear, Arizona, we have an important stake in the education of our children. We entrust our children to the Litchfield Elementary School District and expect them to be educated in a positive, safe, nurturing, and reaffirming environment. We also expect that teachers will respect the values we teach our children at home and will in no way contradict those values. We want our children to be color blind and treat all classmates equally and fairly without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity. We also expect teachers to treat all students likewise. Like Martin Luther King Jr., who wanted to be judged not by the color of his skin but by his character, we expect the same attitude from our teachers and our children.

We also understand that all students are unique and different, resulting in different outcomes of achievement. Different outcomes can be attributed to many factors—home environment, study habits, teacher proficiency, and innate intelligence being major factors. However, the notion that race plays the major factor in determining outcomes is simplistic and condescending as it covers up the real reasons for any disparities and implies that some races are superior to others. Most studies show that a stable home environment plays a major factor in a student’s academic success.

We all want our students to succeed and reach their full potential. How we reach those goals, however, has become a source of contention, as evidenced by a March 16 [school district] board meeting, where several parents voiced their concerns about the introduction of the Transformational Equity Work race-based theories of education.

In a Dec. 8 presentation, [one board member] presented slides on disparities in academic achievement between racial groups and introduced her equity statement that discussed different race-based tactics for promoting equity. For example, black students needed to be disciplined differently than other students.

However, an unruly student who is treated differently just because of race could be very disruptive to a classroom and possibly produce an unsafe environment. Rationalizing bad behavior helps no one.

[The board member] also implied that minority students need minority role models to succeed. Someone forgot to tell that to President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. In a slide on student achievement disparities between races, [the board member] implied that this was due to racism.

If [this person] was really interested in finding the root problems to disparities in student achievement, she should examine the differences in high achieving Black students and low achieving black students. The same goes for racial wealth gaps, why is there such a great disparity between wealthy Blacks and poor Blacks? [The board member] also states, “Equity recognizes that we are born into unequal and unjust circumstances.” This goes along with the critical race theory narrative that America is a racist country—compared to who? What country is freer, more inclusive, and provides more opportunities for minority students than America? As one black pastor stated, “If America was truly run by white supremacists,” President Barack Obama would never have been elected twice.

[The board member] also states in her equity statement: “We subscribe to author Ibram X. Kendi’s definition: ‘One either allows racial inequities to persevere as a racist or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.”‘” Really. That means we all have to prove a negative—that is, we are not racist. This borders on extortion as one cannot be anti-racist enough.

I wonder if [the board member] has read Professor Kendi’s book “How to Be an Antiracist.” I have. In it, Professor Kendi never has anything positive to say about America, he complains about vague racist policies, but never specifically names one but instead concludes all racial disparities are due to racism. He further claims that capitalism is racist, that capital gains tax cuts are racist, that reparations are needed and to oppose them means you are a racist. Reparations would pit races against each other and lead to greater racial tension. He also wants to create a Department of Anti-Racism [and] give it broad powers to enforce his views of racial equity. This militant, race-obsessed, anti-American proposal is what columnist Rod Dreher refers to as totalitarianism in his article, “Yes, it’s totalitarianism.”

No one denies that racism exists in America, it’s called sin. But we have stringent laws against discrimination with heavy penalties against those who display it. But you don’t solve racism with more racism. You cannot raise one race at the expense of another unless you want continuous racial turmoil. Calling someone a racist without proof is defamatory and libelous.

Being fixated on past injustices only produces despair, anger, and revenge. Instead, have students focus on all the wonderful opportunities that exist in America. Instead of being obsessed with race and toxic race theories, let’s focus on increasing the student proficiency rates in math and reading and hiring teachers who are dedicated to helping underachieving students without lowering standards and expectations because of perceived differences in races, a form of true racism.

Regards,

Igor Shpudejko

Arizona